IN the latest of his look backs at old Bradford pubs, PAUL JENNINGS recalls the Wheat Sheaf on Wakefield Road:

The original Wheat Sheaf, at the junction of Wakefield Road and Hall Lane, was one of the oldest inns in the district. Located within Bowling township, one of the four which were to make up the new Borough of Bradford in 1847, it was where the township meetings were held in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

These dealt with local matters such as the relief of the poor and highways and the officials no doubt enjoyed the hospitality of the Fieldhouse family, who ran the pub in those years.

Hall Lane was the road towards Bolling Hall and the inn was part of the large estate around it, which extended up to Dudley Hill. It is recorded in a deed concerning the purchase of a large part of the estate from Sir Francis Lindley Wood of the Hall by the Bowling Iron Works in 1806.

Over the succeeding years, the area was then covered with industrial development and housing. Immediately adjoining the pub was the Broomfields district, home to some of the many Irish migrants who came to Bradford in the mid-19th century.

The Bradford Observer in December 1855 recorded a fight among some of them at the Wheat Sheaf, resulting in several broken windows, after a servant girl was alleged to have thrown a glass of hot water in the face of one man without provocation. It was, however, lively in more peaceable ways, as two years later the paper records a concert in the lodge room and the addition of a ballroom to the premises.

One later landlord was perhaps a little too sociable, however, when Alfred Whitaker was fined £10 in March 1918 for serving at twenty-five past one in the morning. At the next licensing sessions, the police objected to the renewal of the licence, which was, however, granted after a caution.

By this time, the pub belonged to Joseph Spink and Sons of the Brown Royd Brewery. At the beginning of the 1920s this was taken over by J Hey and Company, brewers of Lumb Lane. Shortly thereafter the company carried out major renovations. These were revealed in a piece in the Telegraph & Argus of July 20, 1955. This carried before and after photographs in 1926 and 1927. That of the latter year is shown here.

It was done in an idiosyncratic style seen at several of the company’s pubs, like the nearby Exchange Inn, Mill Lane or the Commercial on James Street in the city centre. The two photos show clearly how it was raised to the level of the building on the left and how it retained its two entrances.

The Wheat Sheaf was eventually to disappear, along with many other pubs and their neighbourhoods, in the redevelopment of the area and the creation of the new Wakefield Road from the 1960s. Manchester Road was similarly changed beyond recognition. These were meant to help create a new, modern city for the motor age. Now in the city centre we again see major changes underway, part of a different vision of a future for cyclists and pedestrians.

As with that previous vision, it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

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