Old Bradford pub now a 'forlorn spectacle'

The derelict Hare and Hounds at Horton Bank Top
The derelict Hare and Hounds at Horton Bank Top

IN the latest of his look backs at old Bradford pubs, DR PAUL JENNINGS reflects on the Hare and Hounds:

Driving recently on a foggy morning towards Horton Bank Top, I noticed through the gloom the parlous state of the former Hare and Hounds, boarded up and semi-derelict.

This is a sad state of affairs as it is a pub of some historic interest and is grade II listed.

I looked at the title deeds some years ago now, in the late 1980s, when it was a Webster’s pub, which involved a trip to a solicitor’s office in Hull, with the bonus of enjoyable visits to the Ferens Art Gallery, the Wilberforce House and Museum and Ye Olde Black Boy pub. The oldest document was from 1811, when the trustees under the will of Betty Thornton of Horton sold to one Elizabeth Bower of York for £567 the former cottage, now occupied as a public house or inn, known by the sign of the Hare and Hounds, together with stables and outbuildings. The sixth on the list of names of occupiers was David Keighley, who was granted a licence in 1773, as can be seen in the surviving records at Wakefield Archives, followed by Charles Parker, granted one in 1803.

It was located, as pubs so often were, on an old coaching and waggon road, the one from Bradford through Horton and Queenshead, as it was earlier known, and on to Halifax. Several old inns punctuated the route.

The King’s Arms at Great Horton, for example, with a datestone of 1739, or the Crown, a little lower down the hill from the Hare and Hounds, which dates back to the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. Or further along the road, the Old Dolphin.

Local historian James Parker, writing in 1904 in his book Illustrated Rambles from Hipperholme to Tong, provides details of the next landlord of the Hare and Hounds after Parker, William Tordoff. He was a collier who was pressed into the Third West Yorkshire militia in 1803, in which he became an officer’s servant to Colonel Pollard. At the close of his service Pollard awarded him with a ‘handsome present in cash’, which Tordoff used to take the Hare and Hounds, then known, according to Parker, as the Cross Keys.

The property passed through several owners, including Ann Fothergill of Knaresborough and Samuel Cordingley, gentlemen of Horton Old Hall, until it was bought in 1920 by William Boyes of the Granby Hotel, Queensbury. Within three years he in turn sold it for £3,200 to Bradford brewer J. Hey and Co, and hence eventually to Webster’s.

It was not a pub I visited more than an odd occasion, I have to say. Its interior didn’t show its historic origins, but then most old pubs don’t, any more than say shops do, with a long central bar area, open plan with separate drinking areas, pool room at one end and raised seating area at the other.

Perhaps readers can supply more recent memories. But at the moment it presents a forlorn spectacle.

* Dr Paul Jennings is the author of The Local: A History of the English Pub (new revised third edition), Bradford Pubs and Working-Class Lives in Edwardian Harrogate. Available at Waterstones, WH Smith and online.