An award-winning village pub is celebrating a resurgence in business since the September reopening of Linton Bridge and is now is looking forward to a bumper Christmas and New Year.
When the bridge over the River Wharfe was damaged in the December 2015 floods, a stroll across the bridge from Collingham to the Windmill Inn at Linton for regular customers became a 20-minute car journey for anyone wanting to call in at the 2015 Community Pub of the Year.
During the year-and-a-half that the grade II listed bridge was closed for major repairs by Leeds City Council the pub suffered a dramatic reduction in trade.
Turnover fell by 35 per cent despite the introduction of a free shuttle bus service funded by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) to support businesses in the area.
Financial help from the council also came in the form of business rate relief in the immediate aftermath of the floods totalling £13,000 and a flood hardship grant of nearly £4,000.
It was a desperate time for landlady Janet Bilton, who took over the pub in 2008, and the five full-time and six part-time staff.
Janet Bilton this week said: “The last 12 months have been particularly difficult for us and we were really worried that we might not be able to trade through it but the loyalty and commitment of our staff has been amazing.
”Since the bridge reopened we’ve seen a resurgence in trade and a lot of familiar faces have returned to the pub.
“Our recent Bonfire Night festivities drew huge crowds and we’ve got a packed festive programme to keep customers coming back.”
The total cost to local businesses in lost trade has yet to be calculated but grants and business rate relief worth over £3.5 million has been paid to 284 businesses across Leeds.
Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis said: “It is fantastic news to hear the Windmill Inn is now firmly back on its feet following a very difficult time for Janet and her staff while Linton Bridge was closed for repair.
“The council was pleased to offer financial support and guidance to such a historic local business and employer, and the scenes of celebration when the bridge reopened reuniting the communities of Linton and Collingham were very special.
“The bridge repair itself was an incredibly complex challenge, and again we need to thank everyone involved with it for a job very well done and the residents of the two communities for being so patient and supportive.”
Linton Bridge suffered major damage to its foundations during the Christmas 2015 floods, with the south pier visibly sinking along with cracks in the central and southern arches and damage to the stone parapets and walls of the bridge.
As a result the bridge was closed from December 27 2015 until it was officially reopened at a community celebration event attended by the Lord Mayor of Leeds Coun Jane Dowson on September 2 this year.