Six years ago the Blacksmiths Arms in Cayton was a hair’s breadth away from being turned into houses.
The pub had been closed for a year. By June 2016 a planning application was in and approved and the once hub of the village was set to disappear.
Then, in stepped the Bushbys – husband and wife Nigel, an electrician, and Suzi, a singer, and their daughter Dani, who have lived in nearby Killerby for nine years.
“This was the heart of the village. We could not bear the thought of it being turned into housing,” said Suzi. “Once it had gone, it was gone for good.”
Three years’ hard work, four extensions and a £2 million refurbishment later – the Blacksmiths reopened for business at Christmas.
It is now called The Farrier, has a restaurant downstairs, a bar and cocktail lounge above it – where visitors can enjoy a pint or the more exotic sounding Toblerone cocktail – a funtion room and four bespoke bedrooms. There has been a smithy on the Main Street site for centuries. At one time the blacksmith also used to break in horses.
“We wanted to be contemporary but with a nod to its history,” said Suzi.
Or has Dani put it: “Give a new heart to an old soul.”
Signs of its horse traditions are everywhere. The family came up with the character of the Farrier – a bowler hat, riding crops and riding boots – and have carried the theme throughout the elegant, characterful and charming interior.
There are bowler hat lampshades, bread at dinner is served in a bowler hat, riding crops, saddles, horseshoes, bits and reins adorn the walls and furniture.
Maps – highlighting the Cayton smithy – from centuries gone by paper a couple of the interior walls.
The bedrooms are named Seabiscuit – the US champion thoroughbred racehorse; Warhorse – in tribute to the animals which died on the World War One battlefields; Dream Alliance – a racehorse owned by a Welsh syndicate; and Black Beauty – after the horse featured in the book by Anna Sewell.
Suzi sourced a first edition of Sewell’s children’s book to place in the room. She also tracked down the uniform of the Army Veterinary Corps and turned it into a chair covering.
Each room is decorated and furnished to a high specification including TVs, Alexa, mini-bars, safe, four-posters in two rooms, super king-sized beds in the other two rooms and bespoke bathroom accessories.
Dani keeps horses and rides, and did a degree in horse husbandry before making a career in hospitality including working at Downcliffe House, Filey.
“We wanted to make it personal to us,” she said.
It is the family’s first such venture. They employ 30 staff, many from the village.
Word of mouth on the restaurant has been fantastic with weekends booked up for weeks ahead.
It serves lunch and dinner and offers Sunday lunch – all the menus are first class and, having eaten there, I can vouch for the quality of the food and service.
“We have staked everything on it working,” said Suzi. “We have put our hearts, souls and, of course, money and money we do not have into it. It is our love of the village and the area that made us want to do it,” she said.