BRADFORD’S pubs have bucked the national trend during the Covid-19 pandemic thanks to ingenuity and loyal customers.

Adapting to a new lockdown market to keep cash coming in, working together to support other pubs and getting the backing of customers has meant very few pubs in the district have fallen victim to the pandemic.

This is a stark contrast to the national figure, where more than 2,000 pubs have been forced to close their doors due to lockdowns, with more than 10,000 licensed premises – including bars and nightclubs – falling victim to Covid-19.

Peter Down, chair of the Bradford branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, said many pubs switched to online sales and takeaway services to keep their punters well-oiled and to keep cash flowing in.

Pubs such as the Boar & Fable in North Parade, Cap & Collar in Saltaire, and Peacock Bar in Bingley all turned to takeaway services to stay afloat.

The Boar & Fable and Peacock Bar teamed up for takeaway food and drink, with the Boar & Fable supplying specialist craft beers sold through the Peacock, while the Cap & Collar also offered a takeaway service while it was unable to have customers through the door.

Local breweries have also gone the same way; with sales to pubs and bars cut off they went direct to consumer more than ever before offering direct delivery to people’s homes.

Raj Mistry owns The Peacock and Boar & Fable, and said the takeaway service was pivotal to his bars’ survival.

He said: “The beers from Boar & Fable were an incentive for people to order food and a link with a business in Bradford.

“We did a lot of takeaways during lockdown, it was crucial for keeping us afloat and the Boar & Fable brand alive.

“The service was a big hit, we gained a lot of new customers and people coming back to us.

“We aren’t seeing the numbers coming back to our bars, people are still worried about Covid-19, but the return of Bradford City fans in the city centre has been a huge boost now crowds are back, our bars have been some of the busiest in North Parade with City fans.”

Another successful measure to keep pubs alive has been Covid business grants to pubs, with tens of thousands of pounds dished out to the district’s taverns. Breweries also gave their pubs a hand, with freezes on rents and bills to ensure landlords would be able to reopen once lockdown was lifted.

The Government’s furlough scheme was also a life-saver for landlords and bar staff alike, enabling them to remain employed while pubs were closed.

However, not all pubs survived the past 18 months and three lockdowns enforced by the Government, mainly in the city centre.

Brick Box in Ivegate shut its doors for good in the first lockdown; when social distancing remained it was too small to be financially viable, and it was decided last year it wouldn’t reopen and would be sold.

Back in 2020, Brick Box said: “Since Covid hit us, we’ve been unable to reopen because the bar is just too small to be able to get enough socially distanced people in it to make it financially viable.

“We’ve taken the difficult decision not to reopen The Brick Box Rooms in the future, and instead to put the bar up for sale. We’re very sad to say goodbye to the space we’ve called home for the past three years.

“Our fantastic team have been our biggest asset and we are so sad to have to let them go.”

The Old Bank, in Market Street, didn’t reopen earlier this year, citing huge falls in customers due to office workers not returning to the city centre, and remained closed since May.

While the measures brought in; furlough and business grants, and the creative steps taken by some venues have proven successful, and shown it was possible for pubs and bars to survive in harsh conditions, not all venues were able to weather the storm despite the help and support in place.