AN award-winning village pub that has been run by the same family for 80 years is to close.
The Ferry Boat Inn in Thorganby, south of York, has become renowned in recent years for its selection of real ales, its riverside garden, and for Olive Rogers, who has been licensee since 1948.
The pub is run day-to-day by Olive’s daughter and son-in-law, Jackie and Phil Williamson, but Phil has been battling Parkinson’s disease for two years, which has made running the pub increasingly difficult. Because the pub is integrated into the couple’s house, they say they have no choice but to close.
In a notice to customers, displayed in the pub yesterday, Phil and Jackie wrote: “We understand what the Ferry Boat Inn means to many of you and because of that it has taken a long time to arrive at this decision.
“We would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us since our real ale venture started in 1997. We have many fond memories of the last 17 years.”
They said the decision had been taken with “deep regret and much sadness”.
Phil and Jackie, who are both in their early 60s, will close the pub at midnight on September 27, and although they have not planned a formal party, they realise many former customers will want to say farewell.
The building dates back to the 1700s and was originally the ferryman’s house. The pub has been in Jackie’s family since March 1934, when her great, great uncle John Rouse took it over. It then passed to her grandfather William Brown Bolton, then her mother Olive Rogers.
Phil, a former engineer, and Jackie, a former teacher in secondary schools around York, took over in 1997, but Olive remained as licensee and is among the longest-serving landladies in the country.
Phil is a devoted real ale fan and refocused the pub, and it was named Yorkshire pub of the year by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) in 2010, and York pub of the year in 2010 and 2013. It also won the award for best outdoor area in The Press Pub Awards in 2010, honouring its beer garden that slopes down to the River Derwent.
Phil told The Press yesterday: “It has amazed me how well it has done really. I’m a real ale fan and had wanted to keep it going as a pub but to win the awards was incredible.
“We saw the York one as the pinnacle, given some of the brilliant pubs York has, but then to win the Yorkshire award was beyond my wildest dreams.
“A place like this is just so unusual. It’s like pubs used to be, part of people’s homes.”
Jackie said the pub reminded customers of a simpler time, with its lack of music, machines or televisions – and until recently a lack of mobile-hone signal.
She said some of their best memories would be of the beer festival they held for the Royal wedding in 2011 and the celebratory party when they won the Yorkshire Camra award.
Matt Grant, membership secretary of the York branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, fell in love with The Ferry Boat – and even got engaged there.
Matt, pictured here with Phil and Jackie at the 2010 York Camra Beer and Cider Festival, said: “It may be a bit of a cliché, but The Ferry Boat Inn really is a pub with a reputation that precedes it.
“I had heard a lot about it before my first visit back in 2007 and was not disappointed.
“It has an idyllic setting, a great beer range and most importantly you are made to feel very welcome, whoever you are, which sometimes isn’t the case in small, rural pubs.
“I liked it so much that my wife and I even got engaged in the beer garden in 2011!
“Phil and Jackie were two of a small number of publicans who were pioneers of real ale in the York area in the late nineties. They are passionate about beer and great supporters of local breweries and other pubs in the York area.
“I had the pleasure of presenting two York Camra Pub of the Year awards to the pub and few people have been so genuinely delighted to have received the award.
“It is a special place and home to a lovely family that I, and many others, will miss visiting.”