IN the latest in our series highlighting some of Bradford's old pubs, Paul Jennings, author of Bradford Pubs and The Local: A History of the English Pub, looks at the Ring 'O' Bells.

"The Ring 'O' Bells at the foot of Bolton Road was another old Bradford pub which witnessed the whole of the town's modern history.

The building dates back to the latter part of the 18th century and was owned by the Balme family, of which Abraham Balme was an important figure in Bradford's early development, including the canal which connected the centre of the town here with the Leeds to Liverpool at Shipley.

Although there was an earlier Ring of Bells near the parish church from which it took its name, the former house was licensed in 1827, when it was described as on the new Bradford to Eccleshill turnpike, later Bolton Road. At that time the area was a miniature port, with canal wharves and warehouses for barges.

An early landlord was subjected to the once common practice of community shaming rituals. John Howard had married a Miss Walker just 13 days after the death of his wife. Miss Walker, for her part, had jilted her betrothed to do so.

According to the Bradford Observer in September 1845 'outraged public virtue' in the form of a crowd of women and boys assembled outside the pub, blew whistles, shouted and beat old tin cans to express their disapproval.

A plan of the pub in 1880 shows a bar, tap room, snug and travellers' room. There was also a dram shop in the small extension to the left of my photo, which was a separate room dedicated to the sale of spirits, especially gin at this time and which were notorious for heavy drinking. Certainly in 1883 the licensee and a barmaid were fined for permitting drunkenness on the premises.

A few years later in 1890 the pub was bought by Bradford brewers Waller and Son for the then large sum of £5,000. By this time the view had changed again. The canal had been filled in due to its insanitary state and redundancy once the railway came.

Narrow Broadstones, which connected Kirkgate to Church Bank, and the warehouses for the canal had been demolished, an imposing new Post Office built and a splendid square created to commemorate the town's famous MP, WE Forster, the founder of state elementary education.

This square in the 1960s was much reduced to form a traffic island in a comprehensive redevelopment.

Such was the scene then in the mid-1980s when my photograph was taken, by which time it had become a Tetley's pub, and although the old layout had been opened out, it retained many fine features, including a rather attractive snug to the rear of the bar.

The former dram shop was now the kitchen. It seemed to be doing well when I visited at this time, often for pie and peas after a day at the nearby Bradford Archives on Canal Road and evening trade was similarly brisk."

Paul Jennings