Halifax and Elland pubs
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 Lower Valley, to the east.
A venerable local pub is Elland’s Great House, in Westgate. Starting out as Great House Farm, it was long known as the Fleece Inn until 1997. The buildings date from around 1610, and its long history has left it with much character. A fight in the early 19th century ended in murder, and a bloodstained hand-print on the stairs that could not be erased – until part of the old staircase was burnt in the 1970s. The inn – or rather the barn that stood beside it until the 1960s – also had a ghostly headless coachman, Leatherty Coit, who would ride full tilt down Westgate, in a carriage pulled by a similarly headless horse. Tales of a grey lady, a secret passage and a listening hole are also told of the building.
Halifax’s Union Cross Inn is the oldest in town, having been in existence since at least 1535. Originally named simply the Cross for its position opposite the Market Cross, the ‘Union’ was added at the time of the Jacobite rebellion. The inn was the central coaching and packhorse halt in town, and its vicinity has been busy with all the usual revels of the past, including cockfighting and maypole festivities, causing divines like Oliver Heywood and John Wesley to despair – Wesley had to give up an attempt to preach from its steps. More respectably, perhaps, it is also believed that Daniel Defoe wrote part of ‘Robinson Crusoe’ while staying at the inn.
Sometimes people don’t like it when the name of a well-known pub is changed. One such inn is Lewin’s, at Bull Green, Halifax, a listed building dating from 1769. First known as the Hare and Hounds Inn, it became Lewin’s in 1881 when taken over by the Lewin family, and Lewin’s it remained until 1996, when it became one of the Irish theme pubs, O’Neill’s. The change of name caused some controversy, and finally (?), in 2000 it got its old name of Lewin’s back! However, one tradition long associated with Lewin’s seems unlikely to return – during the beer shortage of the Great War women were banned from the pub, and the men-only drinking continued until 1969.
Skircoat Green’s Standard of Freedom Inn has a special place in Calderdale’s radical movement. Originally known as the Waggoners, its name was changed in support of the strong movement of Chartism. The landlord at the time reputedly declared "the people of Skircoat Green shall join in that march of freedom, and I will raise the standard of freedom at this inn". The village was known for its radicalism and the inn became known for its Chartist and similar meetings.
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