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No More Crows The Rooster....

Another much-loved pub which has played a big part in so many people's lives over the years has recently closed its doors....


News broke the other week that The Red Rooster, at Brookfoot, near Brighouse, was to close at the beginning of March. With the rent being increased by an incredible £935 a week, landlord Eddie Geater decided that it was simply not viable to keep the popular free house open. And it is sad news, as the Rooster has been at the forefront of the area's pubs for most of the last 30-odd years. And it is a big deal. Before it opened as the Rooster there were hardly any free houses in the area as we know them today where there was a truly wide and unrestricted choice of beers. Prior to being the Rooster, the pub had been a Webster's tied house, The Wharf, which had been built in the early 20th century to cater for workers from the nearby wharf from where local coal was transported via the canal network. And to this day, three former wharfmen's cottages adjoin the pub, which sits on a sharp bend about half a mile out of Brighouse town centre.

I first visited the Red Rooster back in the mid-1980's. Back then the pub was a fledgling recruit to Jim Wright's TFC group, whose original pub, The Fighting Cock in Bradford, had become a regular haunt during my time working at mail order company Grattan, and so naturally I had to check out the new recruit which followed the TFC formula of featuring a wide range of beers, many not seen in this tied-house dominated area previously. It worked, just as the original Fighting Cock had done, as people from near and wide flocked to the Rooster to try out these new-to-the-area beers.

Apart from the odd trek over from Leeds, where I was living at the time, I didn't though visit the Rooster regularly until the early 1990's when I had moved to Elland and where we would go for a change from the Barge and Barrel. Back then it was run by a couple called Tom and Brenda, who ran a cheerful and popular pub where the beer was invariably spot on. The pub was full of real characters, from all walks of life, and you never knew quite what was going to happen. There was a lovely barmaid at this time called Victoria who used to shout "Last Orders" and "Time" louder than anyone I have ever heard before or since. The beer choice was good, but the one beer that stood out was Yankee from Roosters Brewery in Harrogate. This was a pale, floral, refreshing 4.3% beer, which was so different to the beers generally available at that time, and it was easily the most popular beer on offer. A barrel would invariably sell out in rapid time, if you were lucky there would be another one tapped and waiting in the cellar....
I started to go in most regularly in the late 90's. By this time the pub was run by Elaine, and much of the formula was the same, focussing on great beer served by friendly, welcoming staff, and a great craic. It was from this time I met people at the pub who remain friends to this day. Bands used to perform regularly, the likes of Blood, Sweat, and Beers, Sgt Wilko, and a very young Chantel McGregor all appearing over the subsequent years, packing the pub out so it was a struggle to get to the small bar to get served. But it wasn't just when the music was on, Friday nights were always rammed. A tea time drink would invariably be a mix of excellent beer and crazy anecdotes from the assembled characters. It was a pub for all occasions, a pub for all seasons: a great little beer garden to sit out in the summer, overlooking the corner and Brookfoot hill, whilst in winter a roaring fire would be relief from the elements outside.

I went on a number of trips from the pub during this period, usually organised by Elaine. Particular stand outs were trips to Sheffield and Derby, whilst another one saw us visit Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay via a public service bus to meet up with a bus driver who had just completed(I think) the Coast to Coast Walk. Another trip was to Edinburgh for the day by train, organised this time by Russ Baron. These were great days out, and enforced the sense of community there was at the Rooster.

In March 2002, the Rooster was taken over by Eddie and Claire Geater, whom I had known for several years from the Pump Room in Halifax. A few changes were made, the pub was given a stone floor and decorated, but other than that, the formula of great beer, great conversation, and live music was strongly maintained and the Rooster continued to be the heart of the community, and a regular haunt. From where we lived in Hove Edge, it was a pleasant 25 minute walk down through the countryside of the Red Beck valley to Brookfoot. When it was my 50th, we celebrated it there, the automatic choice. And then I changed jobs so that increased travelling time meant my weekly routine changed, other places came along, and my visits to the Rooster became less frequent, but I have always enjoyed my visits when I have been in over the subsequent years.
I walked down one Monday before it closed with our Tom, a few days after the news had broken. Eddie was working behind the bar, and asked with typical humour if "we'd come to pay our last respects". We chatted about the situation. The pub, which Eddie's company leases, is owned by a wealthy individual based in London who is a major shareholder in several big PLC's, and owns several properties in Mayfair, so to him £935 a week is just loose change. No concern for people to whose lives this is a major part. But, put starkly, to a pub whose trade had been declining for a year or two, and where Eddie decided to go back behind the bar after dispensing with a manager to save costs, it simply isn't viable to keep going. And with no car park to speak of, an increasing reluctance these days by the local authority to allow change of use from a pub, it is hard to see what the future will hold for the building. And so, for now at least, another community loses its pub....
I will miss the Rooster. Like the Barge and Barrel along the road, it has played a big part in my life over the years. I sadly didn't manage to get in again before time was finally called on March 2nd....

Follow me on twitter: @realalemusic

Comments

  1. Does it have an ACV listing?

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  2. Hi Chris. What a lovely article you have written about a pub with a special place in my heart. Most of my great aunts and Uncles worked at the BDA across the road and all drank in the Wharf. My Great Auntie Jessie used to live in an under dwelling under the Wharf. I used to help the patrons, Jack and Bessie 'bottle up'. So it's fare to say I have been going in since I was 3. I to had my 50th in there. The pub is much older than you suggested. 1833 it opened. For the stone workers in the Southowram quarries who would load the sandstone onto the barges on the canal. After leaving the Army and then working away, when I returned home to Brighouse 6 years ago it was one of the first pubs I visited.

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  3. Thank you for kind comments and further details on the history of the place, I didn't realise it was that old. Great to hear about some personal stories about another sad loss of a great pub!

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