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Snowstorm leaves 61 stranded in remote U.K. pub

  • COURTESY TAN HILL INN / FACEBOOK
                                In this screen capture from Facebook, customers and staff have been stuck at the Tan Hill Inn for days due to a snowstorm.

    COURTESY TAN HILL INN / FACEBOOK

    In this screen capture from Facebook, customers and staff have been stuck at the Tan Hill Inn for days due to a snowstorm.

Up on a hill in Yorkshire, England, a crowd filled a pub on Friday to listen to an Oasis tribute band. Inside the pub, the Tan Hill Inn, the beers were cold, the fires were warming and the musicians were electric.

But outside, the winds were howling and the snow was swirling. The pubgoers knew the forecast was dire, but not so much that piles of snow as high as 3 feet would block the pub’s exits, said Nicola Townsend, the inn’s general manager.

After the tribute band, Noasis, finished its set, local authorities said it was not safe to drive home, Townsend said today.

So the patrons, the band members and seven inn employees stayed the night.

And then another.

And tonight, they were preparing to stay another.

Though the roads were not safe to travel, a group of off-roaders took a couple of parents home to their young children, Townsend said. A local mountain rescue group also helped evacuate a man who needed medical treatment for an “ongoing condition.”

That has left 61 people, mostly strangers, stranded at the pub. To pass the time, they took pub quizzes, watched movies like “Grease” and “Mamma Mia!” and sang karaoke, Townsend said.

“Lots of Oasis at the moment,” she said, adding that the pubgoers have started calling the tribute band “Snowasis.”

Band members had to cancel a performance Saturday night because they were snowed in. “We have no way of making it to our gig,” the band said on Facebook.

Those at the pub have enjoyed a few beers but no one is “getting loud and drunk,” Townsend said, because they want to be “respectful of each other.”

Some of those who were stranded already had rooms at the inn, while others had parked their motor homes outside. The rest crammed into the lounge, where they slept on sofas or on the floor. Employees supplied them with mattresses, blankets and pillows and kept the fireplaces roaring.

They hope they can leave on Monday afternoon, but the problem, Townsend said, is that a downed power line has blocked the road leading out of the remote pub. The pub is in Richmond, a town in North Yorkshire, which is more than 200 miles northwest of London.

Outside the pub, the United Kingdom has been reeling from the storm, which has been blamed for the deaths of at least three people who died in separate episodes Friday.

A man died in Cumbria, England, after a tree hit him, police there said, while the other two — a man in Northern Ireland and a man in Aberdeenshire, Scotland — were struck by falling trees in their cars, authorities said.

The storm has paralyzed swaths of Britain’s power grid and left thousands without power. The Met Office, Britain’s national weather service, has issued several warnings since Friday about high winds and snow from the storm, which it has named Storm Arwen.

The weather has shown no signs of letting up for the pub patrons. A video on social media showed snow blanketing the doorway and the cars parked outside, though emergency workers looked to be clearing a path out of the pub.

The episode has drawn attention from around the world, and the inn has kept people updated on Facebook. In a post on Sunday night, it jokingly called the pubgoers “inmates” and said that “some are at breaking point.”

But Townsend said that, for the most part, “everybody seems to be really quite happy.”

“The best way I can describe it is it’s like being at a party with all your friends,” she said, adding that the inn would not run out of food because it stocks up for the winter.

Those gathered have shared roast dinners, a couple of beers and even a buffet (on the house) with “lots of different picky bits,” she said. Patrons have helped wash dishes and taken up a collection for the staff.

“We will ALWAYS remember this group of amazing people who came together, and hopefully, in challenging circumstances, enjoyed what we all think was a life-changing experience,” another Facebook post said.

This is not the first time people have been snowed in at the inn. Townsend said this also happened on New Year’s Day in 2010. Waitrose & Partners, a U.K. grocery chain, filmed a commercial at the inn in 2017 featuring snowbound pubgoers enjoying a meal together.

The group stuck in the pub may have started Friday as strangers, but they will leave as friends, Townsend said, adding, “We’ve even talked about having a reunion next year.”

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