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Bradford Goes Independent....

Bradford city centre has not had the best of times in recent years. The debacle with the old Broadway shopping area - whilst a grim place in itself - being demolished and subsequent delays in planning permission for redevelopment being granted meant the city centre had for years a massive hole in it. Add to that the closure of major local employers like Empire Stores and it is not surprising that the city had an air of depression and decline.

However, things are now looking up. The new Westfield development is taking shape and close by there are further signs for optimism. I took a trip to the so-called Independent Quarter the other day to visit the recently-opened Bradford Brewery pub on Westgate, thanks to a friend of mine who works close by letting me know when it was opening. Whilst the beers are currently being brewed in Baildon, the plan is that imminently brewing will take place on site, thereby bringing brewing back to the heart of the city for the first time in more than 50 years.

The smell of new wood was very noticeable, the chipboard prominent but then you realised it was part of the modern rustic decor style. Beer-wise, the Origin Pale Ale was more than acceptable and we enjoyed a pleasant hour or so chatting to other inquisitive souls who'd popped in for a first look.

We then headed down to North Parade, where the Record Cafe continues to build on its good start. Whilst I didn't check out the vinyl or try any of the charcuterie on offer, the beer and conversation were both very pleasant and it was particularly good to chat to some of the regular visitors. Well worth a visit, great concept and good luck to Keith and the team for the future.

Meanwhile across the road, The Sparrow continues to thrive. Former 'Guardian' top 10 pub of the year, this is the place that paved the way for this erstwhile quiet part of the city to become the up and coming place to be. Warm and welcoming, we enjoyed an excellent pint of Headless from Macclesfield's Redwillow Brewery, and got chatting again to some of the people we met in the previous two pubs. 

All in all, a very pleasant way to while away a couple of hours. The new Independent Quarter circuit- soon to be joined by The Beerhouse further along North Parade - is certainly an enjoyable place to be at the moment and seemed to go down well with the early evening Friday crowd.

As someone who has worked in and around the city and spent many a happy hour there over the years it is good to see the place now on a seemingly upward trajectory....

Postscript: 20/05/15
Move on 3 months, the Beerhouse has opened, and I have visited a couple of times to check it out. I have to say it is friendly, welcoming, and comfortable, although the fact they feel the need to have bouncers on a Saturday teatime is for me a negative. The beer choice, too, is unimaginative when compared to its neighbours, featuring local beers you can get anywhere. The price of a pint is too high considering you will be able to pay less not too far away, and the food also looks a tad expensive. So, whilst you will probably enjoy the ambience, it may not tick all the boxes in other respects. The Sparrow continues to soar, with a great atmosphere and good choice of beers, whilst the Record Cafe gets better every time. Next trip I need to re-visit the Bradford Brewery and see how they're getting on....


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