WITH plans underway for major demolition work at Bradford Council’s Jacob’s Well building, Paul Jennings, author of Bradford Pubs and The Local: A History of the English Pub, looks at the history of the nearby pub from which the name derives.

Mr Jennings writes: “The building itself is one of only a few surviving in the city centre from the period of Bradford’s early growth before 1850. Not only that but it was an early example in the town of the fruit of an extraordinary piece of legislation.

This was the Beer Act of 1830, which permitted any householder to sell beer without having first to obtain a licence from the local magistrates. Nationally thousands took up the business opportunity so offered, and soon in Bradford the beerhouse was the most common type of pub.

By 1869, when the scheme ceased, there were around 460 of them in the town, trading alongside nearly 140 fully licensed pubs.

The Jacob’s Well opened in 1830, according to the register which the police kept. Like many others it was converted from an existing property - two back to back houses which had been built in a block of four just a few years earlier on part of a field.

The census of 1841 records the landlord as Jacob Dawson. There is also said to be a well underneath the premises, which is not uncommon as many properties were supplied with water in this way before the development of piped supplies.

A recent Remember When article on the Jacob’s Well area repeats a story that water was sold from this well at a penny a bucket, although in the various records which I looked at I have found no trace of this tale. There is also the Biblical story of Jacob’s well, so the name may derive from all three sources: landlord, Bible and well.

In 1882 the pub was put up for sale and bought by Wallers brewery for £1,155.

The sale plan for the auction, which I looked at some years ago with the deeds to the pub at Tetleys brewery, to whom its ownership eventually passed, shows a fairly typical back-street pub. There was a small tap room at the front, a parlour to the rear and a filling bar in the passage.

This was the layout petty well as I remember it from the early 1970s, except that the positions of the parlour and tap room had been reversed. I remember too that the toilets in the yard were fairly primitive.

In the 1880s much of the area’s housing was being demolished to make way for warehousing and this in turn was removed, some of it in flames, from the 1960s.

This photo is from 1975, showing the banal office block which took the pub’s name and which too is now due to go.

By the early 1980s a full licence had been obtained and the pub was extended into the adjoining property.

Happily it still trades as Jacobs and Bradford’s Original Beerhouse. It may not have been the first - we have no way now of knowing - but it is certainly a rare survivor from that year of 1830 and of Bradford’s early development.”