IN the latest of his series of articles on old Bradford pubs, Dr Paul Jennings looks back at the Beehive Inn:

This photograph of the Beehive Inn at the corner of Tetley Street and Silsbridge Lane (courtesy Bradford Local Studies) shows a late-Victorian street scene in one of Bradford’s oldest and poorest districts.

It extended off Westgate down to Thornton Road and included the Longlands slums. The writer James Burnley described it around 1870 as a place of ‘much drunkenness and squalor’, but also joviality. The shops, he observed, were ‘characteristic of the people, dingy and dilapidated’. He went into one ‘general shop’, whose owner let him and his companion sit behind the counter and observe the customers as they came in for ‘pennorths o’tea’ and the like and where they met one of the many Irish who made the area home, a man of ‘fluent tongue and red-hot republicanism’.

Whether this was the Central Supply Stores of our photograph, there is no way of knowing, but the Beehive had been opened in 1860 as a grocer’s shop, with a licence to sell beer on the premises, by Edward Harrison who then bought this and other adjoining property four years later, according to the deeds which I looked at courtesy of Bradford Council, some years ago now.

On his retirement to Tyersal, Harrison sold the beerhouse and shop in 1871 to the proprietors of the Albion Brewery in Low Lane, Clayton, Joseph Hardy and his brother-in-law John Briggs, for just under £1,000.

It was an example of a number of small breweries then operating in the district, which owned and/or supplied just a few pubs, notably the Albion in Clayton itself, still trading.

The Beehive was then run by Joshua Swithenbank. We find him in the 1881 census, aged 39, with his wife, Mary, a servant Frances Murray, and seven children. Ten years later he and his wife and Frances are still there and of the children, Martha and Samuel are described as grocer’s assistants. But within three years another son, John William, had taken the licence, Joshua dying in March 1894. But he was not to enjoy the business for long, as the area was required by the Council for the widening of Westgate, the creation of Grattan Road, where Silsbridge Lane had been, and slum clearance.

The photograph probably shows Joshua in his white apron. But who is the little boy? Note that in addition to beer from Clayton he is stocking Burton Ales and Dublin Porter alongside items such as Nestles milk and grate polish. There is no surviving description, but it looks as if the shop was to the right and a little pub area through the door to the left.

There were a few pubs in Bradford which were also shops, but eventually the magistrates began to object to the arrangement, which was felt to encourage women to drink. At the licensing sessions of 1917, the five such remaining were either closed or required to give up the grocery side of the business.

One of those affected was the Mannville Arms in Great Horton Road, which some may remember as a busy pub in its day, but which closed and was eventually converted into a shop.

* 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.