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Branch chair Colleen presents the Pub of the Season Winter 2018/9 plaque to the staff at the Wuthering Heights, Stanbury, February 2019

Branch chair Colleen presents the Pub of the Season Winter 2018/9 plaque to Nicci and Darren at the Wuthering Heights, Stanbury, February 2019

The Old White Bear, Crosshills.

Presentation of plaqueOur Summer Pub Of The Season is a well-known favourite from the Aire valley – the Old White Bear at Cross Hills. It has won this award 4 times before, in Autumn of 1992, 1995, 2003 and Spring 2006. The ‘Laughing House’ as it is still ironically known used not to sell any real ale at all until the early 1990s when Allen Grzebisz arrived and installed the proper stuff. Since then it hasn‘t looked back under the stewardship of Bryan & Sandra Eastell, the Naylor family and, now, Neil & Mark Pickles, who took over here in November of 2006. The pub is managed by Dave Smith who has been manager here since 2003.

The Old White Bear is a substantial building on the Keighley Road in Cross Hills. Going right after you enter the front door there are a succession of rooms, ending in the restaurant at the right-hand end of the building. If you go straight on at the front door you will find yourself in the games room, where darts and ‘Ring the Bull’ can be played. The latter game involves swinging a metal ring hanging from the ceiling so it perches on the ‘Bull Hook’ attached to the wall. Some of the regulars have mastered the art of this to an astonishing degree. The lavatories are via the corridor which runs behind the bar and access to the seating area at the back of the pub is also via this corridor. As a result of the smoking ban there is now a covered area for smokers out the back. There are also seats outside the front next to the main road.

At present there is no brewing taking place on the premises as Naylor‘s Brewery relocated to Midland Mills in Cross Hills during the Winter of 2006/7 because they didn‘t have enough brewing capacity at the pub. The pub dates from 1735 and some of the beams in the ceiling are reckoned to come from Admiral Sheffield‘s ship, the Old White Bear, which took part in battles against the Spanish armada. The building has been a hotel, brothel, council meeting room and a dance hall in its earlier roles. Early meetings concerning the building of the nearby Leeds to Liverpool canal were held here. In the Summer there are very attractive hanging baskets outside the pub, courtesy of Bryan Eastell whose business is not far away towards Colne. The Cross Hills Rotary Club has recently started meetings here every Monday evening and there is the long-standing quiz on Thursday nights, plus darts & doms on Mondays during the season.

Such was the popularity of Naylor‘s beers that they remain on the bar even though the brewery is no longer on site. The beers normally on sale are Pinnacle Bitter, Pale and Blonde, all from Naylor‘s, plus Pinnacle Porter fairly regularly, or a beer of similar strength. They are all remarkably good value for money, despite the recent budget. There are five handpumps in all. The Pickles brothers source the food from local suppliers and have just taken on Helen Garside as 2nd chef. The pub‘s T-shirts are also printed locally.

The pub opens at 11.30 A.M. through to 11 P.M. Food is served between 12 and 2.30 at lunchtime and between 6 and 9 in the evening from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday food is available between 12 and 9.

Fred Baker

Photograph: Branch secretary Fred Baker presents the plaque to Manager Dave Smith flanked by owners Neil (on left) and Mark Pickles.

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