AT ONE time ‘doing the Manch’ was a great way to spend a Friday night.

Visiting as many pubs as you could along Manchester Road was a well-trod path to a good night out.

There was a song to accompany the Manch, a small excerpt of which is as follows:

‘We should have had a nip in the Blue Lion and the Griffin.

Like it, lad, or lump it we have missed the Horse and Trumpet.

Trouble now of course is we forgot t’Waggon and Horses,

We missed out all the Bentleys, we’ve not had a drop of Tetleys

So we’ll go back down and do the Manch again.’

Jeff Halmshaw remembers the pubs that lay along the song’s route well. As former editor of the West Bowling Journal, a publication looking back on times gone by in the district, he reflects on the loss of the majority of hostelries that he once knew or frequented.

Those Jeff can recall will be remembered by many a Bradfordian: the Majestic, Little Alex, Oddfellows Arms, the Blue Lion, the Griffin, the Queens Arms, the Fountain, the Boars Head, the Albany, the Horse and Trumpet, the Fleece, Yorkshire Divan, The Foresters, the Station Hotel, the Wagon and Horses, The Junction, Lister’s Arms, the New Inn, the Admiral Nelson, Wickham’s Arms, the Craven Heifer, the Red Lion, the Woodman Inn, Truncliffe Gate and Fox and Hounds.

“This is not an exhaustive list - some people will be aware of more than that,” says Jeff, mourning the fact that they have either disappeared completely or have closed and are now home to other businesses. “When I was a boy there were 22 pubs along Manchester Road - it is sad to now see less than a handful.

Now there are just four pubs on this busy dual-carriageway: The Top House (formerly the Fox and Hounds) The Woodman, Red Lion and the Station Hotel.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Jeff, along with his mates, enjoyed a drink or two in the Manchester Road pubs.

“I remember a group of young men trying to do the walk, taking a ‘gill’ (a quarter of a pint) in each establishment. If I recall correctly, they did not manage it.”

He adds: “The Admiral Nelson is now a solicitors’ practice, as is the Listers Arms. The Craven Heifer - the new pub which was built behind the old - is the base for an Islamic charity.”

Jeff, who lives near Peel Park, has many photographs of long-gone Bradford buildings, incluidng many pubs, gathered during his time writing and editing the magazine.

“I keep and file all of it - I probably have too much, my wife goes mad,” he jokes.

“Many of the pictures of old pubs in Manchester Road came from the home of a local woman who died. Someone who knew her passed them on to me. They are all interesting and are a record of times gone by.”

He names the Craven Heifer as one of his favourite places for a pint, as well as Vivien’s Bar at The Majestic. “You didn’t go to the main bar, but into the cellar – that was Vivien’s Bar, and it was good.”

He adds: “The Red Lion is still there - I have enjoyed a few pints in there after a game of golf.”

The Top House is referred to locally as Mary Shaw’s - if anyone knows why let us know. “I believe it was given the name after a previous landlady, but I am not sure,” says Jeff.

The Little Alex - the nickname for the Alexandra Hotel - was full of memorabilia of stage acts at the Alhambra. “There was a back passage from Manchester Road running to Little Horton Lane which people used. It was a grimier place back then but it had so much character.”

Character was not only confined to the road itself. In its hostelry heyday, the road was frequented by a number of memorable personalities, not least a Polish priest from the nearby St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Packington Street, who was a regular at Lister’s Arms. “One night in the mid-1950s received a phone call, left the church and was never seen again,” says Jeff. “It is said that he was taken by the KGB,” says Jeff. “It is a true story.”

Another well-known character was Kate Kennedy, an eccentric woman who would dance in the middle of Manchester Road. “If she went into pubs the landlords would give her a gill of ale to get rid of her,” says Jeff, who grew up in West Bowling.

The demise of Manchester Road’s pubs is not the only change in the area in Jeff’s lifetime. “As children we would walk from West Bowling towards Dudley Hill or Bierley and soon be in open countryside,” he says. “My friends and I once walked through fields all the way to Brighouse.”

Jeff edited the West Bowling Journal from 2008 to 2016. It’s publication is at present suspended due to a lack of material.