Wednesday, June 01, 2011

History Through A Pint Glass : The Huddersfield Georges



Wednesday 1st June 2011 12.15pm
So here I sit in the Founder's Bar of the George Hotel in Huddersfield. The founders in question, I imagine, are the founders of the sport of Rugby League, as it was in this hotel that the professional game was invented in 1895. Another clue is that the wall is covered with pictures and memorabilia of rugby players, rugby teams and rugby balls. No doubt those original 19th century founders would feel slightly out of place in this modern brass and glass bourgeois palace. No doubt they would have been slightly upset to discover that there were no real ales, no polished beer pumps, no pies and no peas. A uniform row of nozzles serve what little selection there is : you can have Canadian Carling, Dutch Grolsch, Irish Caffreys or something that is hidden behind a curiously incongruous bowl of fruit which has been placed on the bar. Whatever you may choose it matters little as I half suspect that they all can trace their origins back to the same industrial park in Leicestershire, or some such place, where they were brewed together with the same proximity as they are today served together.

But I digress. What brought me here was a search for the Huddersfield George's. As far as I can make out, the centre of Huddersfield had three Georges : the Old George Inn, the George Inn, and the George Hotel. Of the three, only the latter is still in business, and it is there that I am sitting.However, it seems that the building which originally housed the Old George is still in existence. Sort of. It has moved. It didn't accomplish this feat unaided, nor did it stagger to it's new location after a surfeit of pale ale on a Saturday night. When the railway finally made it to Huddersfield in 1847, the unfortunate Old George was a little in the way.  This was particularly vexing as the Old George had been rebuilt with some style less than sixty years earlier and the locals were quite proud of the building which now stood in the way of both progress and the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.  Therefore the good citizens of the borough - showing a zeal for conservation which would have put many of their descendants to shame - pulled it down, stone by stone, and moved it a few hundred yards to St Peters Street. The building is still there, housing a collection of shabby offices : a rather grand Victorian building which is now somewhat tired and emotional.  The old pub out of the way, they built their grand station, erected their smart new George Hotel, and provided glass after glass of fizzy lager for generations to come.

Just a shame that when they moved the Old George they took the real ale pumps with them.

9 comments:

  1. Ugh! Mass-brewed beer! It's why I don't drink stuff like Budweiser or Heineken or Coors (although Samuel Adams beers and ales are surprisingly good). It's too bad an old institution like that has sunken so low.

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  2. but inquiring minds would love to know which george was this majestic and historic hotel named after?

    i'll take a pint of the mysterious brew meself.

    rugby - now there's a full body commitment - as the punny bumbersticker says it takes leather.......

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  3. It is indeed a shame to have to write about a pub and not be able to get a good pint.

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  4. Sad about Old George. Really sad.

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  5. What a disappointment for you, Alan, faced with an array of awful ales.

    When we holidaying in Cornwall, I was pleasantly surprised by St Austell Brewery's 'Proper Job', although their HSD (Hicks Special Draught) still sets the standard. When I was working there, we called it High Speed Diesel!

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  6. I ditto John F's remark although I will take this time to point out that I think American IPAs are quite a bit stronger and hoppier than British IPAs even though the Brits "invented" the brew in order to ship it to their colonies. I say this because a good American IPA is what I always think when I think "good beer" So, are British IPAs less hoppy?

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  7. History trough a pint glass sounds good to me, but fizzy ale - very sad. I do love the northern architecture that the picture so epitomises; that wonderful solid gritstone. There was much of it Newcastle where I grew up, but more in in Yorkshire, Lancs and Derbyshire. My company has an area office in Bradford (much derided by the head office at folk at of all places, Swindon) and I'm always saying - but have you actually walked round Bradford centre; it has some magnificent buildings.

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  8. Rugby League Is The Best Team In The World [forget those sissys with their American Football hats & padded Shoulders!].And This Is Where It All Began!

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  9. Very nice, but the original George Inn was actually situated in Market Place, not where the railway now stands. It's move is indeed tied into the building of the railway and St Georges Square though, as it was moved when they constructed John William Street to connect the Market Square with the train station. Imagine it to be in the way of progressing toward what is now the pedestrian street of New Street.

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