Let’s explore the home base.
I woke relatively early on the 9th after great night’s sleep and headed out for my last full day in West Yorkshire. I had decided that I had not really explored much of Halifax yet and I even had a vague plan if I could ever be said to have a plan but today I wanted to visit the local military museum and an art gallery. Yes, Fergy was going to actually get bit of culture for a change odd as that may sound. Aimless wandering is normally the order of the day but at least I had a vague notion of which direction to head on this not overly warm day although at least it was not raining.
But I don’t like art galleries!
Halifax has many old mills and associated buildings albeit that the textile industry has long since left town. Some of these buildings now stand disused and rather forlorn whilst others have been converted to residential, commercial or social use (museums, galleries and the like). I had seen literature advertising the Dean Clough complex and the art gallery there and decided to visit even though I am not generally overly interested in art. Truth be told, I was rather more looking forward to seeing the restored industrial architecture which I do like looking at.
Following the signs I walked up Dean Clough (which is the name of the road as well as the complex) and caught sight of a magnificently restored series of mill buildings which, like the Taj Mahal, didn’t seem too large at first but appeared to grow ever larger the closer you got. I know this is technically true of any
structure but that was the thought that came to my mind. I hope the image here does it credit although it is only of a small portion of the whole as it would take an aerial shot to get it all in.
Approaching the reception area I saw signs indicating a number of businesses were in the main building although the art gallery was also signed. I merely thought it was a multi-purpose building which isn’t so strange and went in. I noted the rather well-stocked gift shop adjacent and made a mental note to have a browse there on the way out. Looking beyond the gift shop I saw a fairly large gallery but it was regrettably empty as it was being set up for a forthcoming exhibition. No problem, that can happen anywhere so I thought I would just go and look at the other galleries and this is where it started to get strange.
If I was expecting the gallery on one or two floors and the commercial premises on others I was quickly to be disabused of that notion as the two functions are completely intertwined. There were certainly some formal galleries but the vast majority of the exhibits were displayed on the walls of what was obviously a functioning office block. Between the doors of ABC chartered accountants and XYZ marine insurers there would be a display of artworks. It felt quite odd at first but the few people I did meet who were obviously working there were all very friendly and I soon got used to the concept. I was slightly wary of accidentally wandering into some high-powered business meeting but it is all very well organised with signs on various doors politely requesting gallery visitors not to proceed any further.
Another slight problem is that the place is a complete rabbit warren and I was quickly completely disorientated. I have no doubt that I missed plenty of exhibits but I did enjoy those that I saw. I suppose there is a map available at reception but I had not thought to ask for one. The upshot of this complete loss of direction was that I eventually exited the building (after a few detours) by a door at entirely the other end to that which I had entered and so missed the gift shop but it was a fascinating journey on the way.
At one point I was quite convinced I had taken a wrong turn and inadvertently entered a storage area as there were dozens of canvasses literally everywhere propped up against the walls in addition to the ones displayed. I wandered on to the end of the corridor where a sign declaring Doug Binder Studio explained everything as I had previously discovered that Mr. Binder was the artist in residence there. I glimpsed through a window to see him hard at work on a fairly large canvas and adding to his obviously prodigious output. On the door was the most wonderful sign which said, “Welcome, painter at work, please disturb, just knock and come in” which genuinely raised a smile. I didn’t have the nerve to go in as I would have made a complete fool of myself in any conversation about art and so I crept away as quietly as I could. Whilst researching this piece I have found out that he is a very important British artist sometimes referred to as Britain’s master of colour and I slightly regret my reticence now as it would have been great to meet him especially as I did like his work.
In the way of these things I got to thinking how wonderful the concept was of having an artist in residence as I have heard of the concept before as well as poet in residence, musician in residence and what have you. My mind took off on one of it’s frequent tangents and I wondered what sort of “in residence” I could possibly be. I can’t draw two straight lines, I am not much of a poet and merely an average pub musician and so I thought I might be a travel writer in residence until I though it through and dismissed the concept as a total oxymoron. Back to the gallery!
