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A Year at the Market....

"There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern" Samuel Johnson

Next Friday marks the first anniversary of the launch of Brighouse's first, and so far, only micropub, The Market Tavern. By any measurement it has been a runaway success and has become such an integral part of local life that it is hard to remember what the town was like before it opened.

Yet little more than a year ago what is now a thriving hub of the community was an unassuming old brick building, a former butcher's store room beside the old market. But, with much hard work, and advice and support from the likes of Hugh and Ruth of the Cross Keys at Siddal, and Alan and Alyson from Calan's in Hebden Bridge, Andrew 'Snap' Gardner and Debbie Taylor have succeeded in creating a warm, welcoming, friendly pub where great beer and good conversation are always the order of the day.

The bar features 6 hand pumps, which generally have a balanced selection of different beers reflecting the tastes of the regulars. So there will typically be a couple of light and hoppy quaffing beers, a traditional-style bitter, a couple of stronger ales, and a stout or porter for the dark beer lovers, all kept in excellent condition by Snap, who takes great pride in his cellar. Regulars on the bar are beers from Salopian, Abbeydale, Vocation, and Exit 33, but Snap isn't afraid to ask for suggestions from customers, and will also try out beers from new breweries. There are always 2 ciders available, lager drinkers are catered for with Warsteiner, and there is a good selection of quality wines(supplied by my next door neighbour, as it happens!). There is no food apart from pies, but regularly there will be complementary food like drip bread on the bar.

There is one main room, with seating and tables, and an additional small seating area by the entrance. Outside there is a lovely little beer garden which is very pleasant in the warmer months. Because of the size of the place it is impossible not to get talking to people, and not only has it become a regular haunt of many of my friends, I have also renewed acquaintance with many people I haven't seen for years, as well as meeting a lot of lovely people there for the first time. It is the kind of community pub that is becoming a lot rarer these days, and its popularity is testament to the hard work and welcoming nature of Snap and Debs, ably supported by Adam, who have made such an impact on the town in the past 12 months.

So what else do you need to know? The pub is dog-friendly, with Charlie the resident pub dog who never likes anyone to leave! Sadly, unless there is a bank holiday, the Market Tavern only opens from Wednesday through to Sunday(12 -10 every day). If you haven't been yet, you are missing out on one of the best pubs around. 
Now from the new to the old. I called into a pub with my eldest son, Luke, the other day that I have been going in since before he was born. As the kids were growing up we used to go quite regularly as it had a nice outdoor play area and beer garden in a pleasant semi-rural location despite its proximity to the M1. As they became older we would often stay inside and play pool. However, it is rare that we visit these days and this was the first time we had been in I would guess for 18 months. The pub is the Nook at Lofthouse, between Leeds and Wakefield, a rambling old place with several rooms which hasn't changed hardly in 30 years or more. Danny, the landlord, has been there for most of that time, and has seen the kids grow up. The pub still serves Tetleys on hand pump and still has a loyal band of regulars, although how many of those come from the new houses that have been built over the nearby fields that used to be there when the kids were growing up, I wouldn't like to say. It is quite reassuring that a pub the size of the Nook can carry on as it has always done without being knocked about and turned into more of an eating place.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, as the rest of the team were unavailable for our usual quiz at the Dusty Miller, I managed to get to see Hallfalldown, the new duo featuring those legendary musicians, Nick Hall and Des Horsfall. This was another in the series of gigs that have started up at the Alexandra in Halifax. 

I arrived after the first set as Nick and Des were having an interval pint. Nick greeted me and told me they had got together at the suggestion of their mutual agent. These are two top musicians. I have seen Nick several times over the past year or two, most recently at The Beck, on my birthday actually, not that that was anything to do with it! I haven't though seen Des for years, the last time I think was at the Barge and Barrel in Elland. In the meantime he has been to Nashville, recorded albums, toured with his band Kushty Rye, and worked with many top musicians, most recently Pete Townsend. So it felt a privilege to be able to witness these two fine musicians close up in the early days of their partnership. They performed some great songs, such as 'Richmond Green', 'How Deep is my Valley', 'Wild Ideas', and 'Dancing in the Dark', and took it in turns - more or less - to lead the way. It really did work well and if you get chance to see them performing, I would urge you to go. They have an upcoming gig at the Wadsworth Community Centre, near Hebden Bridge on 18th March, with Bella Gaffney as support. 
Finally, next weekend sees the return of the Bradford Beer Festival, at the beautiful Victoria Hall in Saltaire. It runs from Thursday to Saturday, and I am planning to visit on the Friday for an hour or two, before returning to Brighouse to join in the celebrations at the Market Tavern....
All smiles: Snap and Debs at The Market Tavern


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