Pubpaper 787 – New Pubs, Old Pubs, Closed Pubs

Posted: 3rd December 2014 by santobugtio in Pub Paper, Writing

Recently, myself, friends and extended family visited the Huddersfield Festival of Light in Georges Square.  A light show to entertain the children, the adults having a few drinks outside while they were kept entertained, a nice plan.  Except somebody decided to put all the food and drink vendors in the same narrow corridor, meaning queues from one stand merged with all the others and you couldn’t swing a mouse, never mind a cat.   The Head of Steam was five deep at the bar, so I ended up going into the Kings Head, a pub I’ve never been in my 17 years in the area.

12072716065_7ca0035392_zOnly two deep in customers, it was relative luxury. However despite the fact that 2 sides of the pub are covered in plastic sheeting and the roof is held up by 3 tension supports whilst the railway station has improvement work done, it is a worthy addition to the square along with the Head of Steam.  A nice selection of about 8 real ales including Magic Rock Ringmaster, a cracking session ale, of which two were taken back outside for me and my dad while we waited for something to happen (note to organisers, please keep things moving a bit more in the square next year if it goes ahead again).

After most of the party went for a curry, me and my parents retired back to the Kings Head for a couple of pints and found it to be friendly, reasonable beer prices (£8 for two session ales and premium lager) and holding well kept ales.  If you’ve not been there, it’s definitely worth popping in.   Post watching the excellent STEM musical piece accompanying George Melies “A Trip to the Moon”, we headed down to my favourite pub in Huddersfield, Hand Drawn Monkey.  Sampling the Hand Drawn Monkey Pale Ale and Great Heck Yakima IPA was a treat as usual.

12073029553_f362f933f5_bBut the atmosphere there is what makes the place, great for adults while also being good for families.  It is a small venue, but cosy, not cramped.  The staff know their beer (frankly given the number of good ales pubs in the town, the area is not short of knowledgeable bar staff), and the addition of the new keg and taps to the bar has just added to the range on offer.   After the rest of the party joined us post curry, our group of 10 people with 5 children was no problem even on a Saturday night at 7pm.   Their own beer from the Hand Drawn Monkey Brewery is worth the trip ignoring all the take out options on the shelves behind the bar.

Moving back closer to home, I popped into the new Millers Bar in Brighouse earlier the same day (based on the site of the Black Swan opposite Rokt).  So new you can smell the paint still, the bar is modern in decor and more importantly the staff are attentive and welcoming from the go.   There is good range of beers including 4 real ales, 4 craft beers and a number of good continental beers.  I tried Camden Town Pale Ale and their house beer brewed by Stud Fold Brewery.  Both were good beers and served in good condition.  The venue was very family friendly with children being welcomed to help decorate the christmas tree.  With off street parking (a god send on Brighouse Christmas Market weekend), its on my return list.

10801825_1576975862532921_6447224973115537272_nBrighouse is now stuffed with good pubs, The Beck, Red Rooster, Ship Inn, Commercial, Jeremys and Millers, it’s easier to fall into a good pub than not now and this list ignores other places like Wetherspoons which do a good job in their own right.  But you are seeing the same pattern extending throughout the Calderdale area, much reduced reports of pubs closing and new drinking establishments opening in new venues.  Only recently Oates have opened their brewery tap two evenings a week and the new bar on the site of the old Ricci and Capones unit behind the theatre in Halifax looks promising on paper.

What has been seen on the negative side though is that the pubs which closed 2 or 3 years ago and have been left shuttered are now becoming active properties again, but not as pubs but local supermarkets, day nurseries and private housing to name a few uses.  The now boarded up Pump Room in Halifax will become rubble eventually when the white elephant of the new shopping centre is built.  This is why the the Black Swan to Millers conversion is great as it keeps an existing pub alive.

The great British pub may have its peaks and troughs, but it will survive as long as there is Britons who want a beer.  Venues may change, but our desire for beer will support that.