After my ludicrous travel writer in residence reverie I came to an absolutely superb photographic exhibition of monochrome prints of various local scenes, predominantly moorland and upland and presented by a photographer whose name I can lamentably not remember now. Photography is probably my favourite artistic medium and these were superb as I think that monochrome is often far more evocative than colour. The fact that the subject matter was local is echoed throughout the entire gallery with many of the artists featured being local or having some connection to the area and I do like that as I think it lent them a relevance. For me it is much the same argument as the food miles issue and I would much rather eat produce from 10 miles down the road than the far side of the world. Perhaps I am just overthinking the whole artistic process here, it is merely a personal view.
The absolute pinnacle for me, though, was something that some may not describe as art at all but merely adults playing with children’s toys, in this case Lego building bricks and a considerable number of them to boot. Again echoing the theme of local subject matter it is a 1:40 scale model in Lego of the very building in which it stands. The reason it is this scale is that the smallest appropriate windows Lego make are a certain size and everything else has to be in proportion. It is the work of Michael LeCount and Tony Priestman and was still a work in progress although it is utterly jaw-dropping as it currently stands (apparently pretty near completion). It will eventually be 35 feet long and with a 12 feet high chimney and with only a minimal amount of glue used in the construction. Whether art or not it is a simply gargantuan project and hugely impressive. My only concern is how they are ever going to get it out of the pretty small door to the display room as and when they may want to move it. Apart from the many other excellent exhibitions it is worth visiting the Gallery just for this in my opinion. I shall let the images speak for themselves.
I stated earlier on that I am not overly keen on art galleries and would generally sooner spend time in a museum but for the various reasons outlined above I really did enjoy my time here and I do recommend it.
Leaving the gallery it was onward and every upward in the direction I knew the Museum was. They do like a bit of a hill in these parts which I suppose is understandable since the town is built on a river valley. I paused briefly to take the image above as it is so typical of the old “back to back” housing common in this area. I swear I could almost hear the brass band playing in my head.
A little magic in an unlikely place.
The stiff walk up the rather steep Haley Hill on a pleasant autumnal day had not only invigorated me but also worked up a bit of a thirst. My late and much-missed Mother once remarked, and not without reason, that I was born thirsty and regular readers will understand that I do like to spend time in pubs which also form a large proportion of my blog material. I saw the sign for the Museum and the Flying Dutchman pub simultaneously. Ah, decisions, decisions. Undoubtedly the reader is ahead of me now and my thirst for a pint outweighed my thirst for historical military knowledge although it was a close-run thing.
The pub looked tidy and well-maintained from the outside and a step through the door confirmed the interior to be the same. I glanced to the left to see two gents having a game of pool on what looked like a decent table, nodded a greeting and entered the main bar where a young lady was sitting at a table doing some paperwork and with an evidently aged dog at her feet. She greeted me in a very friendly manner and headed behind the bar to enquire what I wanted. A pint of cider was called for and was poured quickly with a quick mouthful proving it to be well-kept. I should mention that the price was very reasonable although this may just be because I am used to London prices which are ruinous. How they compare locally I am not quite sure.
Apart from the dramatis personae already mentioned (if a dog constitutes part of personae, I am not sure) I was alone in the place and so turned my attention to a look round and then divided my attention between the sport being shown on the large screen TV and the new book I had just acquired and which I was fairly well devouring. The pub was spotless if unremarkable in terms of decor but I immediately felt at home there. A few posters alluded to family themed events and it was very obvious that this was a local’s pub as realistically I don’t suppose they get much passing trade in what is effectively the suburb of Boothtown. Eventually the dog wandered over (albeit somewhat slowly) for a fuss and then seemed to take up residence beside me. That was grand, I like dogs even if I cannot have one of my own.
After a while my nicotine levels were approaching the critical (yes, I know smoking is bad for me and no, I do not recommend it to anyone who has not started) and I enquired of the young lady if there was a smoking area out the back or if I had to stand in the street like a naughty schoolboy. She indicated a back door just past the (again spotlessly clean) gents toilets and I went out to find myself in a fairly sizeable and well-presented beer garden. The two pool playing gents were already seated with one of them apparently a smoker and his mate a non-smoker who was just keeping him company. I enquired if I could join them and was cordially invited so to do.
