IT’S all change at the Red Lion pub, in Burnsall, after the Grayshon family calls time as mine hosts following three decades at the helm.

The popular Dales pub was bought by Elizabeth Grayshon on November 21, 1991. Working with her husband, Andrew, the couple kept the business in the family, with their four daughters and three of their sons-in-law taking over the running of the pub.

The family has now called time on the enterprise and this week the business was taken over by another family concern, Thwaites Brewery.

Since 2011 eldest daughter Sarah Howes has organised weddings and events, second daughter Victoria Rowley has been in charge of accounts and her husband, Jim, as bar manager.

The youngest daughters are Katy Verot and Eleanor Brown. Katy, married to joint head chef Olivier Verot, has been in charge of marketing and Eleanor, married to the other joint head chef, Charlie Brown, has been responsible for Human Resources.

Sarah said: “There have been many, amazing times. We have enjoyed hosting weddings, shoot groups and functions. We have met a lot of amazing people over the years. Many have become firm friends.”

The Red Lion has been one of the longest running family-owned pubs in the Dales. The next generation have also been involved as nearly all of them have worked during school/ college holidays.

And what of The Red Lion which has been dispensing hospitality for centuries? The cellars (inhabited by a mischievous ghost who finds it amusing to turn off the beer taps and icemaker) date from the 12th century, and the original ‘one up, one down’ structure which is now the bar, from the 16th. Over the years The Lion has been gradually extended to form the lovely old building it is today. Beamed ceilings, creaky sloping floors and a wealth of character abound. Since 1991 the family have sympathetically upgraded The Lion whilst still retaining the essential character of this lovely old country inn.

One major change was the introduction of staff from abroad. Not long after the family took over there was an influx of French staff; the business was often referred to as Le Lion Rouge. This led to boulles being introduced into Burnsall with a very popular Boulles Night once a week. There were also some memorable Bastille Nights and Beaujolais Nouveau occasions. Staffing has moved on and the staff are now mostly Central European. Some of these workers have settled in the area and their children now attend Burnsall School. Alongside these workers from abroad the Red Lion has also employed a host of people from the local community.

It is supporting the community that is one of the strengths of the Red Lion over the years. They have, often quietly, been involved in a whole host of activities in the local area. They have raised countless thousands for charities and everyone has had fun along the way. Just to name a few of these….there have been Casino Nights, Scaletrix Evening, Inter-village University Challenge, Cricket and Rounders suppers, Murder Mystery night, countless generous donations to raffles, Monthly Winter Fun Quiz during the winter, Burnsall Sports, Christmas Fair, Fawlty Towers Night, Sports Dinners and Red Nose events…and more.

The support did not waver during the recent lockdown – the Red Lion became the Village Shop; home deliveries were arranged and there was superb take away food. They also looked after their staff.

Thwaites has put in a new management team headed by Peter Barton as general manager, deputy manager Ryan Salter and assistant manager James Eather. The team is looking forward to taking over a great established business which it doesn’t want to change. As Peter said “It is not a broken business”, a compliment to the Family and also a commitment to carry on supporting the community. In time there will be investment and refurbishment but they are very happy with the business as it is for now.

There will be a new head chef taking over from Charlie Brown and Olivier Verot. Jamie Anderson (from the Lister’s Arms, Malham) will be running the kitchen with the rest of the present team being retained. The new menu will incorporate the present menu with some interesting and mouth-watering additions.

When it comes to beers Thwaites will be introducing its core range. It will continue with guest beers including the ever-popular Hetton Ales (which is also established across its other pubs).

Ryan summed up the team’s outlook by saying: “Another family business is buying the Red Lion. It may be a bigger company but its roots are in the family – supporting the community is very important to us and we will be welcoming all ages”.

It has been a fantastic 30 years for the Grayshon family and they are now moving on. Sarah said they will take some time to readjust and then consider what to do. They have had a great time at the Red Lion. It has become “home” for three generations.