A local arts group is planning to breathe new life into an empty city centre pub by turning it into a creative hub.

The Brick Box is looking to re-open the Old Crown pub on Ivegate, turning it into an arts venue that will hold numerous events and music performances.

The Victorian pub is one of the oldest in Bradford, and was also used as a music hall, but was most recently a gaming arcade.

In its later years, the pub was infamous for its afternoon striptease sessions.

Although the arts venue will not be completed until next year, the group will be bringing Ivegate to life on October 13 with a “river of light” event.

‘The Brick Box is also taking up a temporary residency in the neighbouring Smith & Co pie shop and bar, running it as an arts cafe and bar with live events, food and drink from October 13.

Last year, the group took over the empty Marks & Spencer unit on Darley Street, turning it into a pop up arts space known as the Wild Woods.

There were several events held there that attracted thousands into the city centre.

The new use for the Crown will mean the grand building is opened up to the public for the first time in years, and will bring a new lease of life to Ivegate, one of Bradford’s oldest streets.

The Brick Box’s plans for the building could also include studio space for artists.

The group said: “’The Brick Box are excited to announce our plans to open a new arts venue. We’ll have a number of temporary events in the run up to Christmas and hope to have the finished venue launched fully next year.”

Work to fit out the new venue is expected to start early next year.

The group re-located to Bradford from London last year, and set up in a temporary base in a former cash for gold store further down Ivegate.

Miss Freeman said: “It will be a lot easier to do things in our own space.

“We’ll still be doing other projects around the country, but this will be our HQ.

“It will allow us to be more independent, and having a place like this means more people can come and get involved with what we’re doing.”

The building will be used for some pop up events while it is being refurbished, with Miss Freeman adding: “It will be like camping in the garden of a house you’re doing up.

“We want to work with other local businesses, and we think this can help support the local economy.”

Miss Barrett said: “It is bringing back some of the traditions of when the place used to be a music hall.

“The River of Light event will be the first chance a lot of people have to see the place properly.

“It will help draw people in to explore the rest of the city centre.”


The Old Crown Hotel dates back to the 19th century, and was built on the edge of a quarry between Ivegate and Millergate, before Sunbridge Road existed.

It was originally known as The Crown and Cushion. It was once owned by a woman known as Widow Varley, who paid rates of £15 5s in 1805.

The pub became infamous in the 1980s for its regular lunchtime strip shows.

In 1982, the then landlord was fined £750 for showing blue movies in the pub - one of the first people in the country to be fined under the Indecent Displays act. He had told the T&A that showing the movies attracted more customers than football.

In 1991, the pub was shut after police visited and found it was staging strip shows without a licence.

The pub was later bought and controversially turned into a bingo hall, before being turned into gaming arcade Raffles.

Raffles shut several years ago, and earlier this year plans to turn the building into a boutique hotel and restaurant were approved by Bradford Council, but never materialised, and the building was put on the market.