This is where the magic started. No, they didn’t start doing card tricks or pulling rabbits from hats but after the initial civilities we got to talking. It transpired that both men were retired from the textile manufacturing trade which was once the lifeblood of Halifax and much of this area. They were reminiscing about people they had worked with, things that had happened in various mills and so on and it was, frankly, fascinating. They patiently explained my probably idiotic questions about the whole process of commercial weaving and I would readily have paid money to attend a lecture like this at a Museum or whatever as it was completely fascinating.
It transpired that one of the guys had been all over the world plying his trade when it had collapsed locally and, amongst the many more exotic places he had been (China springs to mind) he informed me that he had also worked in my home country of Northern Ireland which led to some further conversation. Very quickly my excellent book was forgotten and I was being immersed in a living history lesson.
I mention living history for a reason because I love it. Certainly museums are of great value in their place and especially from periods where no-one now survives but for more recent history it is so wonderful to hear it first hand from people who were actually there. As all this was going on I could not stop comparing the experience to one I had had the previous year in Canada when I had gone to the wonderful Mining Museum in Glace Bay and been shown round a fairly recently decommissioned undersea coalmine by a lovely guy called Wishie Donovan who had actually worked there for many years. This was similar although different insofar as it was not being presented in a formal way, it was just two old guys talking about days, industry and, sadly, people all now long gone. I was mesmerised.
This is the magic of which I speak, the magic of meeting different people and interacting and learning from them. I do not wish this to sound like some sort of evangelical rant on what is effectively a blog entry about an out of the way pub but travellers will hopefully understand what I mean. I eventually and somewhat regretfully left my new-found friends, went back inside and finished the remains of my pint, bid a fond au revoir to both barmaid and dog and headed off to the museum before it closed.
I think it is a mark of the Flying Dutchman that it does not even appear to have a website which is almost unheard of in the UK nowadays for a pub. It apparently has a presence on the appalling facebook but there is absolutely nothing on it and I suppose this exemplifies how this wonderful pub works. Generally, if you need to know where it is, you will know as you will live within a mile of it. Otherwise I hope I have, in some very small way, managed to alert people to the presence of this very welcoming establishment and can do no more than to recommend it highly.
All hail the Duke of Boots.
After a slightly longer interlude than I had intended in the nearby Flying Dutchman pub I eventually made my way to the Bankfield Musem which was situated up a curving roadway and appeared on first sight to have been some grand old house. This impression was to be confirmed whilst researching this piece as it transpires that the building was the home of local mill owner, philanthropist and MP Colonel Edward Akroyd for whom the park surrounding the museum is named.
Interestingly, it has been a museum for over 100 years having been opened in 1887. On entering I had noticed a sign stating that the place closed at 1600 that day which somewhat surprised me as I thought that industry standard for museums in the UK was 1700 if not later. Full details of opening times are provided later but I knew this was going to be a bit of a rush! A walk up a very grand staircase led me to the foyer of the museum.
Whilst I am certainly interested in the history of Halifax and the surrounding area of Calderdale my predominant interest was as stated and I asked the very helpful young man where the Museum of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment may be found as that is what I had come for. He directed me and I found it easily. If you were to imagine everything you associate with the Duke of Wellington, it was all there in the first room, the bicorn hat, frock coat and, of course, the eponymous riding boots. There was a huge amount of other artefacts as well (including the pot his cook allegedly made his porridge in on the morning of the Battle of Waterloo) but those mentioned are the ones that immediately caught my eye.
When I had had my fill of Wellingtonalia (I just made that word up) I carried on and the museum then leads you through the entire history of the Regiment from being raised in 1702 through it’s many campaigns and right up to the present day where, due to defence cuts, it has now been amalgamated several times and now forms part of the Yorkshire Regiment along with the Prince of Wales Own and the Green Howards. The campaigns where the Regiment distinguished itself include the American Revolution, Flanders, India, Waterloo and the Crimea as well as both World Wars and Korea more recently.
As I mentioned, time was rather against me and I didn’t get a chance to see the rest of the museum although I certainly intend to return if I am back in Halifax. Should the reader wish to visit, here are the logistics.
The Museum is closed Sunday and Monday (except Bank Holiday Mondays) and open Tuesday – Saturday 1000 – 1600. Due to the nature of the building there is wheelchair access to the ground floor only and there are handling boxes for visually impaired visitors available. Refreshment is provided by means of a coffee machine Last admission is 30 minutes before closing and admission is free although donations are obviously very welcome.
