A RETIRED rugby league star who bought a village pub in North Yorkshire is opening specially for Christmas.

The Farmers Arms in Muker in the heart of Swaledale, which has been recently bought by former Yorkshire Rugby League player Andy Gascoigne, opened its doors today (Wednesday, December 23).

It has been closed for the past three months for a comprehensive refurbishment. Festive food and drink will be served, with strict anti-Covid measures in place.

Mr Gascoigne also owns the Haworth Steam Brewery, one of the country’s smallest independent microbreweries, and Haworth Gins.

During a glittering Rugby League career, he played for Bramley, Hull FC, Leeds, Doncaster before finishing his career in York.

He said: “Covid has played havoc with our refurbishment plans, but we have worked really hard to ensure our lovely inn is open for the local community over Christmas. Muker simply wouldn’t be the same if we were closed – the Farmers Arms is the heartbeat of the village.

“We will stay open until the New Year – and then close again so we can complete our thorough overhaul, which will create a fabulous new inn for Swaledale.

“One of the highlights this Christmas will be the famous Muker Silver Band, who date back to the 19th century, playing on Christmas Eve. This will be a really special occasion, especially after the challenging year we had all had.

“A short Christmas opening was not what my wife Mandy and I had in mind, when we bought the inn in the autumn. We had wanted to buy a pub for some time and we knew Muker and The Farmers Arms very well. It was the perfect fit.

“We already have a brewery and drinks business, so we are no strangers to the licensed trade. We’ve got some exciting plans for the pub and look forward to opening permanently early next year, Covid permitting.

“At the Farmers Arms, our philosophy like those who have gone before us, is to preserve its history, traditions and atmosphere. Step inside and find a stone flagged floor, open fire, and beautifully kept real ales (usually five, including Old Peculier), home-cooked food and a very warm welcome from our small, but perfectly-formed team.

“Muddy boots and well behaved dogs on leads are always welcome. We are family friendly but please respect our size and environment.”