IN the latest of his recollections of old Bradford pubs, Paul Jennings - author of The Local: A History of The English Pub - looks at The Royal Standard on Manningham Lane.

"I have a copy of the Bradford Official Handbook from the mid-1950s which notes of Manningham Lane in the morning ‘a procession of gleaming aristocratic cars’, symbolic of the ‘prosperity and affluence’ which characterised this ‘go-ahead city’. A rather fine pub which graced this main route into the city, adjoining the Theatre Royal, was the Royal Standard.

It was built by John Thompson in 1867 as a public slipper baths, he already being the proprietor of the Peckover Baths and also a slate merchant and roofer. It also featured a dining room and had obtained too a licence to serve alcohol.

Something of its more upmarket status may be gleaned from a curious incident reported in the Bradford Observer in 1873, soon after it opened in fact. A waitress there called Sarah Milestone was employed in the smoke room to carry a box of matches to light the cigars of patrons and also to fill the match-holders on the tables. We know this workaday fact because she was charged with attempting to set the place on fire, charges, however, which were later dropped due to lack of evidence. Thompson died on Christmas Day 1875 (he is buried in Undercliffe Cemetery appropriately under a slate headstone), followed just ten days later by his wife, and his daughter then ran the pub with her husband, John Pickles. The family connection ceased soon after this and the pub was later acquired by Bradford brewers Wallers and ultimately then became a Tetley house.

I knew the Royal Standard in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I remember during the punk period seeing The Angelic Upstarts perform there in the packed music room. But by the early 80s it had become rather down-at-heel and the auction particulars of 1985 aptly described it as ‘being in need of refurbishment’, as may be seen in my photograph from this time. The particulars also noted how it was ‘a reminder of the magnificence of Victorian architecture’. This it certainly was, with its superb etched glasswork, mahogany bar fittings, fine brass foot rail on the bar itself, the fireplaces and a mosaic in the entrance lobby showing the pub’s name. Such features indeed still capture for me what a pub should look like.

But its fortunes never really seemed to revive and soon it caught fire, eventually to be demolished in 1991.

A much greater conflagration had already in 1979 engulfed the former Busby’s department store (then Debenhams) which stood on the opposite side of Manningham Lane to the Royal Standard. In addition to losses such as these, now of course Manningham Lane is cut in two at this point by a section of the inner ring road, whose construction necessitated the demolition of another pub - the Theatre Tavern. Both roads are now choked with traffic, but you would need to look pretty hard on Manningham Lane to see a procession of gleaming aristocratic cars.

(Thompson family details kindly given by Fred Scott)"