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Fred Baker presents the Pub of the Season Summer 2017 plaque to the staff at the Boat House, Skipton, July 2017

Fred Baker presents the Pub of the Season Summer 2017 plaque to the staff at the Boat House, Skipton, July 2017

The Old White Bear, Crosshills

At the beginning of 2005 major changes took place at the Old White Bear in Cross Hills. Following the departure for pastures new (well, Keighley, actually) by Ian Cowling and his Old Bear brewing equipment there were those of us left wondering what future now for the pub?

Fred presenting the award

We shouldn’t have worried. The Naylor family (mother Brenda and her sons Stephen and Robert) who had been running the pub since 2001, decided that they wanted to have a go. They got new brewing equipment installed and started up Naylor’s Brewery. The first beer produced was Naylor’s Best (3.9%) and went on sale in February 2005, only at the pub. In fact there was a condition that the beer be restricted to being available at the Old White Bear at that time. To make our ‘Mild Trail’ more interesting that year they produced Naylor’s Finest Mild which was on sale during May’s month-long trail. The aforementioned restriction was lifted on 1st July and the brewery rapidly started marketing their beers elsewhere. By then Mother’s Best (3.9%) had appeared at the pub. The brothers then had the idea of ‘characters’ featuring in their beers. Locals from the pub gave rise to beers called Sparky’s Monday Night Mild (3.4%), Stoney’s Trippel ‘S’ (4.3%) and Roger’s Who Sang Challenger (4.8%) which started to appear in other outlets, including the Cock & Bottle and Fighting Cock (both in Bradford) and the Brown Cow and Livery Rooms (Keighley). These beers are unmistakeable on the bar as each pump clip features a caricature of the person inspiring the beer’s name, done with panache by a local artist. Since then Eric’s Well Read Bitter, Dave’s Waterloo Sunset and Gonzo’s Black Porter, amongst others, have been brewed and well received.

To return to the pub itself. There had also been a restriction of only one of the adjoining brewery’s beers being sold at any one time, this going back to the early days of Old Bear Brewery. Happily, this unnecessary trade restriction has now been lifted and you are likely to find 2 or 3 Naylor’s beers on the bar when you call in, alongside guest ales and a real cider or perry. The pub is a large building on Keighley Road passed by the Keighley to Colne buses (though not after 8ish). Skipton to Keighley buses pass nearby through the centre of the village, including evenings. It is a major centre for local sports teams, including the local cricket team, two football teams and the pub’s own darts and doms team. Note also the ‘Ring the Bull’ in the games room. There are no less than 5 rooms (some non-smoking) now available to the public, plus outside seating at front and a bit to the rear. Children and dogs are welcome if well-behaved.

The building dates from 1735 and has been, in its time, a hotel, brothel, council meeting room and a dance hall. Early meetings concerning the building of the nearby Leeds to Liverpool canal were held here.

The Old White Bear is open all day from 11.30 A.M. every day. Food is served between noon and 2.30 P.M. then between 6 P.M. and 9 P.M. and is all home-made quality food at reasonable pub prices.

This is the second time that the Naylors have won ‘Pub Of The Season’ at the Old White Bear, the previous occasion being in Autumn 2003. Why not come along for a most convivial evening when we present the Spring award?

Fred Baker

The Pub of the Season, Spring 2006 presentation was on Tuesday 14th March.

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