A SECOND pub in York city centre has closed suddenly.

The Brown Cow, in Hope Street off Walmgate, is shut and ground floor windows have been boarded up.

There was no visible explanation on Friday for its closure, the pub’s phone number was disconnected and the owners, Samuel Smith’s Brewery in Tadcaster, was unavailable for comment.

Another Samuel Smith’s pub, the York Arms in High Petergate, close to York Minster, closed last month, again with no explanation to customers for the closure and no comment from the brewery, and it remained shut last week.

A third pub owned by the brewery, the Kings Arms in Kings Staith - one of York’s best known pubs because of its susceptibility to flooding - closed temporarily earlier this year, when a notice in the pub’s window advertised for a live-in management couple to run it.

The Brown Cow hit the headlines in 2009 when The Press revealed that the landlord was having to climb a scaffolding staircase to get into his first-floor flat through a window after being sacked for smoking in his own bar.

The licensee said he lit up after closing the pub early one night, believing that smoking legislation would not apply when the pub was shut. But a council licensing officer carrying out a routine check spotted him and fined him £50 and he said he had been sacked for “gross misconduct” by the brewery.

He said he and his wife were able to stay in the flat for the time being, but because the brewery did not want them going through the pub to get to their accommodation, it had arranged for scaffolding to be erected at the back so they could climb in through a first floor window. Regulars were critical of the treatment of the publican and his wife, and claimed they deserved better after running the pub well for the past couple of years.

The brewery declined to comment but York council confirmed smoking legislation applied to workplaces 24 hours a day, regardless of whether they were open, and said a landlord would be entitled to smoke in his private premises but not in the public bar.