It is pronounced how?
Well, that was my two objectives for the day achieved so what do do next. Obviously it was pub time and I was tempted to head back to the Flying Dutchman but I decided on another plan and so I found myself in the charming little village of Mytholmroyd by utilising my very handy bus rover pass which allowed me to jump on and off local buses at will.
There isn’t really a lot of the village so it does not mean much to say I alighted near the middle of it but I did. Fortuitously the bus stop was very close to the Dusty Miller pub / Coiners restaurant which is all the one premises and also incorporates accommodation from single rooms all the way up to a family room for five. Well, a half hour bus ride had made me thirsty and so I sallied in for a pint.
Another pleasant surprise.
My initial impression was that it was one of those old-fashioned country pubs that had been refurbished relatively recently and this was confirmed to me later on. Sometimes this can lead to a loss of the original character of the place but I have to say that it was very sympathetically done here. I had seen the notices for the restaurant and this coupled with the quite sumptuous appearance gave me a moment of disquiet as I was looking my usual fairly unkempt self and certainly not dressed up for a night on the town. No problem at all as a very pleasant lady greeted me with typical Yorkshire hospitality and promptly served up a pint of well-kept cider.
Being a midweek early evening in September the place was fairly quiet with the other clients being a couple of guys at the bar and a couple sitting at one of the tables. This did look a bit sparse as it really is a fairly large establishment. In the way of these things a conversation was soon struck up at the bar and the chaps there proved to be very sociable. Ordinarily, I would just go for a look round a new premises (as much for purposes of writing reviews like this as out of natural curiosity) but for some reason I asked the barmaid if it would be OK to do so and she encouraged me to check out whatever I wanted. I needed no further encouragement.
First port of call was the fairly sizeable Coiners restaurant where I checked out the menu which seems to be what I would call modern British and where they have separate offerings for midweek lunch, Saturday Lunch, Saturday evening etc. The Sunday carvery (served from midday) looked particularly good value. They make a point of locally sourcing as much of their produce as they can which is always a big plus with me.
A framed print on the wall explained the name of the restaurant which, I must confess, had been puzzling me slightly. Mytholmroyd, or more specifically Cragg Vale which is an area within the village, was home in the late 18th century to a criminal gang called the Cragg Coiners or Cragg Vale Coiners. If the term coiners means nothing to you, allow me to explain.
At the time mentioned, a number of local men took to the crime of coining (a practice long pre-dating this story) whereby genuine gold coins were obtained from local publicans and “shaved” of a very small proportion of the gold before the edges were re-milled. The gold so harvested was kept, smelted and then made into new coins before being passed back into circulation by the self-same publicans. It was said that so industrious were their activities that they threatened to destabilise or even destroy the currency of the nation and therefore an Excise man called William Dighton was appointed to bring them to justice.
The leader of this gang was a man known as “King David” Hartley who ended up being hanged publicly at York in 1770 having been arrested by Dighton. Hartley’s brother Isaac put a bounty on Dighton’s head and the murder was supposedly planned in this very pub. The sum for the “hit” was set at £100 which was truly a King’s Ransom in those days. It was very interesting to think I was sitting in the very bar where all this had taken place. Isaac was never tried due to lack of evidence and lived to the then extremely old age of 78 in this village, dying in 1815 and being buried in the plot next to his hanged brother. If the reader is interested, there is a very good article here. It is well worth a read.
Having finished my wander round the place I returned to the bar, had another pint and took myself off in search of other things to see and pints to drink. Again, as had happened the day before in nearby Hebden Bridge in the Old Gate pub, I had misjudged the place totally on first appearance. I was thinking that it would be too posh for me (I do not do posh at all) and yet again I had had my misconceptions firmly kicked into touch. Certainly the Dusty Miller is upmarket and plush enough to satisfy the most discerning pubgoer whilst still retaining the ability to make a somewhat windswept and interesting character like myself feel entirely comfortable.
Lest we forget.
I thought I would wander a bit further round the village although it did not take long. As is my wont, I stopped at the immaculately tended war memorial to pay my respects and then wandered a bit further so let me tell you a little about this quaintly named village.
For those with an interest in the subject I would suggest the following websites. They are respectively the listings of Commonwealth War Graves and UK War Memorials as listed by the Imperial War Museum.
