IN the latest of his profiles at old Bradford pubs, DR PAUL JENNINGS looks back at the Red Lion in Bankfoot:

The Red Lion is the oldest of the three pubs I have looked at in these pieces. According to the local historian James Parker in his Illustrated Rambles from Hipperholme to Tong, the original inn was a low straw-thatched cottage, in existence he claims for several centuries.

It was rebuilt when the new road was constructed in the mid-1820s, the result, like the Craven Heifer and Woodman, of the increased traffic and growing population of that decade. It also faced the road to Leeds, Rooley Lane, so was a convenient location for travellers. Parker’s book has a photograph of the pub at the beginning of the 20th century.

I looked at the deeds to the pub when it was a Tetley’s house. These show that landlord James Fletcher sold it, together with brewhouse, stable and garden, in 1825 for £1,000 to the partners of William Whittaker and Company, who ran the brewery, known as the Old Brewery, which stood on the site where the New Victoria Cinema (later the Odeon) was to be built at the close of the 1920s.

The Leeds Mercury in January of 1829 reported a burglary there, when a John Waddington was the landlord, in which spirits, tobacco and cheese to the value of £20 were stolen. The thieves had bored holes in the door with a brace and had then broken in the perforated panel.

Among its landlords was John Cockroft from 1876 to 1886. Many years ago now, a descendant kindly sent me some information about him. He had formerly worked at Tankards in Bradford and by the time he retired in 1876, aged 45, he had managed to save £500, with which he set himself up as an innkeeper.

This was a common route into the trade; in my research I found many similar individuals who had invested their little all in the business of publican. Men from the world of sport, the army or the police, where age brought on early retirement, were also often to be found running pubs in the past. Women at this time were only granted a licence in their own right by magistrates if they were the widow, or very occasionally the daughter, of a deceased landlord. Although they were of course an integral part of the business.

My photograph, from the Telegraph & Argus archive, shows the pub in more recent times but it is still quite recognisable from that earlier Parker picture.

That May morning of my visit, I also explored this side of the six-lane highway that is now Manchester Road. The former Midland Bank was now closed and boarded up, although the adjoining barber shop which I remembered from the 1960s was still open.

Boarded up too was the one-time Ideal Bingo Club. This had started life as the Ideal Picture House but is perhaps best known for its days as Bert Shutt’s Ideal Ballroom from the mid-1930s to the early 1960s. It had, so I am told, a reputation as a bit of a rough place. Nearby, some old cottages had survived all the changes.

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