Book Review

(First published in 1985 in volume 2, pp. 81-82, of the third series of The Bradford Antiquary, the journal of the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society.)

Inns And Pubs Of Old Bradford

Paul Jennings. (Bradford, 1985). £1.20

Paul Jennings reminds us how inns once played a central role in the lives of communities. They provided accommodation, especially if they were coaching houses, and became places where all kinds of business was transacted, including meetings of Improvement Commissioners and turnpike trustees, coroners' inquests and magistrates' sessions, political rallies and auction sales. Of course inns were primarily drinking shops, and in industrial towns like Bradford drunkenness, vice and immorality were rife. Temperance societies undoubtedly did some good, but positive measures like popular education, improved housing, provision of theatres and recreational facilities, probably played a greater part in combating the evils of excessive drinking. Concern about working-class morals was shown by the number of reports and inquiries on the subject during the mid 19th century. Licensing Acts led to a reduction in the number of beer houses, whisht shops and dram shops, and when opening hours were restricted convictions for drunkenness began to decrease.

Much information is packed into these twenty-eight pages and the booklet contains two maps and photographs of inns with potted histories. Many of the original buildings have been pulled down, and those which remain have often undergone a great deal of alteration. The Talbot Inn, for example, was entirely rebuilt in 1878 and the old dog ('made of a log') was replaced by two stone ones, which were taken down from their perches when the inn closed. A year or two ago they made their way to Ripon and were last seen in the safe custody of an antique dealer.

The map which forms an end-piece to this booklet gives enthusiasts an opportunity to embark on a crawl covering thirty-six sites not too far from the city centre, although many of the pubs and the streets in which they were situated have disappeared. Whatever happened in these old beerhouses their names had a fine, romantic ring: Tichborne Arms, Chinese Temple, Tumbling Hill Tavern, Bishop Blaize and, one of the strangest, Yorkshire Divan.

The author has confined his researches to central Bradford. I hope it will not need Dutch courage to make him venture into the suburbs in search of material for further booklets like this one.


© 1985, The Bradford Antiquary