Saddleworth Pub Carpets, 1966

Graham Turner’s fascinating 1967 book The North Country paints portraits of towns and cities from Wigan to Durham, often stopping off in pubs and clubs on the way.

You might remember us quoting from it before, on the subject of Pakistani migrants attempting to integrate into pub life in Bradford in the 1960s.

The rather less politically charged extract below, from a chapter called ‘Over the Top’ about Saddleworth Moor, grabbed our attention for a couple of reasons.

No group of people in the valley are in more demand than the members of the Boarshurst Silver Band. George Gibson, a large, enormously jovial man with a great red face who plays the ‘basso profundo’ and also teaches brass in the local schools, reckons to be out either playing or teaching ‘very near every night’… [He] said over a pint at the King William [that] finding players was not any particular problem – “you find me twenty-four instruments and I’ll find you twenty-four kids”. The King William, incidentally, is one of the pubs in Saddleworth which has treated itself to wall-to-wall carpeting, an extravagance which [local character] John Kenworthy thinks has changed them from forums of discussion into mere drinking places. At one end of the bar were a group of the men we had been drinking with the night before at the Gentleman’s [Club], now deeply engrossed in a catholic selection of racing papers. At the other were half a dozen men in overalls.


  1. Carpets were seen as taking pubs downmarket, somehow? Making them more frivolous?
  2. A reminder that pub carpets aren’t a great old tradition – they’re a relatively new development.
  3. And, carpets aside, a reminder of how class segregation can happen even without physical boundaries.

In case you’re wondering, by the way, the William IV is still there, and still trading as a pub.

Tetley’s Post War ‘Estate’ Pubs in The North

We’ve just acquired a couple of editions of Tetley’s in-house magazine from the 1960s and thought we’d share some pictures of the then state-of-the-art modern pubs featured.

We usually scan these things and effectively thrown them away on Twitter but thought that we ought to put them somewhere a bit more permanent in case they’re interesting or useful for other researchers, or just for the enjoyment of people who might recall the pubs in question as they were in their heyday.

The first batch of photos are from The Huntsman for Autumn 1964. This picture is on the front cover:

The Cup & Ring (exterior).

Explanatory text inside says: ‘The Cup & Ring, the new opened Tetley house on the edge of the moors by Baildon. It is almost certainly the only public house in the country with this name — taken from the cup and ring markings carved by Early Bronze Age people on certain stones of Baildon Moor.’ Today the pub is — obviously, of course, it goes without saying — gone.

The Earl Francis, Park Hill, Sheffield -- exterior.

Next up is The Earl Francis at Park Hill in Sheffield of which the magazine says:

[The] third Tetley ‘pub’ in the vast comprehensive area of Corporation flats which will ultimately house 10,000 people, was named as a reminder of the local historical association with the Shrewsbury family… The first two of these three Tetley houses were each an integral part of the ground floor of the block of flats in which they were situated. The Earl Francis differs in that it is a separate building. To ensure harmony with its background of flats the shell was built by the Corporation; but the main entrance and canopy, the internal planning and structure, and all fixtures and fittings were dealt with by The Company.

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Why No Northern Pub Guides?

We’re trying hard not to be unfairly London-centric with our latest Big Project but it’s really quite difficult.

We’ve got 20th Century London pub guides coming out of our lugholes (see above) and even its commuter zone is quite well covered:

Home Counties pub guides, 1960s.

But when it comes to the North, we’re all but stumped. There’s one bona fide classic

Mass Observation: The Pub and The People.

…but, otherwise, it’s a matter of scrabbling for scraps, like the chapters on working men’s clubs and immigration in Graham Turner’s The North Country, or the odd chapter in more general books about The Inns of Old England.

All this only goes to highlight one of the Campaign for Real Ale’s many contributions to beer culture in Britain since the 1970s: truly local guidebooks.

CAMRA local guide books 1990s-2000s.

Although even those tend to be sadly light on prose and the oldest and most interesting ones are extremely hard to get hold of.

