Wednesday, May 29, 2013

In Search Of A Sepia Pint

There are few things I like better than a good challenge. Who can forget the joy I felt when I started my expedition to discover the source of the River Calder back in 2009 (I would provide a link to the post, but I have forgotten where it is), or my delight at trying to photographs all the lamp-posts in Fixby. Such challenges give a meaning to life, main-line some adrenaline into the prosaic circulation of existence. So it is with considerable pleasure that I announce a new challenge, which has the working title, "In Search Of A Sepia Pint"

The start of my quest was reading, by chance, a stray sentence in a local history pamphlet. It relates to my local town, Brighouse :
"There were 67 licensed premises in the Borough in 1899 and Brighouse was said to be the most drunken town in the West Riding except Wakefield"
I was surprised by the numbers : even its' greatest fans would be pushed to describe Brighouse as anything other than a small town, and 67 public houses would seem generous to even a thirsty man. My first thought was to check how many of the 67 were still open, but that sounded like a depressing odyssey. A more fascinating challenge would be to trace all those 67 pubs, inns, taverns and beerhouses, and discover what had become of them.

My first task was to produce a definitive list of the 67 and that gave rise to my first discovery. It depends, of course, on how you precisely define Brighouse, but even using a conservative definition, I came up with a list of 116 pubs that, at one time or another, had existed in Brighouse and its surrounding district. It was a little like setting out to climb a hill and getting off the bus at the wrong stop to discover you are at the foot of Mount Everest. The master list itself, is a fascinating document. There you will find six horses (one with a jockey); three ships, three suns; three Prince Alberts; two oak trees (one of them is Royal); a couple of Dukes (one of York and one of Edinburgh); two hares; two hounds; a partridge; but sadly not a pear tree.

I invite you to accompany me on my journey of discovery. If we come across a pub that is still open we will call in for a pint, if it is closed we will ruminate on what it once was. We will use them as signposts to life as it used to be, curiosities that might still amuse, or speculations as to what might have been. It might take us some time before we manage to get around them all, but I have few things better to do. 



  1. I just bought my bus ticket, I'll join you for the 'ride'>

    1. You would be most welcome John, and I have a feeling that we will have some fascinating chats when we find the occasional pub with a bar still open and a fire still lit.

  2. Don't take Amy, she's still on a long walk through the States.

  3. This will be a great trip; looking forward to looking.

  4. There's nothing better than a good search. If there's mystery or scandal so much the better.

  5. Ready set could be a thirsty journey:)

  6. Anonymous7:07 PM

    Ahoy Alan. Sorry I can't help much with the Brighouse investigation, but the vast number of Pubs may not be so surprising. You recall our old house in Old Mill Valley - there were at least four pubs in that sparsely populated valley the C19. I wonder if the large number of pubs was due to the lack of clean water or in deed pepsi max or Evian.
    Also I noticed a serious omission form your intro profile, past lecturer bus conductor, - sailor and mountaineer were missing. Cheers Mark.

  7. There must be lots of stories around those pubs!

  8. Happy to see you Alan! cheers!!

  9. This makes me think of many ghost towns I've visited in the western United States. There were always more saloons than any other business. I think the cribs for the prostitutes came in second. I wouldn't suggest you do a search for those.


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