Pubs in the upper valley
Any area has its pubs of distinction and historical note. Calderdale, located on an important pass and trade route across the Pennines from Lancashire, is no exception. Here is an overview of pubs in the Upper Valley, to the west.
The oldest inn in Calderdale is said to be the Old Bridge Inn, in the centre of Ripponden. An inn was certainly recorded in the vicinity around 1307, but it is not certain that it stood on the same site, and the first recorded landlord was John Hurstwood in 1754. Nonetheless, a plaque on the outside wall proclaims it to be ‘probably Yorkshire’s oldest hostelry’! The present buildings, which are Grade II Listed, are thought to date from around the 16th century. The glass slide illustrated here (from the John Bates Slide Collection held by Calderdale Libraries and Information) shows the inn when it was known as the Waterloo Inn.
Hebden Bridge’s oldest inn is the White Lion Hotel, originally known as King’s Farm when it began life as a hostelry serving the river crossing. Another 17th century building, it preserves a fine stone fireplace at each side of which is carved a spiral – an old local charm against fire.
One of the district’s first libraries was in the Lord Nelson Inn at Luddenden. The 1634 datestone over the door recalls its origin as a private house for Gregory Patchett’s family; it did not become an alehouse until the middle of the 18th century, when it was called the White Swan. It was shortly afterwards that the library was set up with a collection of books donated by the parish minister.
Perhaps it was the library that attracted literary regulars like local poet William Dearden and Branwell Bronte, who was station-master at Luddenden Foot Station. The library continued until 1925; some of the books are now in the Calderdale Libraries and Information local studies collection.
Another local ‘library pub’ was the Golden Lion, at Todmorden, whose Book Club ran from 1798 until 1902. Its meetings were stipulated to be held ‘on or before the full moon’.
Mytholmroyd’s 17th century Dusty Miller stands where the Cragg Vale road joins the main road through the valley. Its long service as the village hostelry brought some notoriety in the late 18th century, during the time of the Cragg Vale Coiners. It was here that Mytholmroyd conspirators Robert Thomas and Matthew Normanton met in 1769 before going on to Halifax to murder the exciseman William Deighton.
Unfortunately, social developments are bringing about the loss of rural pubs all over Britain, and upper Calderdale is no exception.
The Robin Hood Inn in Cragg Vale and the Mount Skip, on an historically important trade route above Hebden Bridge, are among those recently lost, while the villages of Midgley and Blackshaw Head now have no pubs at all. Also lost to us is Calderdale’s highest pub, The Withens, which at 1392 ft above sea level was also West Yorkshire’s highest.
Calderdale Libraries has a large and varied collection of resources about local pubs.
For a list of these resources, enter public houses or pubs as a 'quick search' term in the Online library catalogue