30 : The Old Ship Inn, Brighouse

The Old Ship Inn. 34, Bethel Street, Brighouse HD6 1JN 01484 719543

The Old Ship Inn is a bit of a misnomer : it is neither old, nor a ship, nor - if the strict definition, which implies accommodation, is used - an inn. Looking from the outside, you could be excused for thinking it was old : it's Elizabethan timbers and mullioned windows scream out antiquity. But the building isn't Elizabethan, in fact it is less than a hundred years old. The first beerhouse on the site can be traced back to the 1830s and by the 1870s it had taken the popular pub name "The Prince Of Wales", During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century it was just another of the numerous pubs in the small West Yorkshire town of Brighouse. It had no great claim to fame other than it acquired a somewhat insalubrious reputation and there were several attempts by the local magistrates to close it down. The magistrates were not successful, but in 1924 the town planners were and the pub was pulled down to make way for a road widening project. 

The old pub had come under the ownership of Halifax brewer Samuel Webster and the brewery decided that a replacement pub should be a distinctive part of the local scene. The current mock-tudor architectural design was chosen and a measure of authenticity was provided by the use of timbers and panelling from the old wooden battleship HMS Donegal (American readers might like to note that in November 1865 the Donegal took the last surrender of the American Civil War when the CSS Shenandoah surrendered to her captain). Despite the use of ship's timbers and the fact that it was known locally as "The Battleship", the name of the pub remained the Prince Of Wales until 2007. In that year the old Prince of Wales closed down and, following an extensive refurbishment, reopened as the Old Ship Inn. The "new" Old Ship has an extensive lunchtime menu and a wide choice of beers (including several guest ales), and has become a local CAMRA favourite.

Inside, it has a bit of an eclectic feel about it : the wooden panelling is Victorian, the tables are mock-Georgian and the stone floors look as though they are straight out of an MFI catalogue. The open-plan bar must work well when the pub is crowded, but when it is nine-tenths empty (as it was during my visit) it has a cavernous feel about it. But for somewhere which is not old, not a ship, and not an inn, it is not a bad place at all to enjoy a half-decent pint..

The half-pint I had was a pint of Telegraph which is brewed locally by the Slaithwaite-based Empire Brewery. It was one of those new blonde beers which I always think are brewed to appeal to a generation raised on lager. The taste of the 4.1% ABV brew was amiable enough, although not particularly distinctive.

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