Tuesday, November 01, 2011

British Pub Week : A Pint With Branwell


It is British Pub Week this week and I am doing my little bit to help by visiting as many pubs as possible. Yesterday it was the turn of the Old Cock Hotel in Halifax to receive a visit. The building has existed for some 420 years and I have been around for sixty-odd of those, but I have to confess that yesterday was the first time I have set foot in what is one of Halifax's most ancient inns (so many pubs, so little time!). It was originally built in the 1580s as a private house by William Saville of Copley but 100 years later it was already listed as an inn. Situated in the centre of the town it has always been a popular meeting point for local organisations and societies : the Halifax Harmonic Society met here and the Halifax Building Society came into being after a meeting in the first floor Oak Room. On a more dubious note, David Hartley - the leader of the eighteenth century Cragg Vale criminal gang of counterfeiters - was arrested whilst enjoying a pint in the Old Cock and soon afterwards put to death at Tyburn in York. Like any half-decent West Yorkshire pub, the Old Cock also has a Branwell Bronte story : in the 1840s he ran up such large bills at the Old Cock that the landlord was forced to write to his father in Haworth demanding payment.

I sat in the quiet lunchtime bar, enjoying a pint of Timothy Taylor and looking around at the gaudy Halloween decorations on display. The headless corpses and ghostly apparitions had been bought in bulk from the local  Fancy Dress shop. They need not have bothered - there was history and terror enough leeching out of the very fabric of the building. I had a chat with Branwell, drunk up and left, making sure that I had paid for my pint. I don't want any letters of complaint being sent, nor do I want to visit Tyburn Hill.

21 comments:

  1. Yeah, you definitely want to avoid Tyburn Hill! I like the look of the outside of the building. Did you get any shots inside? Or was there too much Halloween clutter for a decent view?

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  2. Roy : Unless you go upstairs to the Oak Room - which wasn't open when I was in - it is fairly ordinary inside.

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  3. It's annoying one can no longer zoom in on the picture to inspect the detail, as that's where the devil is...

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  4. CB : When you get to the Lightbox view you will find a link at the bottom left which says "show original". Click on that and you get the old approach to images when you can use the magnifier to enlarge.

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  5. You can’t blame the pubs and clubs for cashing in I suppose, but as you say there must have been enough mystery and history without all that Halloween stuff.

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  6. This place is old and does make you wonder as you think of all the past participants sat around the tables, what was being said. It is a great photo and great background of an older than antique establishment.

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  7. Why do they do that in pubs, as you say, they are enough in themselves. Fantastic outside today, 20C down here.

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  8. Oh, my! Branwell Bronte again???

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  9. Silver Fox : What do you think we were talking about but the high time we had at the ball!

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  10. Love this post. A bit of history and Halloween. It's fun for me to learn of the tales of the notorious on your side of the pond. Always good fun. Great photo. You do know how to wring the most out of life.

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  11. I can see you now, with a noose around your neck at Tyburn, caught for stealing beer......Good Post, even better photo!

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  12. Wonderful post! Re Branwell, in Douglas Adams' posthumous THE SALMON OF DOUBT he mentions that Branwell B. died standing up, just to see if it could be done. If you return for another pint, I wish you'd ask BB about that.

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  13. Vicki : Funny you should mention that. In fact he was stood up leaning against the bar and he didn't say all that much ... you don't think he had passed on do you?

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  14. Such a sad story about Branwell, but I suppose that all pubs have stories like this about lesser known people who have ruined their lives. I'd like to see it. Has it been renovated or have they kept it really old fashioned? It's nice to think you are doing your bit for British Pub Week! :) I have never found a decent pub around where we live, I don't think they have many in our part of London

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  15. Pub week, eh. Didn't know that. And Timothy Taylor too.

    Find it hard to get out to the pub vey often , but I have taken to home brewing this year - and very good too if you buy good ingredients and do it properly.

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  16. in 2012 f, i and our two best friends are planning a holiday to your side of the pond in october - is british pub week always at this time of year? if so, we may wish to take that into account when planning our holiday!!!

    speaking of holiday...thanks for the kind words regarding the photos from my recent wander.

    i have lots of reading to catch up on nowhere.... just getting started and will have to come back and settle back with a pint and carry on with the pleasure when i have a nice block of evening time!

    cheers!

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  17. Smashing looking pub, serves Tim Taylor's too! Can't be bad.

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  18. I love old English pubs, it's been ages since I patronised such establishments as 'Speed The Plough' or "Tommy Ducks" (where I think I donated a pair of knickers for them to pin on the ceiling. Wonder if they're still there!) Yes they were unworn and laundered!

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  19. I'd love to visit that pub. It looks very inviting from the outside... not sure about ghosties and goolies though.

    Amazing how many different kinds of dedicated weeks there are... British Pub Week and Sausage Week to name but two.... grins. I opted to prepare sausage and mash rather than go drinking. Isn't that good of me?

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  20. the surveillance camera, vinyl banner and 6 different signs lined up in front take away some of its charm, but I'm glad you shared with us your trip at the Old Cock.

    what other stories could be told?
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  21. Fascinating - I was looking at David Hartley's grave in Heptonstall on my blog in September. So that's where they caught him!

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