August 13th, 2012Beer Events
My Dad says he’s sure that Halifax once boasted the most pubs per square foot, and since the day he told me countless others have barked in consternation, claiming their town had the most public houses per capita or most inns per household or most taverns per dog owner.
Whoever lays the claim to whichever fact we’ve always wondered what the pubs that Britain was built on actually looked like. Who frequented them? What was the decor like? How much have they changed over the years?
Tomorrow evening we hope to find out as we head off to a special screening off “Roll Out The Barrel – The British Pub on Film” in the comfort of Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds.
The British Film Institute have collated this collection of films shot between 1944 and 1977 and all centre on the hub of British society, the humble local boozer.
To complete our history lesson in style beer will be served thanks to Kirkstall Brewery, and if that’s not a reason to go the cinema, I don’t know what is.
I may even try to finish Paul Jenning’s excellent book “The Local: A History of the English Pub” in advance, it’s well worth a read.
Tags: beer industry, british pubs, cinema, film
Roll Out the Barrel, Tuesday 14th August, 9pm (doors 8.30pm), tickets from £4.50-£6.50. Book by calling Box Office on 0113 275 2045 or online at www.hydeparkpicturehouse.co.uk
At the first pub there’s a piano in the window but no one to play it. The seats are filled with ghosts. A long pew is adorned with individually wrapped cushions, resembling a bum-friendly box of Mr Kipling cakes. It’s quiet, the fireplace glows warm and friendly, everything is cosy and snug. Welcome to Pete’s Retreat. “We’ll be at home here, let’s get a pint.”
Much as we could stay forever we’ve a long crawl ahead so off we march off towards The Plum Tree Arms. We’re first in so grab the dominoes and two pints of Wold Top Bitter. The artefacts and fittings come from pubs past and present, and from beside the 1910s till Geoff pours with skill. He quickly challenges us to a game of Yorkshire darts. With no trebles to help us we don’t fancy our chances!
Next up is the modern wooden doors of The Tranters Arms. It’s the antithesis of our first stop, walls like a flat pack sauna and an uncompromisingly purple pool table sitting squarely in the middle of the main room. Tall silver fonts peer over a fussball table, a darts board (regular this time). It’s a back garden sports bar. Only one thing for it, let’s sink a cool lager.
The Magpie, sat deep in hop country, in the garden of Kent. Armchairs prevail here, if you can find them beneath the clutter of a hoarding landlord. We slump down and rest amongst the lived-in charms. And then we spot jagerbombs… let the party begin!
Along the twilight air we hear music, and follow the bluegrass tunes to the Gem Saloon. Guitars, double bass and harmonicas light up the night. Folk feet tap, dancing fingers strum, a violin screeches and a banjo jingle-jangles everyone to their feet. There’s food on the hob, the wood burner chugs away, beer flows freely. Under the hazy yellow glow of oil lamps everyone is free, everyone is in a better place.
Our night ends at The Cool Runnings Rum Shack. We’re running on empty but the shutters are open wide (do they ever close?) and tired eyes find new legs. Under moonlight we ditch the Red Stripe beer for cocktails and spiced spirits, admiring the graft that’s gone into this personal homage. We and stay up late, prostrate on the grass watching stars roll gently over the impossibly deep sky.
Tags: beer at home, beer garden, british pubs, drinking at home, Garden, sheds
As you might have guessed this pub crawl never happened. The pubs all exist though – each one is a home built castle and has been entered into the pub category of this years Readers Shed’s competition.
Head Sheddie Andrew Wilcox says that over the last two years entrants to the category have risen 20%. Whether it’s because of local pub closures, rising on trade beer prices, the unreliable garden weather or a weak property market, it seems that pubs are the new greenhouses and beer the new wine. “It’s the most contested category” Andrew tells us, “and the majority plump for a traditional pub rather than wine bar.
Whatever the reason, here’s to the landlord sheddies and their DIY Moon Under Waters. And make sure you get your vote in before tomorrow’s deadline – Saturday 16th June Midnight GMT.
A brisk day in March, wet but without rain. Ducking through the dripping steel railway bridge, carving through residual puddles, Sowerby Bridge seems jack-knifed between the twenty first century and the 1970s. It’s partly the lack of ubiquitous chain stores, partly the dubious puns of the shabby independent shops, but mostly the hues of a downtrodden day in a small Yorkshire town.
Out the other side of the town the road befriends the trajectory of the River Ryburn as it steers through the steep wooded valley, roaming towards the Calder. The Triangle public house, in the tiny village of Triangle, is boarded up, not the first dead watering hole on the winding roads that lead to the quiet, charming town of Ripponden.
At Ripponden, about as remote an urban centre you can get in the sprawl of West Yorkshire, time blends from 1970s into the eighteenth century in the shadow of the Victorian church. A few footsteps further on the day retreats to nearer the 1670s as a cold breeze rustles across the cobbles of the ancient humpbacked bridge that leads to a quiet, unassuming public house.
The Old Bridge deserves its name. The bridge from which it takes its name, just like the church whose shadow it lies in, has been rebuilt many times since the first packhorse crossing. The pub is as old, over 700 years as the oldest records attest too. In the 14th century the town were not even on the first of their four churches that the river or weather has razed along the way. Old broom, new handles, new brushes.
