>Central Keighley must be one of the few places to escape the decimation of its pubs. In recent years the town has permanently lost the Eastwood Tavern, The Masons Arms and The Market Arms – and that’s about it, although a number of pubs in outlying villages are said to be struggling and just lately The New Inn at Crossroads has become an ironmongers.
Several pubs have closed and reopened – one example is the Hope and Anchor freehouse on the outskirts of the centre, just round the corner from Timothy Taylor’s new site. I’ve only been in once, several years ago. It was like walking into an episode of the Likely Lads, a 1960s time capsule complete with redundant buttons to summon a waiter and tin ashtrays for defunct brewers like Whitakers of Halifax.
Whitakers – founded in 1848 – had the usual post-war trajectory of mergers and takeovers before having their own brewery (trademark – ‘Cock O’ The North’) demolished by Whitbread in 1969. Their ales became nothing more than a proprietory name on a pump, made elsewhere in Whitbread’s empire. They faded away sometime in the early 70s. A similar thing happened to fellow Halifaxoneans Websters – closed by S&N in 1996 – and whose beer is now brewed by John Smiths for the club trade. I always associate Websters with bleak, wind-blasted Calderdale villages where there wasn’t much more than one of their mid-Victorian pubs, a silent mill, a few houses and a dripping-damp Wesleyan chapel. Their Pennine Bitter had a few fans but to be fair, I don’t ever recall anyone saying they could murder a Websters.
This sign was found in the Hope and Anchor’s cellar during the refurbishment and fixed to the pub’s back wall where it was photographed by my mum and dad on a recent visit. “Pretty good. Irish and friendly” was their verdict. The pub that is, not the sign.