Recovering from a heart stressing afternoon at the Etihad, I spent Saturday night in Bradford. The Ibis Budget is a poor sub for Travelodge, but cheap and central.
This must have been my first trip to Bradford without a curry; I’d overdosed on Spinach & Beef at This’n’That in Manchester, and even the Kashmir wasn’t going to compare.
Bradford isn’t just cheap and curry-laden, it has some marvellous architecture and museums. For a city of half a million, it’s central area has looked shabby for decades though. There are great hopes for the imminent Broadway Shopping Centre, which seems to lack the glamour of the other Westfield Centres, but does at least have shops that people will use. It may even kick start some overdue development in Little Germany.
I didn’t even revisit North Parade, Bradford’s small street of beer cafes. The Sparrow and Record Cafe are Northern Quarter, if not Port Street, standards, but it does seem to focus a lot of the City’s drinking in one small place.
Instead, I walked the 3 miles to Shipley, not to be fair a classic walk, to visit a couple of Beer Guide newies. Near the station, the Fox is a micropub closer in style and customer base to the Treacle Tap than the middle-aged gathering points in Thanet, but no worse for that. The Phoenix Honey Porter was OK (NBSS 3). Halloween tat dominated.
Ignoring the charms of the Shipley Pride, which used to be a Beer Guide regular when serving Osset in the 90s, I joined a great mixed crowd in Fanny’s Ale House, an old favourite. The Tim Taylor Landlord was superb (NBSS 4), which it rarely is anymore. The gas-lamps, fire and Bass mirrors are alone worth a trip here. Plenty of real ale, including the Black Rat I’m seeing everywhere, was being drunk.
This is actually Saltaire now, and Salts Mill loomed large as I ended at the Hop, Ossett Brewery’s highly successful take on a fun pub. Like the Hop pubs in Leeds and Sheffield, this was attracting a young crowd, though probably drinking rather less Ossett beers than helpful; the Blonde was dull (NBSS 2).
Not a bad night, but the real star in Bradford’s crown showed itself in the morning when I finally stumbled on Lister Park and Art Gallery; both among the best in the UK,and completely overshadowed by the Media Museum.