The war memorial in Mytholmroyd stands in a beautifully tended gardens on the A646 Burnley Road just opposite the junction with the B6138. It is topped by a fairly generically uniformed soldier of World War One vintage resting on his rifle. A scroll indicates that it is dedicated to the men of the area who gave their lives in that war and a small simple brass plaque beneath it remembers those who died in World War 2. It was sculpted by H.S. Davies and dedicated in 1922 but if you look closely you will see that the head is not the original as it was replaced during restoration work in 2009. Similarly the rifle is not original and is actually fibreglass. This needed replacing as some thug had stolen the original. Stealing part of a war memorial, I can think of few things more despicable.
Should the reader need any further information, here are the relevant catalogue references. War Memorials Trust reference WM1307 UK National Inventory of War Memorials: 2610
Mytholmroyd is a small and attractive village in Calderdale about seven miles West of Halifax and just over a mile East of Hebden Bridge and the very first thing the traveller needs to know is how to pronounce it! I had been doing it completely wrong until I was politely corrected by a local and for those of you that understand the odd notion of phonetics or whatever it is called, here it is pronounced MYTHEM-ROYD/ˌmaɪðəmˈrɔɪd/ (always assuming this cut and paste makes it intact to the blog). Apparently it means a clearing where two rivers meet if that helps. The locals avoid pronounciation difficulties by just referring to it as Royd.
Myhtolmroyd is a village of about four and a half thousand souls and traces it’s history back to at least the 14th century although it is probably best for the coiners I wrote about above. A more recent and certainly more respectable son of Mytholmroyd was the late Poet Laureate Ted Hughes.
This is a very pleasant little village and easily accessible by bus or train from major local centres like Halifax, Burnley and Rochdale and is certainly worth a visit, not least for the next place I discovered.
Proper grub in a proper pub.
To be honest, I had not planned on eating in the village that evening as I had vaguely set my sights on getting back to Halifax and one of the numerous excellent Asian restaurants that city has to offer but things were to change. One way or another I found myself in the excellent Shoulder of Mutton pub and it could not have proved to be a better choice.
From the exterior it is a fairly typical English country pub, which suits me nicely. Walking inside I found an establishment that had made a few concessions to modernity but otherwise was what it was, a Yorkshire country village boozer. I was served a pint of well-kept cider by a very friendly young lady and sat myself down opposite a most wonderful fireplace (pictured) which I hesitate to describe as Art Noeveau or Art Deco as I simply do not have the knowledge. I know only that it was a hugely decorative piece and obviously used in winter for it’s original purpose. That was a good start.
On top of this delight were a number of books for sale in aid of the local hospice which not only is a nice touch but also demonstrated the very obvious local focus of the pub which is exactly what I think the pub should be, the centre of the local community. I devour books and can never have enough lying about and so I bought myself one to pass the time. It was a choice between reading and watching Sky News (a UK satellite channel) with the sound turned down on the large screen. Other attractions include occasional weekend live music.
My next piece of reading material was the menu on the table which was more out of interest than an intention to eat, as explained. During this perusal I was approached by a delightful lady who identified herself as the landlady and had obviously picked me out as not being a regular whereupon we had a most charming conversation which made me feel even more welcome and comfortable than I already was. She enquired if I was dining and it seemed almost churlish to refuse so I set about a more serious appraisal of the fare on offer.
The menu here was not overly extensive and it is not flash, there is no mention of jus, reductions, veloute and the like but rather good old-fashioned pub grub of the bangers and mash, fish and chips, pie and chips variety although there are veggie options for the non-carnivores and non-gluten options for those for which this may pose a problem. A speciality of the house seems to be giant Yorkshire puddings with a variety of fillings although in the end I plumped for the Boozy Beef, a beef and Guinness stew served with seasonal veg and mash. Obviously, being Yorkshire, the obligatory Yorkshire pudding was included as, equally obviously, was the gravy. I don’t mean the gravy the beef was cooked in but additional ladlesful of the stuff as the image testifies. Ordinarily, I ask for meals without gravy as I consider it the work of the Devil but this was Yorkshire and they like it up there so I held my tongue. I thought I would have been publicly hanged or whipped through the streets of Mytholmroyd on a cart tail as a heretic otherwise!
