THIS charming old photograph is of the Black Swan pub, which the Telegraph & Argus recently reported is being converted into shops and flats.

The Black Swan on Thornton Road was a popular pub and live music venue but the building, over a century old, has stood vacant since it was sold last year. A retrospective planning application has been submitted to Bradford Council to convert the building into two ground floor shops and eight flats.

Paul Jennings, author of Bradford Pubs and The Local: A History of the English Pub, says the T&A report reminded him of this wonderful old photograph of the pub.

Writes Paul: “The late Mr Squire Gray let me copy it many years ago when he was kind enough to speak to me about his parents and the time when they had the Black Swan. He is the little boy in the sailor suit on the pony and trap which his dad, Arthur, in the straw hat, is preparing to drive.

“Arthur had spent his working life to date in the drink trade, as a cellar man for a wine and spirit merchant and later as head barman at the Grosvenor Hotel in Ivegate, whilst his wife, Alice, also known as Sarah, ran the grocer’s shop at their home in Lonsdale Street off Barkerend Road. They had taken the Black Swan in 1912. Alice has her hand on the horse’s harness in the photograph. According to Mr Lister, she was very good at handling troublesome customers, which in the pub trade is often easier for a woman than a man.

“In the pub doorway are the pot man in his flat cap, the barmaid and waiter. This door led into the public bar, to the right into the tap room, whilst the door to the left led into a passage to the music room.

“The pub clearly displays that it was owned by Bradford brewer Waller and Son, who had bought it back in 1870, by which time it had been trading for some 20 years.

“The photograph was taken, according to Mr Gray, in the summer of either 1915 or 1916 during the First World War, which perhaps explains the generally older age of the men. The waiter, however, had an artificial leg, so was ineligible to fight, and conscription was not introduced until 1916. The war years were tough ones for pubs, with high prices and beer shortages, which led to a “lot of trouble” when the ‘no beer’ sign went up, as Mr Gray told me. In general, though, this must have been a good location for a pub in those days, at the busy crossroads of Thornton, Grattan and Lister Hills Roads. There was still a lot of housing nearby and no doubt thirsty workers from the great mills and warehouses around it.

“The last time I walked around there, just a few years ago now, some of those warehouses had been converted to other uses but others remained as gaunt and sometimes derelict reminders of Bradford’s textile past.

“As to the Grays, they weren’t long at the pub. The licence passed to Alice in September 1916, according to licensing records, when Arthur presumably was called up, though he was by then in his mid-thirties.

She stayed there until the summer of 1918. Arthur later ran other Bradford pubs, including the Metropole on Sunbridge Road.”