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The High Flying Birds of Old Halifax....

A classic Halifax pub that continues to thrive, and some other bits....

In the not-so distant past, when Halifax wasn't so on-trend, any comparisons with Shoreditch would have been met with puzzled, nay alarmed, looks, and the town centre was a wasteland for places where you could get a decent pint, chances are that the discerning beer drinker would have headed to the bottom end of town and landed up at the Three Pigeons on South Parade, midway between the railway station and the local theatre of dreams, aka The Shay.

Flying high: The Three Pigeons, Halifax
I have been going in 'the Pigs' almost as long as I have been watching Halifax Town, so that's well over 40 years. It has lost out to other places for a time over the years - most notably the much-missed Pump Room and Sean Garvey's Dirty Dicks - but it has drawn us back so many times. These days, we tend to have a pre-match pint at the Grayston Unity or the Victorian Craft Beer Cafe, but post-match analysis invariably happens at the Pigs, which has been home to many moans and fewer celebrations over the years.

Post-match analysis after another Town game....
I don't tend to get in much outside of the football season, but I did manage to pop in the other day, when, with only a few customers rather than the hordes that go in after a game, it gave me chance to appreciate once again what a fabulous place the Three Pigeons actually is. A classic Grade 2-listed Art Deco pub, it dates from 1932 when it was opened by local brewers Samuel Webster. It became a free house for a few years when Websters closed, before being taken over by Ossett Brewery in 2005, who, as in many cases with pubs they take over, enhance the features they find. Whilst having acquired an already fantastic pub, additional work revealed a classic geometric beige and green terrazzo floor in the octagonal lobby beside the bar as you go in.
Classic terrazzo at the Three Pigeons
Off this lobby, there is a lounge to the right as you go in, with a snug to the left, whilst further in there is a taproom with a television. A corridor takes you to the toilets and a further two rooms, a further tiny snug, and a more spartan room with dartboard. Wood-panelling features throughout, with fireplaces, sympathetic decor, furnishings, and artwork. Above the lobby is a mural featuring three pigeons, although this only dates from the 1980's.
Drinking lobby at the Three Pigeons
On the bar is a choice of a number of Ossett beers, with White Rat from the sister Rat Brewery in Huddersfield normally available, plus at least one guest and a cider. It does get busy, particularly on matchdays when Town or Halifax Rugby League are at home, but with plenty of rooms you can usually find a place to go. And out of season, as I found the other day, it can be a welcome oasis from the busy world outside. So, if you are in Halifax at any point, a trip to the Three Pigeons is well worth making. Just as it always has been over the years....

Another traditional Halifax pub is the Big Six on Thomas Street, set in the middle of a row of terraces in the King Cross area of the town. This also possesses a multi-roomed format, and like the Three Pigeons, is a traditional unspoilt pub that has carried on its own way for years, oblivious to the trendiness of the town centre a mile and a half away. I popped in for a pint with my brother earlier today, and it reminded me once again that Halifax has some great places that have been there for years, and possibly get overlooked these days. Which is a shame, as they are well worth a visit.... 
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In the meantime some other bits. I called in at the Cross Keys in Siddal, just up the road from the Three Pigeons last week, where the Moonshine was as good as ever. Landlord Hugh was telling me that their annual beer festival is taking place on the 10th, 11th, and 12th of August, and if it is anything like previous years, it is a must-visit. And if you are close by on July 1st, my good friends the Rainey Street Band are making an appearance. 

Over in Bradford, the highly-regarded Sparrow Cafe on North Parade has been bought by Kirkstall Brewery of Leeds. Based on the fact that owner Steve Holt apparently loves all things traditional about our pubs, and what the brewery have done with the Bridge Inn in Kirkstall and the Cardigan Arms in nearby Burley, the latter being one I still need to visit, regulars of the Sparrow should have nothing to worry about. I will try and get there as soon as possible.

And finally, I picked up the programme for Manchester Beer Week the other day at the Buffet Bar in Stalybridge. The festival runs from June 29th to July 8th with events up and down Greater Manchester. From the 29th to the 1st the Buffet Bar are hosting their annual beer festival, which manager Caz is busily preparing for. And she also told me that later in the year they are having a Meet the Brewer night with Fyne Ales which I hope I can get to!

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and keep on rockin' in the free world.....

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