Whilst awaiting the arrival of my meal I had a bit of a look at the cooking set-up. They had wheeled some sort of mobile hot plate affair out into the further portion of the bar to where I was sitting which appeared to be for the purpose of keeping the plates warm etc. I also got a few glimpses into a spotless kitchen where nothing less than a small army of ladies were scurrying about getting things together. Not a man to be seen and I will swear there are professional kitchens in London with less of a brigade. In the way of my slightly odd thoughts it occurred to me that it somewhat akin to attending a charity lunch organised by the Women’s Institute.
My meal promptly arrived and it was nothing short of brilliant. The beef was falling to pieces and with a perfectly seasoned sauce with just enough of a hint of the beer in it. The seasonal veg turned out to be red cabbage (a favourite of mine anyway) cooked perfectly and not boiled into submission along with peas and a very well-made mash. The Yorkshire pudding was so light and tasty as you would expect here as it is a matter of regional pride who makes the best. I have to say that I even enjoyed the gravy which was lovely and rich. I may have to rethink my culinary stance on that particular subject if it is always as good as this.
Given the amount of staff apparently present (maybe they were just moving around a lot) I am surprised they can keep the costs as reasonable as they do with my meal coming in at a shade under £7 (2015 price)which was really nothing in terms of eating out then and well worth every penny. A quick look at the menu on the attached website whilst editing this in December 2018 shows there has been a slight change of policy with prices naturally having gone up and some fairly exotic items on the menu. This strikes me as being pity but I suppose they have to make a living. I shall remember it fondly as it was.
I am fully aware that this may seem like a bit of a War and Peace about a very decent meal and a few pints in a pub in a West Yorkshire village but I really do believe that a place like this merits the same attention in reviewing as does a £150 a plate tasting menu in a Mayfair Michelin starred restaurant.
Fully sated and after another quick pint, it was time to jump on my bus and head back the short distance to Halifax. The Shoulder of Mutton is just about everything I would want from an establishment like this but do be aware of the logistics. This was not a gastropub then (thankfully) and has somewhat limited food serving times which the locals all seem to know. Food was served 12 to 2 and 5.30 to 7.30 and all day Sunday 12 to 7pm (there is a slightly separate menu then) but that has also changed and now food is served throughout the day until 2000. Back on the bus then and I was heading for Halifax, a mere few miles distant but obviously it did not end up quite like that!
Friendly by name………….
As you know by now my travels are entirely unstructured (as various travel companions will attest and which drives some of them mad) and as long as I have a notion of how I am going to “return to base” i.e. where I am laying my head that night then I will just ramble as the mood takes me. In truth, sometimes I do not even have a place to lay my head planned and this can cause even further consternation for others. It is just the way I am and thus it was that I jumped off the bus in the utterly delightfully named village? / suburb? of Friendly. Really, that is the name. It would be equally correctly described as being a suburb of Sowerby Bridge or a suburb of Halifax, as either one would be appropriate. I choose to call it Sowerby Bridge as that is the official postal address.
I had noticed the bus passing a pub called the White Horse and passing a pub is somewhat anathema to me so I alighted at the next stop and wandered back. I genuinely only had the vaguest idea where I was but knew I could make it home as I checked the timetables when I got off. Into the White Horse then and the very first thing that struck me was that it was empty with only a very few people there present save for the couple that apparently run the place. A well-kept pint was served up quickly and with a few friendly enquiries as to who I was as I suspect they do not get much passing trade here.
The couple of locals finished their drinks and headed off as did the owners / staff behind the bar who had disappeared out a rear door to what was to prove to be the smoking area out the back (we have a smoking ban in public places in the UK which has cost thousands of jobs and contributed to the closure of a large amount of pubs). I was completely alone in the bar and took the opportunity for a bit of a look round what was a very tidy and welcoming place. I saw a pool table in the back bar along with the obligatory fruit machine (automated gambling device) and all looked fine. Nature having taken it’s toll I visited the Gents facilities and they were in equally good order.
After that I wandered out the back to join them to satiate my nicotine addiction and they were delightful, it really was a very relaxed scene and they apparently had no qualms about previously leaving me alone in their bar, I liked that. Before any over-zealous official picks up on this and tries to be bothersome, I should emphasise that they could see into the main bar area through the back window, I would not like to cause trouble for these lovely people.
