The Black Bull Inn is an historic public house situated in the pretty rural village of Moulton, North Yorkshire and thanks to a £2 million investment, a little TLC and some good old-fashioned hospitality it is now open seven days a week and pulling in the punters following its closure in 2012.
In the spring of 2013, The Black Bull was taken under the wing of new owners Michael Ibbotson and Chris Blundell, directors of the prestigious Provenance Inns group. The highly anticipated opening in April of this year was led by the Foreign Secretary William Hague, Conservative MP for Richmond, North Yorkshire.
Speaking at the event he shared one particular personal memory he has of the pub:
“Many thousands of people in this area and beyond will have very fond memories of this place and it is wonderful to see how it has been transformed for the future with brilliant interior design. Many years ago, I used to come here a lot. In fact somewhere in the corridor in the old configuration, is where I proposed to my wife on the 21st February 1997.”
Over the space of just four years North Yorkshire based Provenance Inns has grown its aspirational group of pubs to a total of six, all of which are located in ‘villages you would like to live in’. In August, Provenance Inns will swing open the doors to their first boutique hotel, The West Park, in the wealthy spa town of Harrogate.
The Provenance Inns’ collection has been carefully chosen to ensure each site is known as a hub for the community, and The Black Bull Inn certainly maintains this ideology. The pub offers a warm welcome from the tap room at the front and serves a fantastic menu throughout the large and airy, open plan dining room that overlooks an attractive landscaped courtyard.
Retaining the character and memories of the original Black Bull was a key ingredient for Provenance Inns, as was the opportunity to take the site forward to appeal to new customers. Interested to find out how Provenance Inns applied this way of thinking, Premier Hospitality caught up with group director Michael Ibbotson to get the lowdown on Moulton.
“The Black Bull Inn was beyond receivership when we moved in – it was derelict. However, that was actually what attracted us to it in the first place. People talk about location, location, location and I believe places are known to be great both because of where they are positioned, and the history that goes with them. When we look for a new site it is never about the number of people in a particular village, but rather the catchment of that village – The Black Bull Inn was no exception.
“All of our refurbishments are sympathetic to the original designs; we don’t want to turn our sites into something which they are not. So with The Black Bull Inn we have resurrected old aspects whilst at the same time built something new. For example, every part of the panelling from the original bar was numbered, removed, French polished and then reinstalled in order to keep as much of the original pub as we could. Likewise our new bathrooms and private dining rooms are in the same positions as they used to be, but they have now benefitted from some redecoration to bring them up to date.”
A new inclusion to The Black Bull Inn is a magnificent garden room which has been created from an extension to the site. The garden room incorporates a mix of glass, steel and wood in its design, as well as an eclectic collection of antique furniture.
The HACS Group was the main contractor on the refurbishment, whilst Michael Hall Associates provided architectural services on the project. Sasha McLuskey was appointed as the project’s interior designer.
Since the reopening of The Black Bull Inn feedback has been overwhelming, with a great deal of support from local customers.
“The feedback has been phenomenal; we’ve had the odd critique from people who knew the inn before and are surprised at the change, but once these customers have had a chance to have a really good look around they soon change their opinion. The locals love it and it gives them a great place to meet up and relax.”
“The whole character of a village pub comes from the people who frequent it and I wouldn’t want that to change. As with all Provenance Inns we are all-embracing and everyone is welcome, from customers who come here once every so often to those who come here every week.”
As well as providing the perfect setting, The Black Bull Inn is wowing guests with an a la carte menu designed to showcase the very best produce that Yorkshire has to offer, all locally sourced from the county’s best farmers and producers. The menu is championed by head chef Luke Taylor and includes dishes such as charcoal seared tornado of beef sirloin with caramelised carrots, smoked garlic mash and bone marrow, and ballotine of corn-fed chicken with Golden Cross goats cheese, crisp pancetta, sun blushed tomato cake and basil oil.
More traditional dishes on offer at The Black Bull Inn include fish ‘n’ chips with crushed garden peas, tartare sauce and lemon, and the ‘Bull’ burger made from 100% Yorkshire beef. Meat, fish and shellfish are cooked in The Black Bull’s Bertha Oven – affectionately known as Big Bertha – a solid steel and cast iron charcoal-fired oven which cooks at 400 degrees centigrade and weighs more than a ton.
