Less than 10 minutes on the train from my base in Brighouse is Mirfield, and I went over recently to check what this small town in the Lower Calder Valley has to offer these days....
The weather earlier in the day had been showery and changeable, but late afternoon blossomed into a bright sunny evening, meaning my original working title for this piece of A Murky Night in Mirfield was no longer appropriate. The canal in particular looked good, and the pleasant evening had even brought a couple of canoeists out. Technically speaking, it isn't a canal; because some of the 21.5 mile waterway takes advantage of the River Calder on its journey from Wakefield to Sowerby Bridge, it is called the Calder and Hebble Navigation, and like several of the towns that dot the route, Mirfield has embraced the opportunities it affords for leisure these days, with a marina and a host of barges moored here, whilst the towpath is a magnet for walkers, joggers, cyclists, and the fishing community.
|Canoe action on the Calder & Hebble Navigation|
Anyway, back to the matter in hand. One of the pubs I hadn't been to was the Old Colonial, around 25 minutes walk from the station. I walked past a park, one of several cricket grounds in the town, and through leafy suburbs and past new builds, gradually climbing although the Calder Valley is much wider and the slopes more gentle than back up the valley. I arrived at my destination, walked through a gateway, and came across what looked like a private house, heavily festooned with flowers as seemed to be the case across the town.
|Old Colonial, Mirfield|
|Very plush: The Old Colonial|
Back down the hill, and I came across a footpath which promised the town centre in 470 yards, so I took it and after skirting past a football pitch, I walked behind some houses, and I emerged on to Knowl Road, just off the main road through the town and very close to the Knowl Club, the other Good Beer Guide entry that I had never visited. Now in my experience you never know what you going to get with a club, and I have been in some horrors, but having been a member of Stalybridge Labour Club for a few years and as a current member of Hebden Bridge Trades, I know that some can be excellent. The Knowl Club, a former Liberal club set in an imposing building in the midst of housing, proved to be the latter. The bar was situated in the middle down one side of a long room, and I noticed 2 beers were on, from which I selected Saltaire Blonde which cost me the princely sum of £2.85!. The steward suggested I sat down and he'd bring it over as it was a bit lively, so I grabbed a free table opposite the bar. My beer was brought over to me shortly afterwards, and I took a sip. Too often, Saltaire Blonde is bland and insipid, but this was spot on, and easily the best pint of the evening (NBSS 4). The club itself had a quiet calm about it and as a non-member I was made most welcome. Well worth checking out.
|The Knowl Club, Mirfield|
Next up was a pub I had been in many times, the Navigation, now seemingly re-branded as the Navi, set beside the canal and marina and a few minutes walk from the station's eastbound platform. At one time they held regular beer festivals, usually featuring beers from a particular county or area, and we went along several times to discover some different beers. The pub has also been popular for many years with Rail Ale Trailers, but the makeover suggests it is aiming at a different market. Outside it has an excellent canalside beer garden with an outside bar, whilst inside it has been opened out a little as part of the makeover, re-decorated, kitted out with new seating, and generally smartened up but at the same time it seems to have lost the homely quirkiness that it had before. And with the staff, who to be fair were all very polite and friendly and provided a very efficient service, now wearing branded uniforms, it is sadly reminiscent of a general chain pub. Beer wise, it has always featured Theakstons heavily, with the bitter, Old Peculier, XB, and the rarely seen Lightfoot on the bar. That is still the case, but the choice on this time also featured Magic Rock Ringmaster and Highwire, and Malamute, from Lords brewery in Golcar. I had a pint of Ringmaster, which was pretty good (NBSS 3) although not quite up to Kings Head, Huddersfield standards, and I followed that with a pint of Malamute a 4.5% unfined (but clear) session IPA from Lords, whose beers rarely seem to make an appearance in my neck of the woods. It was quite pleasant and again I rated it as a NBSS level 3. As I left the Navi I noted the presence of a couple of bouncers, which I always find a jarring experience in a real ale pub and it is a shame that the pub feels that it needs their presence.
|The Navigation, Mirfield|
|The Flowerpot, Mirfield|
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