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Author recounts life running Britain's highest pub in the Yorkshire Dales
WITH no experience and a complete inability to understand the dialect of the locals, Neil and Sue Hanson were not the ideal people to take on the management of Britain’s highest pub.
THE HIGH LIFE: The Tan Hill Inn is Britain’s highest pub, at 528m above sea level
In the late 1970s, The Tan Hill Inn, in the Yorkshire Dales, was slowly falling down, riddled with rats and had no mains service - except for a radio telephone.
The eager and well-meaning - but ultimately incompetent couple - endured as disaster-strewn year in charge of the pub which Mr Hanson has now relived in his book, The Inn at the Top.
The book includes colourful details of the pub’s customers including a group from the Naturist Society which came for the weekend.
“They asked if we minded having having two dozen nude people about the place and I said ‘no problem’.
“A large contingent of farmers came along to enjoy the free entertainment.
“According to Sue, after some prolonged scrutiny, there were certainly no Errol Flynn’s and quite a few Tiny Tims.”
Another of the pub’s customers was Faith, a hard-drinking woman in her late 70s, who would catch a ride up to the pub every morning in the back of the postman’s van.
Mr Hanson said Faith hated two people in the world – a Methodist minister who 30 years earlier had bought and then closed the village pub, and more surprisingly, Hannah Hauxwell, who became a household name after TV cameras captured her solitary existence on a Teasdale farm.
“I suspected that if a documentary was to be made about a woman living under incredibly primitive conditions in a lonely and remote dale, Faith had other ideas about who the subject might be,” Mr Hanson said.
Although finding it hard work, the couple enjoyed the experience so much that they bought Tan Hill in 1984.
During their second spell at the pub, they were responsible for convincing double glazing company Everest to fit insulated windows and film their now-famous commercial featuring Ted Moult at the pub.
The new windows were fitted without planning permission causing a very public row with Teesdale District Council.
“It was the only advert to be run in full on the six o’clock news,” Mr Hanson said, 64.
Mr Hanson, now an author who lives in Ilkley, said the couple had been “hopelessly naive” and had no idea what they were letting themselves in for.
“We had a terrible winter when we were snowed in for all but a handful of days from Christmas to April.
“But I have no regrets about it at all – it was a great experience which I’ve dined out on ever since.”
The book costs £8.99 and is available from bookshops across the region, as well as from online book retailers.
Mr Hanson will recount tales from his time at Tan Hill at Richmond School at 7.30pm on Friday as part of the town’s Richmond Walking and Book Festival.
Tickets cost £6. Call 01748-824243 to book.
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