Potters Bar Extended
Out and About in Halifax

Halifax, situated in the West Yorkshire borough of Calderdale, was the weekend destination for us in May, and what a delight it is for the beer drinker and tourist. We were staying in a hotel south of the centre, just on the old canal basin—the canal to Halifax being removed many years ago. After arriving on a Friday afternoon, via a visit to Peak Wildlife Park and the wonderful views from atop Holme Moss, we needed to wet our whistle, so following the walk into town via the old canal route, our first stop was the Osset run pub, Three Pigeons (look high above the doorway to see them). This 1930’s pub has a wonderful interior with rooms off a main passageway, with the bar set to one side. Osset beers (5) are of course available, along with guest ales (3 on our visit including Coffee Oatmeal Stout by Anthology).

Next stop for us, closer to the centre was the Square Chapel Café and Bar, situated next to the Piece Hall. The Square Chapel dates back to the 1770s, and is now an Arts Centre for film, theatre, live music and workshops. The (long) bar hosts 4 real ales plus 5 craft/keg beers, I went for Abyss by Wishbone. There is also a terrace area to sit out in the sun and enjoy a drink or two, and watch the world go by.

We then continued our walk, by starting a Treasure Trail. If you’ve never done one of these, they are available on-line and, by a serious of directions and clues, guide you round areas and towns, making you look for things you might not of noticed – also a brilliant way to explore somewhere you have never been before whilst doing a pub crawl!

Next stop was the Ring O Bells, which claims to be the oldest licensed pub in Halifax, and right next to Halifax Minster. 5 real ales were on offer when we visited, of which I went for Beartown Polar Eclipse, the dark beer on offer.

Continuing on with our Treasure Trail, we explored more of the town centre, and popped into local restaurant La Luna for a lovely meal. Mainly Italian based, it was a very popular restaurant and we could see why with the excellent meals.

Moving onwards we went to one of our favourite pubs in Halifax town centre, the Victorian Café Bar, just behind the Victoria Theatre. The tiled bar offers 8 real ales plus 18 craft/keg beers, with beers from all over the UK including some very interesting strong beers. Watch out if you sit in one the tables near the door for the birds moving each time the door opens!

It was then time to move on and start heading back to the hotel. Walking back along the path away from the main road, you come across another old mill, Show Lodge Mill, and just down from that at the end of a cobbled road is Shears Inn. Shears Inn is a lovely free house, which on our visit, served 3 Timothy Taylor beers. The food smelt and looked delicious, but we had already fed ourselves, so we then moved on to the last pub for the night.

Leaving the Shears Inn, going across the Hebble Brook, you go up the bank to an area called Siddal. Here was the next pub on our list, Cross Keys. This 17th century traditional pub, has a bar to the left with seating to the right and a further room to the rear. The 8 real ales are kept in wonderful condition. The locals, landlord/landlady and their 2 dogs, made us feel very welcome, as we stayed and chatted with them. It was very easy to see why this was the local pub of the year 2017 and well worth the trip out of town.

Saturday, it was time to see more of the local history and so we visited the wonderful Calderdale Industrial Heritage Museum. Only open on Saturdays, as its run by enthusiastic volunteers, and has an interesting display of industrial machines from the past, big carpet looms, a scary looking cat (the maker of cats eyes hailed from Halifax), and a large upside down tub of Quality Street on the ceiling (the factory is just behind the railway station). It was a fascinating visit, run by some very entertaining volunteers. Well worth a visit.

We then moved on to the Royal Oak, a 1930s pub, which was made out of timbers from HMS Newcastle! Inside the main bar is large with a smaller side room to the side. 8 real ales were on offer with at least 3 being dark beers on our visit.

Next was the Grayston Unity, a small micropub behind the town hall. A small room with a very small bar is at the front, with another small room next to that. Apparently it hosts music nights, but we struggled to imagine how you could fit it in. There were 5 real ales on offer mainly regional – I went for the Wild Gravity by BAD.

Halifax itself, is filled with industrial heritage and the style of buildings very impressive. One such example is Dean Clough, which at 1⁄2 mile long was one of the worlds largest carpet factories. It’s now been regenerated into business units, retail units, hotel, galleries and a theatre, showing old buildings can be brought to life again.

Also at Dean Clough is a brewery tap for Stod Fold, our next pub stop. 6 Stod Fold beers are available plus 2 guests. I had the Dark by Stod Fold, which was enjoyed accompanied with a portion of mac’n’cheese and cauliflower bites from the in-house Street Food vendor.

Leaving Dean Clough, we then visited the Halifax Gibbet. The gibbet was an early guillotine used in the town during the 16th and 17th century, and the replica is on its original site along with a list of 52 people known to off been killed by the gibbet. Leaving the town, we went to an area

called King Cross, were, nestled amongst the terrace houses, is the Big 6 Inn. You can enter from either side of the interesting terraced building, with a bar in one small room. There are 4 rooms in total, each feels like sitting comfortably in someone’s front room. Friendly locals and staff ensure a warm welcome – the bar person on our visit, made us very welcome, along with the couple with their dog, who we chatted to. On the walls are items related to the Big 6 water company which used to operate here. As for the beers, 5 were on offer mainly regional ones, but I went for the Northern Imperial Stout by Hawkshead.

Sunday, saw us trying an escape room. This escape room is located in the Piece Hall. The Piece Hall has been wonderfully renovated and brought back to life with restaurants bars, gallery’s and shops in this former 18th century cloth hall. Traders would come here to sell their woollen products, before it then became a wholesale market before shutting in the 1970s. The restoration work is remarkable and took 3 years. As for the Escape Room, we managed to get out of the Halifax themed puzzle but 6 minutes over the allowed 60 minutes!

And Sunday saw us try out the only remaining 2 pubs on our list to visit, The Old Post Office, which (surprise surprise) used to be the old post office. This stone built pub has a long comfortable front drinking area and a slightly smaller area to the rear of the bar. Beers on offer on our visit included Raven by S43.

The Alexandra was the last one ticked off on our list. This microbar, has enough room for 4 seats by the window and a room for about 5 standing, but fortunately, more seating is available upstairs. 2 Real Ales are accompanied by a good range of keg beers.

We also re-visited the Three Pigeons, and of course we had to go in and say hello to the lovely people (and dogs) in the Cross Keys on the way back to our hotel. Again, we were warmly welcomed, and it was sad to say goodbye.

Monday saw us journey home via the Ponderosa Zoo, just near Leeds. It’s a small but wonderful place, originally set up as a therapeutic centre to bridge the gap between disabled and able bodied people. The friendly staff are always on hand to tell you about the animals and have a chat. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.