Signs about the place indicated that this was quiz night and the evening was wearing on a little with no sign of any punters at all and so I enquired about the pub quiz. I was cordially informed that it would take place and that I would be most welcome. They would find me a team to latch onto (although I suspect that would have been more of a hindrance than a help!) and also that the quiz afficionados would be there shortly as they were all presently in the local Bowling Club! It appears the good denizens of Friendly (I still cannot get my head round that brilliant name) regulate their social activities fairly rigidly and that really only added to the charm of the place.
Yet another pub highly recommended for a taste of proper Yorkshire hospitality but I knew I really should be getting back as I always wary of relying on the very last bus or train so I said my adieus and back to the bus stop. There were no other distractions on the way and I managed to make it to Halifax, well to the outskirts anyway. I knew the bus went all the way to the bus station literally cross the road from my digs but I had looked round there and so I alighted again in a part of town I had never seen.
Things start to unwind.
Close by the bus stop was the Feathers pub so that was that sorted then.
Although I didn’t know it at the time I was in an area of Halifax called Kings Cross and it seem to be very well-endowed with purveyors of liquid refreshment. I had spotted the Feathers from the bus on the outbound journey and so managed to alight at the correct stop and in I went. The Feathers is a fairly large one-roomed bar with a reasonable crowd for the day and time of evening (it was not a weekend). It was obvious that this was very much a locals place as, without being derogatory to this part of town in any way, I suspect it is not really an area visitors will generally find themselves and that suits me fine.
A brief conversation with the member of staff on duty allowed enough time for me to be presented with an obviously well-kept pint which went down so nicely I decided to have another. Whilst imbibing I had an opportunity to have a quick look around and noticed a fairly typical sports theme in the bar with the large screen TV and the dart board both prominent.
The Feathers is not remarkable at all but is certainly a perfectly pleasant and friendly place for a drink if you are in the area and it wasn’t over yet as I was on a mission now!
Reluctantly leaving the Feathers I went in search of another watering hole and had only gone a very short distance when I spotted a fairly narrow although well lit alleyway which had a sign at the end which was obviously for a pub called the Oddy’s. I should explain that Oddy’s is a contraction of Oddfellows which was a mutual assistance group more prevalent in days past but still in existence today I believe. I should also add that this very much the back way into the pub and there is a much more usual frontage at the other side. A small alleyway after dark in a place I have never been and know nothing about that leads to a pub? Red rag to a bull so off I went. I should add that the alley (indeed the entire area) was not in the slightest intimidating lest I give the wrong impression.
Having taken the obligatory image (attached) I gained the sanctuary of the bar which was, frankly, not exactly what I expected as it was lot more modern than the exterior of the building may have suggested. Nothing wrong with that as it was very clean and tidy and whilst researching this review I discovered that it had been completely refurbished in September 2014, they had done a nice job.
Being a midweek night it was not that busy but there were a few guys in watching the sport on the large screen TV screens. A pint of cider was quickly dispensed by a friendly member of staff and it turned out to be in good nick. I must say that in my whole trip to West Yorkshire I didn’t have a pint that was not in tip-top condition and I did have one or two. I suppose that given the very precarious state of the British pub trade for various reasons it is incumbent on publicans to serve decent drink or else they will go under as customers go elsewhere, basic economics really.
Logistically, they promote themselves as dog friendly and have wifi although I did not avail myself of either service so cannot comment. Although I was still completely full I noticed that they do a range of food here at extremely reasonable prices if you fancy a bite. There is not much more to say about the Oddy’s really and it is a place I suspect most travellers will not find as it is a little bit off the main drag but I found it very tidy, friendly and not a bad place at all for a drink. Well worth a visit.
You would think it was time for home now and you would probably be right but one more for the road as they say which led me to the William IV, again not far away. I did mention that this place is teeming with pubs. These three pubs are no more than 200 yards apart, if that! In truth I was a bit hors de combat at this point and the only reason I know I was in the William IV was because I took an image of the exterior sign at 2217 hours. I must have got the bus again for the last leg as I took an image of that as well at a very advanced hour. I obviously made it home OK as I woke up alone in my own bed the next morning and had survived apparently without mishap.
I head back to London in the next instalment so stay tuned and spread the word.