Although The Black Bull Inn is trading well, Provenance has plans to develop the offering even further with accommodation on the horizon.
“We have planning permission for 16 bedrooms which will be constructed within a separate development on the site, situated within an adjoining garden to The Black Bull Inn. We did the groundwork on this during the refurbishment, so consequently we will be creating this with little disruption to the operation of the pub.”
Michael has worked in all aspects of the industry and along with partner Chris Blundell has built up the business through a clear understanding of how to create the best experience possible.
“I live and breathe my business and I want people to have a nice time. Money is hard to earn these days so I want people to feel that they have had value from their evening out. Our business grows through word of mouth and customer feedback. We can have the best kitchens, the best car parks, the best décor, but at the end of the day it is about food and service and that is what we always need to maintain – our hospitality.”
The Black Bull Inn is open for lunch Monday to Saturday 12 noon until 2:30pm and on Sundays for a traditional lunch from 12 noon until 3pm. The pub serves dinner from 5:30pm until 9:30pm every day except Sunday when dinner is served until 8:30pm.
For more information about The Black Bull Inn, please visit: www.theblackbullmoulton.com.
The HACS Group
Based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, The HACS Group is a leading construction company delivering a broad range of schemes, from road, utility and infrastructure projects to commercial and residential developments. The company has been in operation for 30 years and within this time has worked on various pub and hotel refurbishment schemes, a number of bespoke residential new build projects and a large biomass project.
Most recently The HACS Group was appointed as the main contractor on The Black Bull Inn, marking the first time that the company has worked with the Provenance Inns Group.
The HACS Group Managing Director, Mark Smith said:
“We were delighted to have the opportunity to work with Provenance Inns Group on this project.”
Mark founded the HACS Group at the age of 21 and has retained a very hands-on approach with the company ever since.
“At The HACS Group we are proud of our ability to deliver on time and on budget. We’re a flexible and proactive contractor and we always like to be involved at an early stage, working alongside our client. We have a number of in-house trades, from demolition and civil engineering to groundswork.”
Hillcross Furniture Ltd
Hill Cross have manufactured and supplied furniture for the new Black Bull Inn at Moulton. Banquette seating was made at the site in North Cowton, just two miles away from the venue. Bespoke upholstered chairs have also been supplied and seating compliments the unique architecture and interior of the site, which has been created with the utmost respect to the Inns history.
There’s been a huge trend recently in ‘casual dining’; environments where gourmet food can be enjoyed with family and friends in a relaxing and comfortable setting – a far cry from the starched silver-service standards of popular eateries of the 70s and 80s. This may seem like a new trend but looking back traditional British Inns supplied the casual dining of their day, with outdoor spaces and fresh air outside, local produce and great ales.
Richard Barufe said:
“The Inn is stunning and inviting, with a large area for à la carte dining, a relaxing bar and huge al fresco area. A chef’s table in a private suite is available just left of the bar and a large private area which can comfortably sit forty diners is lovingly decorated with fun Toulouse Lautrec inspired wallpaper, next to an opulent gold bar and incredible antique piano.”
Hill Cross’s banquette seating creates a homely comforting area in the bar and dotted around the soft seating are homely cushions and vintage-inspired decorations adding to the rich sense of history about the lovingly-recreated venue. Comfort is at the forefront of the design and most seating is upholstered in a warming orange fabric to bring the light and beautifully created space to life.
Marshall Catering Equipment
Marshall Catering Equipment specialise in the project management of commercial kitchens and has been in operation for 38 years. They have worked on a plethora of projects since their inception including Leeds United Centenary Pavilion and have worked on the £400m Building Schools for the Future initiative in Bradford.
Most recently the firm have worked on The Black Bull Inn project which is the latest venture of Provenance Inns. We caught up with Trevor Skinner, Managing Director at Marshall Catering Equipment, to find out more about the firms involvement. He said:
“With The Black Bull Inn we stripped out the existing kitchen and refitted it to the clients current design specification. As a company we fit floors, walls, ceilings, ventilation, beer cellars, cold rooms, freezer rooms, prime cooking equipment and wash up equipment.
“We have worked with Provenance Inns about seven times previously and so we have a great working relationship with them.”
Trevor said the firm pride themselves on being a very versatile and flexible outfit despite only employing 10 staff. The Managing Director added:
“We always get the job done and are proud that we can take on large projects with no worries, despite being a very small company.”