Memories of Calderdale

Pubs in Rishworth


Geoffrey Siddall

In the 1950s, when living on the border of Ripponden and Rishworth, I nightly walked my dog usually to a suitable Public House.

There were at that time two very similar pubs who did not like to sell beer!

The first was the Brown Cow on Godly Lane. This was kept by two elderly women [Henrietta Wells and Florrie Firth], I always assumed that one was the widow of the original licensee and had kept on the license when he died. The normal room, which I assumed was the tap room, was a narrow room and always had a good coal fire on the longer side. It was spotlessly clean, though very seldom with a customer.

They did not keep draught beer, probably because they never sold enough before it went bad. They stocked Whitaker's beers – Light Shire and Strong Shire – in pint bottles with screw caps. You could have a half pint but were never sure how long the bottle had been open! I seldom had more than two pint bottles. They were never keen on serving more, I suppose that they did not want to have any trouble.

I looked into the "Best Room" once. This should have been donated to a museum. Everything was clean and shining, from the horse hair sofas to the cast iron tables lamps (they had no electricity or gas). There had been new building on Godly Lane, all with electricity and gas. I believed that the Brown Cow's principle income was from out sales and the occasional funeral tea. The place closed shortly afterwards. It was a lesson in "keeping" a pub.

At the same time this was almost mirrored by the Royal Hotel at Rishworth. Only about ½ mile from the Brown Cow, the Royal was set on Oldham Road with a good position and almost next to Rishworth Public School.

This was also kept by two elderly women – Mary and Florence Crowther – who also did not keep draught beer or spirits and were loath to attract trade. Consequently, they were open all licensing hours with very few customers and existed on funeral teas. It had obviously been forgotten that there was a legal obligation to open during all licensing hours – customers or not – and this law applied even when making structural alterations, It was repealed during the 1970s after killing a customer or two. Normally the brewer's agreement insisted on opening even without customers.

Ultimately, they decided to sell and the place went up for auction. It was purchased by Alan Bracewell and Norman Somers who were well know in the Halifax amateur acting community. Norman Somers was a professional and was known for the voice of Larry the Lamb on the radio.

On the day of completion, having finished the signing, they had arranged for a joiner to remove matchboard partitions, to make a larger room, to arrange a temporary bar, connect barrels of beer etc, and were open for trade at lunch time. It was rumoured that they took more in that lunch time opening than the previous owners took in six months

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 10:26 / 30th May 2021 / 5115

Page Ref: M_11

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