Thursday, 27 October 2011

The jewel at the heart of our local community

East End Park is an area almost totally lacking in basic infrastructure but there is a shining beacon of community spirit and engagement.  The Spring Close Tavern has been a pub since it was built in the 1840's and was once part of the famous East Street Run.  Over the last twenty years the pub, like the surrounding area, has been allowed to become run down but in 2009 when new manager Mike Andrew took it over the Spring Close started on its journey from local dump to neighbourhood treasure.

It has not been easy to turn around a pub with a previously bad reputation but with a great deal of hard work and persistence by both Mike and his partner Chris this has been achieved.

Mike and Chris have introduced a selection of hand-pulled high quality local beers and now have such a reputation for supplying these ales that they are to appear in the 2012 CAMRA Good pub guide for Leeds.  The next step along the way is to introduce simple top quality pub food.
The pub plays host to many local community groups who, without its generous support, would be without a venue for their members to socialise; amongst them is a fishing club and the East End Park Bowling Club who now proudly wear club shirts sponsored by the Spring Close.

Mike and Chris  really believe in putting something back into their community and when COVEN explained about the closure of our library in Richmond Hill and the lack of adequate provision for reading in the area they, without hesitation, offered to host the Cupcake Book Club on the first Tuesday of every month. At the book club meetings members bring along home baked cupcakes to share and also discuss books, life and the universe! Due to the club’s runaway success the pub has since put in a bookcase where people can leave donated books and others can either take books home to read or maybe enjoy a chapter or two whilst sitting by the roaring open fire. For those who wish to a small donation can be made to St Gemma's Hospice for the use of the books.  There is even a small children’s section and plans to add a toy library in the future as supervised children are welcome before 7pm in the evening. So far this project has offered a wide variety of books to people who may find it difficult to get to the new mobile libraries and customers have raised £35 for St Gemma’s from this scheme.

The pub provides tea and coffee as an alternative  for those who prefer a non alcoholic drink with their treats and the popularity of this  group has spawned a Genealogy group and a Craft group, both run by local people helping to provide much needed low cost entertainment and community support to friends and neighbours  and to pass on traditional skills which are now coming back into favour.

All in all this little pub has once again become a focal point for the community of East End Park and Richmond Hill and we must do our utmost to see that it does not go the way of other former treasures of the community and end up either bought by a property developer and left to go derelict until land prices rise again or turned into more unneeded and expensive flats which add nothing to the community infrastructure where they are based but take so much away.