BRADFORD has long mourned the loss of many of its pubs.

Some are serving a new purpose while images and memories are the only reminders of some of the city’s watering holes which, at one time, dominated most of its streets.

Suddenly these places for entertaining and socialising down the generations were struggling to compete with the availability of bargain booze from other outlets.

Even the lure of watching sport on the big screen in the local faded when wide screen TV viewing was introduced into most homes.

Many would say the smoking ban made an impact too. Certainly social changes, the technology we have at our fingertips has probably played a part as it has given people an excuse to stay in the comfort of their own home where they can catch up with friends without leaving their front door.

Back in 2014 the T&A reported that in Bradford alone it was estimated that 50 pubs had closed their doors over the past five years.

Contrary to being put off the trade, William Wagstaff has now taken on his latest pub - Shipley Pride.

The pub, originally known as The Beehive, a name he says it will revert to once the extensive refurbishment programme is complete in the Autumn, joins William’s other award-winning drinking establishments, Jacobs Beerhouse in Bradford, the New Beehive in Westgate and Shakespeare’s in Sheffield.

William believes while the industry remains challenging, offering people what they want, being accessible and being in the right location is among the crucial criteria.

The increasing popularity of craft ales and spirits is also contributing to a buoyancy in the industry.

According to accountancy and business advisory firm BDO’s Restaurant and Bars Report, high quality pubs are once again attracting the interest of investors as the booming industry in craft beer and gin particularly continues to attract consumers and create strong returns.

Investor interest has also been buoyed by consumers revelling in the prolonged hot weather and the World Cup.

This follows a prediction in the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) Pub Market Report that the pub sector is set to return to positive outlet growth within the next five years and that turnover will outpace the wider eating-out market for the first time since 2008.

Mark Edwards, head of the restaurant and bars sector at BDO, said: “Pub numbers have gradually fallen over the last few decades. The trade has been dealt blow after blow with legislative changes, falling discretionary spending, sky high rents and cheap supermarket alternatives.

“But things are definitely looking up. The casual dining market on the other hand remains challenging; competition is high, margins are being squeezed and the future looks tough for those that aren’t best in class for concept and operational performance.”

“Quality pubs have proved to be resilient assets. They have played an important part in our high streets, cities and local communities for hundreds of years and have successfully adapted to ever-changing consumer demands.

“There are a number of exciting, fast-growing managed pub and bar groups that are likely to be on the radar of investors. We can expect a wave of consolidation in the next 12 to 18 months.”

Says William: “I think there is always going to be demand for good drinking and eating places.”

“The traditional pub has had a bit of a bashing but there is still a demand for a good traditional pub.”

He says the key to success is offering something for everyone, for older and younger customers who both appreciate the history while enjoying the quality and range of drinks on offer.

For Andy Gascoigne, owner of the Rose and Crown pub in Cleckheaton, the popularity of the gin drinking trend is proving big business for his enterprise - Haworth Steam Brewery.

They also supply their spirits, the popular Miss Mollies gins, and tonics to independents up and down the country including Keelham Farm shop which has shops in Denholme and Skipton.

Supplying the demand is certainly the secret to his success along with diversity.

“Diversity, hard work and giving customers what they want. Don’t be greedy, give people what they want, value for money and give them diversity and be different - don’t be afraid to be different.”

Since 2000 the number of pubs in the UK has fallen by 17 per cent, or 10,500 pubs, according to the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).

The decline has been blamed on a number of factors including high taxes on pints, the smoking ban, the increasing price of food and drink and squeezed household incomes.

However, the BBPA has said the rate of pub closures is slowing down.

About 1,100 pubs closed their doors in 2015 but fewer than half that number closed in 2016.

British Beer and Pub Association chief executive, Brigid Simmonds, said: “It is always good to see investment in UK pubs and an acknowledgement of the important part they play for communities and investors.”