So, that’s mostly a moan, but if you do happen to know of a Mancunian, Liverpudlian, Leodensian or Geordie equivalent of, say, Alan Reeve-Jones’s 1962 classic London Pubs then do let us know. Otherwise, we’ll keep nosing around for crumbs.

Pakistanis in the Pub, Bradford, c.1965

We came across the passage below in Graham Turner’s 1967 book The North Country a few months ago and have been sitting on it because, frankly, race and immigration tend to be rather toxic topics.

The North Country, Graham Turner, 1967.It comes as part of a chapter called ‘The Burma Road’ about immigrants to Bradford. The author (who is still about, by the way) was aiming for something like objectivity, letting people tell the story in their own words, although by modern standards the locals seem to come off poorly, exploiting migrants by renting them property, for example, while moaning about them behind their backs. He might nowadays at his own choice of words in places, too — ‘benighted’!

Anyway, the section below struck us as interesting in the context of the argument put forward by some commentators that pubs have suffered in certain towns and cities whose populations include a substantial number of Muslims:

It was almost lunchtime and the pubs looked inviting. In one of them, the man behind the bar had a broad Lancashire accent, but the warm, dusty interior felt like part of the one of those benighted tropical places which Graham Greene evokes so well, where on the priest and publican are white. The publican here was serving a group of Pakistanis and all the faces in the ‘best’ room were dark.

‘We’ve been here two years now,’ he said, ‘and it’s beginning to drive the wife crackers. Wednesday afternoon, she had a drink, there were so many Pakistanis in here by ten she started crying. At two in the morning I was still trying to comfort her. This last month, at least ninety per cent of my customers have been Paks. I’ve about six whites apart from the girls, you get them of course. The whites have just drifted away. When we came, there’d be twenty or so.’

Now, that sounds to us like evidence that people from (probably) Muslim backgrounds (clearly not especially religious in practice) did attempt to make the pub part of their lives — they attempted to ‘integrate’ in the language of this particular debate — but were made to feel unwelcome.

It’d certainly be interesting to talk to some of those Pakistani pub-goers today, or to their children and grand-children.

Main image: ‘Lumb Lane’ from ‘Changing Bradford’, 1969, via Bradford Timeline on Flickr.

Lovely, lovely ale, mainstay of the North

Laurence Harvey in the pub in the film of Room at the Top.

John Braine’s 1957 ‘angry young man’ novel Room at the Top isn’t as fashionable now as once it was. We took our copy down from the shelf looking for examples of the word ‘ale’ being used in preference to ‘beer’ up north and realised just how much the book relies on pubs and drinking to make (rather heavy-handed) points about social mobility and class.

For example, when  the ruthlessly social climbing working class orphan, Joe Lampton, returns to his generically northern home town of Dufton for Christmas, he goes to the pub with Charles, a childhood friend.

The Siege Gun was our local; it stood on top of a little hill overlooking a wilderness of allotments and hen-runs. It was about half an hour’s walk from Oak Crescent; for some reason it was the only respectable pub in Dufton. The others weren’t exactly low, but even in their Best Rooms you were likely to see the overalled and sweaty. The landlord at the Siege Gun, a sour old ex-regular, discouraged anyone entering the Best Room without a collar and tie.

But he’s been spoiled by his time in upmarket Warley: “It was too small, too dingy, too working-class; four months in Warley had given me a fixed taste for either the roadhouse or the authentic country pub.”

Even Charles, who is planning to move to London, is fed-up of the Siege Gun:

Do you know, when I come into this pub, I don’t even have to order? They automatically issue a pint of wallop. And if I come in with someone else I point at them and nod twice if it’s bitter… Lovely, lovely ale… the mainstay of the industrial North, the bulwark of the British Constitution. If the Dufton pubs closed for just one day, there wouldn’t be a virgin or an unbroken window left by ten o’clock.

Graham Lees, one of the four founder members of CAMRA, apparently urged the use of the ‘ale’ in the name because it was a good, solid northern word, unlike the effete, southern ‘beer’.