THIS splendid illustration of the Belle Vue Hotel on Manningham Lane is taken from the auction particulars of 1890, which the former Bass North let me copy from the deeds to the pub, some years ago now.

With its top-hatted custom and the elegant carriage passing by, it clearly shows the class for whom it had been intended.

It was built by Samuel Clark, a builder of Bowland Street, on a plot of land he bought in 1873 from Francis Sharp Powell. It cost an unspecified ‘large sum of money’. Interestingly, the sale had come with a covenant that only private dwellings be built, with a minimum value commensurate with the area’s then status as a middle-class suburb. Notwithstanding, Clark was granted a licence for the hotel in 1874.

Its pretentions are clear from contemporary advertisements, offering first-class accommodation for commercial gentlemen, omnibuses to meet the principal trains and a night porter.

Unfortunately, Clark did not long enjoy his new venture. He may have overstretched himself financially, as in 1876 he bought a much larger plot of land to the rear of the hotel. Or business may not have lived up to expectations.

Whatever the reason, early in 1878 he presented a petition to the County Court for the liquidation of his affairs, by arrangement rather than bankruptcy. The purchaser, Henry Yewdall, a Bradford solicitor, fared no better and he did go bankrupt in 1890. It was this which led to the auction.

It was described as ‘an imposing edifice’ apparently doing ‘a large and profitable business’. It was the headquarters of the Manningham Football and Cycling Clubs. Indeed, the Bradford Cycle Club had held its fist annual dinner there back in November of 1877.

This sporting connection was a feature of the pub’s history, well documented by John Dewhirst on his bradfordsporthistory website.

It was here, for example, in 1903 that the Manningham Club discussed their conversion from rugby to soccer. It was popular then with Bradford City supporters until the end.

Back in 1890, it was bought by Hammonds Brewery for £7,400 and hence eventually became a Bass house. But by this time, wealthier Bradfordians were moving on from Manningham to Heaton and beyond, and the pub did not remain the hotel as had been intended.

But it was a busy pub. Behind it was the Belle Vue Barracks, where on August 4, 1914 the 6th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment was mobilised and to which volunteers then flocked.

It continued to be used by Territorials into modern times. Also into those times, the pub offered female strippers every lunchtime and evening seven days a week, as featured in an advertisement in a December 1977 issue of the Telegraph and Argus, recently reproduced there in facsimile.

Pie and peas were also on offer. But the pub closed in 1994. It was later the Bradford base of Minhaj-ul-Quran International UK, but this too has closed.

This Grade II listed building, so expressive of Bradford’s history, then stood empty.

* Dr Paul Jennings is author of The Local: A History of the English Pub (new revised third edition), Bradford Pubs and Working-Class Lives in Edwardian Harrogate. Available at Waterstones, WH Smith and online.