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Pub Visit - England

Puzzle Hall 1Saturday 31st August 2013

Bob Thompson

This pub certainly has some history. It was built as a private residence in 1628 and stayed that way for a hundred years or so until it became a pub. An important personality in its life was Lydia Platt. She had married Schofield Hainsworth in 1885 and in 1894 they became the licenses of the Puzzle Hall. A brewery was added in 1895 and in the same year her husband died.

She continued to operate the pub and remarried in the same year, this time to John Platt. She was the motivator in the partnership and submitted a plan to authorities to build a small tower brewery behind. This was constructed in 1905, please see the photograph. Some of the beer was bottled and was sold under the name of "Platts of Sowerby Bridge Labelled Beer".

John Platt died in October 1912 in an accident when he slipped off the brewery's roof. His wife continued running the pub until her death in 1921. In 1935 the pub was purchased by S.H. Ward & Co. of Sheffield and the brewery was closed. Up to 1950 the beers came from Sheffield by rail, the final delivery was by road from Sowerby Bridge station goods yard.

Puzzle Hall 2It was in the late 1970s that I first became acquainted with the pub. It was the most northerly outlet for Ward's Beers. This was in the days when they were still independent, before the take over by Vaux of Sunderland. Nowadays both breweries are closed and I believe the pub is owned by Pubmaster, assuming they still exist.

The ancestor of Ward's began brewing in Sheffield during 1837 and the original company was taken over by the magnificently named Septimus Henry Ward.

In 1876 he bought the Soho Brewery in the city and transferred brewing to its premises which was renamed as the Sheaf Brewery. Vaux Brewery of Sunderland took over in 1972 yet Ward's continued as a separate entity until 1999. It was then that Vaux was sold to a hotel company. Both breweries were closed and the pubs sold.

Inside the pub there is the main bar room and on the left there is a separate room with a stage area at one end. Both rooms have comfortable stuffed red settles around the walls. There is also an open fire in each one. Tables are of the round wooden type and have stools that face the walls.

Puzzle Hall 3The Puzzle Hall is a well known music venue and there are live bands on a number of days a week, especially Tuesday and Saturday. On Thursdays there is an open mic session and on Sunday it is the turn of acoustic music. Mondays are chess nights and there is a poetry night on the first Monday of the month. Thai food is served from Wednesday to Sunday from 17.00 to 21.00.

There are normally six beers offered and when I visited they were: Bradfield (High Bradfield, South Yorks) Farmer's Blonde (4.0%); Acorn Brewery (Barnsley, South Yorks) Barnsley Bitter (3.8%); Saltaire (Saltaire, West Yorks) Amarillo Gold (4.4%) and Stateside IPA (6.0%); Green Mill (then Rochdale, now Broadbottom, Greater Manchester) Stellar (4.0%) and finally Elland brewery (Elland, West Yorks) Best Bitter (4.0%). There was also Broad Oak (Clutton, Somerset) Moonshire Cider (7.5%) and Perry (7.5%).

Important Information:

The Puzzle Hall Inn, 21 Hollins Mill Lane, Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire HX6 2RF
Tel: 91422 835547

Open: Monday-Thursday 15.00-24.00; Friday 15.00-01.00;
Saturday 13.00-01.00; Sunday 13.00-23.30

From the railway station walk down Station Road, at the bottom turn right under the railway bridge. Cross to the opposite side of the road. Continue in the same direction, cross the River Calder and turn left into Hollins Mill Lane. The pub is on the left around 200 metres along. It should take less than ten minutes.

Sowerby Bridge is served by a Northern Rail service from Leeds to Manchester Victoria via Rochdale twice an hour. There is a Blackpool to York service that calls at nearby Hebden Bridge but not Sowerby Bridge. It is worth mentioning as it connects Preston, Blackburn, Bradford and Leeds.