IN my recent article on the Shoulder of Mutton I went back to Bradford’s earlier history and one of its oldest streets, Kirkgate.

Here I go to another ancient thoroughfare, Stott Hill, off Church Bank. My photograph (courtesy Bradford Local Studies) shows the Masons Arms there. When I looked at the title deeds to the property at Bradford Council, the earliest deed was of the late 16th century. These cottages, however, probably date from the 17th century.

Elizabeth Ward had inherited the property from her father Robert, who was the parish clerk. She married Samuel Fearnley, a stonemason and it was one of their six children, Robert, who converted his share of the property into a beerhouse in 1845.

Robert followed in his father’s trade and continued to do so whilst his wife Hannah ran the pub, as was common at the time. The pub’s name therefore reflects both his job and that of the customers who would work for the graveyard of St Peter’s (now the Cathedral) which was directly behind the Masons and the entrance to which may be seen in the background of the photograph.

Sometime later, in 1866, the property was sold to the sitting tenant, Anthony Mitchell. He had previously been a brewer and ostler and indeed continued to brew his own beer.

Mitchell died, aged only 36, in 1874 and his widow Isabella later remarried James Wooller, who joined her at the Masons. He did not stay long as within three years he deserted her, forcing Isabella to take legal action to protect her earnings and property, which otherwise at that time could have been claimed by James.

A surviving inventory shows a typical small pub of the time. It had just two rooms, served from a small bar. Entrance was through double glass doors into a passage lit by a fancy gas bracket and globe.

It had a bar parlour and tap room, the latter displaying seven pictures and a pair of buffalo horns. It also had a dartboard. The urinal and privy are the rather primitive looking structures at the front of the pub.

Time was then soon to be called, however, as Bradford Corporation bought all the properties for road widening and the Masons Arms closed in 1888. The street was then ‘improved’ in the language of the day, but I always liked to think of the Masons as I walked along it a century later, and old St Mary’s Catholic Church and school which had stood opposite, before making my way down those wonderful worn steps by the side of the Ring of Bells into Bolton Road.

A more detailed piece on the Masons Arms was published in the Bradford Antiquary in 1989, Third Series Number 4.

* Finally, may I correct an error that crept into my previous piece on the Shoulder of Mutton. In the photo caption, the entrance is to the inn yard, later the beer garden; the old Piece Hall and Piece Hall Yard were and are on the other side of Kirkgate.

* Dr Paul Jennings is author of The Local: A History of the English Pub and Bradford Pubs.