by Paul Jennings

IN the latest in our series of articles by Paul Jennings, from his book, The Local: A History of the English Pubs, he takes a look back at the Airedale Inn.

"A licence was granted to Thomas Peel for the newly-built Airedale Inn in 1848, chiefly because of its stabling, according to the magistrates. It had an impressive location at the junction of North Wing and the road from Bradford towards Harrogate. On a clear day, of which there were not so many in once smoky Bradford, you could see far up Airedale, as indeed you can once again. This was in fact the second time of asking, the magistrates having refused to grant a licence the year before, despite a memorial that the neighbourhood needed it.

For this was a fast-developing district at the time, with new streets, such as the evocatively named King Charles and Cavalier Streets, houses, shops and pubs, like the Olive Branch, George, New Inn and Cambridge Hotel, along Otley Road. There too, on the right side going up the hill, was the East Ward Labour Club, founded in 1892 by a group of working men who used to drink in the Airedale.

The photograph shown here was taken in 1910, the year that Francis Catterick and his wife Sarah had taken the pub. Mr Frank Rowlands of Otley Road kindly let me copy it back in 1989 when I was researching the history of the area and in fact his grandmother is the woman in the middle of the doorway to the left. Who the other people are, unfortunately, is not certain. Perhaps that is Sarah to the right in the white blouse, and the children look about the right age to be their two: Lillian and George. And is that Frank himself in the centre?

The posters on the wall between them advertise that members’ tickets were now available for the Bradford Amateur FC, season 1910-11, and that the forthcoming final of the Priestley Cup would take place at Park Avenue between Great Horton and Undercliffe, which the latter went on to win by 118 runs.

The Cattericks were to remain at the Airedale until the summer of 1921 and on their departure were presented with a silver rose bowl on an ebony stand ‘as a token of esteem and respect by their numerous friends’.

The pub seems to have inspired affection. My dad served in the RAF during the war and was with a chap, he once remembered to me, who always talked about getting back to the Airedale when it was all over. Happily, he made it home and his wedding reception was held there.

Under the Cattericks it had been a free house, selling both Tetley and Hammonds beers, but eventually became a Tetley’s house. It was this brewery which built a new Airedale as part of the clearance and redevelopment of the area in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This was set a little further back than the original pub, on the site of Airedale Place, partly to allow room for a car park.

As I drive past there now, it is still there, as indeed is the modern Labour Club, in an Otley Road, however, strikingly different from the one its predecessor once served."