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Pubs that act as social centres for their community - Spring 2015

Welcome to the first spotlight of 2015. As we look forward to a year of our local pubs enjoying good custom, we highlight two public houses doing their utmost to be the social centre of their respective communities. One is on a busy road in a residential community between Keighley and Bingley and the other in a village at the head of the Worth Valley.

The Airedale Heifer, Sandbeds

The Airedale Hiefer, Sandbeds, KeighleySandbeds is quite possibly a place you haven‘t heard of. Situated between Riddlesden and Cross Flatts, it snuggles alongside the Leeds to Liverpool canal. Sitting in the middle of Sandbeds on the B6265 is a rambling stone built coaching inn dating from the mid 1800s, the Airedale Heifer. It‘s named after a national phenomenon, the Airedale Craven Heifer, made famous by an 1811 painting. Weighing in at 312 stone and at 12 foot long and 7 foot tall, she still holds the record as the heaviest cow in Britain.

The Airedale Heifer is an extensive pub with two main areas served by one L-shaped bar. There‘s a games area with pool and table football, which also doubles as a family room. The rest of the pub is pleasantly arranged, mostly for dining but those just wishing to enjoy a pint or two are made very welcome. There‘s an open fire and, on an historic point, there are two Heys leaded windows, a long defunct Bradford Brewery.

Old Heys Brewery window at the rear of the Airedale Hiefer, Sandbeds, KeighleyBridgehouse Brewery runs the outlet as a brewery tap. LocAle beers are Bridgehouse Blonde, Porter, Aired Ale and Holy Cow. Beers from the Old Bear brand are also featured as LocAle. Staff are very welcoming and knowledgeable about the Bridgehouse beers. Food is a big part of the pub with a varied menu and plenty of interesting dishes on the daily specials board. Live music features and families are always welcome.

Yearly beer festivals are held in the large car park at the rear of the pub and there is a pleasant south-facing garden with patio heaters. Families with children are most welcome as are well-behaved dogs.

The Airedale Heifer is a well-run and friendly pub, perfect for a few leisurely pints, an evening out with friends or a family celebration. Give it a try soon.

The Airedale Heifer, Bradford Road, Sandbeds BD20 5LY. Tel 01274 515870 Open: 12-11 or later. The Airedale Heifer is on bus routes 662 and 760.

View the Airedale Heifer on WhatPub.

The Bay Horse, Oxenhope

The Bay Horse, Oxenhope in winterIn the beautiful Worth Valley lies the village of Oxenhope. First documented in 1191 as Oxope and then Oxenhope by 1193, it probably meant Oxen Valley. Originally a hamlet of Haworth, by the mid-14th century it divided into Old Oxenhope (Lowertown) and Far Oxenhope (Uppertown). Today it is a pleasant community of around 2,500 souls. Many tourists venture into the village from the railway station which is at one end of the 5-mile heritage Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.

Uppertown, Oxenhope is where you‘ll find the Bay Horse Inn. A pub which not in the far past was under threat of permanent closure and possible change of use. EM Inns, a small West Yorkshire pub chain purchased it with the aim to return it to its community roots. Now managed by Annie and Steve, it‘s certainly on the right track. The pub is warm and welcoming with an open fire and is once again popular with locals. There‘s plenty of friendly banter around the single bar which serves a pleasantly decorated main room, a separate dining area up a small flight of stairs and a room with a pool table at the back of the pub. There‘s a good-sized car park and plenty of outside seating to enjoy the lovely Yorkshire scenery. The village cricket grounds are just around the corner from the pub.

The bar boasts five hand pumps, with regular LocAle beer Timothy Taylor Landlord. The other pumps host changing guest beers, many from local breweries such as Goose Eye, Naylor‘s, Bridgehouse and Slightly Foxed. Beers from breweries further afield also feature. The traditional real cider is from Holmfirth cider producer Pure North. Home-cooked food is available Tuesday to Sunday from 1pm to 6pm, with the Sunday roast served until it‘s gone! Veggie options are always available. Every Wednesday is open mic night. Families and dogs are most welcome.

Steve and Annie are off to a good start and, once they‘ve really got their feet under the table, the pub should go from strength to strength, attracting more locals and visitors as well. Find time to drop in for a pint and a chat, you‘ll find it a very pleasant experience.

The Bay Horse, 20 Uppertown, Oxenhope BD22 9LN Tel: 01535 642921 Open 3-11 Mon; Tue & Wed 12-11; Thu-Sat 12-12 or later; Sun 12-10.30 The Bay Horse is on bus route 500.

View the Bay Horse on WhatPub.

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