The Ryburn runs straight and narrow under the ancient structure, the pub nestles on the northern side, resplendent in bright white wash. Warm fires, real ale, fine dining, but with not an ounce of pretension. The Old Bridge is family run, locally revered, bustling with merry drinkers around the bar and belly-patting diners, content and perhaps a little dozy.
Since 1307 similar scenes may have been played out in this hidden pocket of hostelry. On the main York to Chester road, journey-worn travellers would have put their feet up here, may have knocked back unfussy ale and unfussy food, stocking up on victuals and sleep. Curled up in a window nook in 2012 the beer is a little brighter and food is a little more fussy (but excellent) – scallops with parsnip puree, mackerel pate, sea bass with chorizo, crisp and luscious belly pork.
Bowed by time, oak beams run low in the sitting rooms either side of the cheery communal bar, warmed by fires or stoves and sitting under a cockeyed triangular roof that’s seen seven centuries of welcomes and goodbyes.
The river barely flows. A tear drop on the neck of a window box daffodil is frozen in the crisp Sunday air. Under these bows, between mahogany panelled walls, Airedale Valley Bitter meets chocolate orange brownie (scrumptious), and like that droplet, we’re immovable, resolved to enjoy the slowness with which two hours lumber by.
One hundred and twenty minutes. But a tiny percentage of the years and patrons that the Old Bridge has watched over in its lifetime.Tags: british pubs, West Yorkshire, yorkshire
From the gastro pubs of Ilkley to the cove-view nooks of Robin Hood’s Bay; from the alleyway drinking dens of Leeds, to the walkers respites littering Garsdale, Wensleydale, Dentdale, Ribblesdale, Malhamdale, Nidderdale…
Yorkshire is blessed with pubs, nearly 10% of all the public houses in Britain. Some good, some bad, each and everyone someone’s favourite. All 5,115 of them.
What better way to spend the Bank Holiday than oiling your discourse down the local, or heeding Milton Crawford and taking a moment to reflect on life. And when your done, you can vote for your favourite Yorkshire pub at Yorkshire.com/pub
Tags: british pubs, Pubs & bars, ribblesdale, West Yorkshire, yorkshire
There are 54,000 pubs in Britain and 5,115 pubs in Yorkshire. Ish. Thanks to the border hungry constituency of Brigg & Goole which straddles both the East Riding of Yorkshire and the northern climes of Lincolnshire we’ve had to apply some educated guesswork to the final tally. Thanks to the CAMRA press team and the British Beer & Pub Association for help locating the raw data. And thanks to Dan Cohen, John FotoHouse and Rick Harrison for the pics!
April 21st, 2011Pubs & bars
I had the pleasure of being invited to the re-opening of a pub this week. Someone has paid a visit to what used to be the Three Horseshoes in Otley and replaced its worn out steel trotters to get the place back on its feet.
The newly named Horse and Farrier on Bridge Street in Otley is the fifteenth addition to Market Town Taverns’ portfolio, which stretches across North and West Yorkshire including Arcadia in Leeds, Brigantes in York and Bar t’at in Ilkley).
Now, I’ll lay my cards on the table, I’ve long been a fan of Market Town Taverns, I like the cut of their jib and I like that there’s always a selection of 8 real ales available, as well as a handy selection of bottled beers. The Old Bell Tavern, another Market Town Taverns pub, is my local in Harrogate it’s very traditionally styled, has real character and I even had my wedding reception in the restaurant there.Tags: british pubs, Horse & Farrier, Market Town Taverns, Otley, Pubs & bars, Three Horseshoes, West Yorkshire
January 23rd, 2011Pubs & bars
Built in 1741 as a house for the timber merchant Edmund Maude, The Palace was first recorded as an inn in 1841 and is believed to have been named after one of the breweries whose ale it sold. In 1830 the Beerhouse Act was passed which allowed any householder who paid rates to apply for a two guinea excise licence to sell beer and brew it on their premises. This led to 46,000 new pubs being created within eight years.
In the ten years following the Beerhouse Act the number of pubs in Leeds rose from 270 to 545 and it is thought that The Palace may be one of those along with the Eagle Tavern on North Street. The licensing laws were changed in 1869 and this had the effect of tightening the rules to apply for a licence. Originally outwith the Leeds boundary, being located just outside the East Bar, (the marking stone for which can be found just slightly higher up Kirkgate towards the city centre set into the boundary wall of Leeds Parish Church) as Leeds expanded it became a city centre pub.Tags: british pubs, leeds, palace, Pubs & bars, yorkshire
February 18th, 2010Pubs & bars
As an adolescent I was lucky enough to have three excellent local pubs, all within 200 yards on the same road. Set back from the road The Horse and Jockey was a lively pub with one bar and a lounge with dart board, pool table and Sky tv. The beer was lager, one or two hand pulls of something like Hooky Bitter and at one point a Chinese takeaway operating in the back room servng takeaways to the hungry inhabitants. Read the rest of this entry »Tags: bakers arms, british pubs, community, Hook Norton, Hooky, horse and jockey, Oxfordshire, pub names, Pubs & bars, the plough