Old social network declines at a stately pace
Letter of the Week: Tim Wood, The Old Colonial, Mirfield
This week saw yet another of the area’s iconic pubs disappear as a local landmark.
The Swan, at Shepley Bridge, built in 1755, astride the border of Dewsbury and Mirfield, is now a pile of rubble.
A thousand years of proper social networking in our taverns, inns, coachouses, pubs and clubs is slowly but steadily in unstoppable decline on a national basis.
The Swan was a coaching inn on one of the many packhorse routes to cross the Pennines. When the Calder and Hebble Navigation Canal was completed in 1797ish, the Swan served the canal basin transport system that fed the Industrial Revolution.
The nearby Shepley Marina was a prominent boat and barge-building centre, and an important resting place for the barges and horses. The Swan was conveniently placed 100 yards away to serve them well.
In recent times I worked there as DJ and part-time quiz master for licensees Keith and Jean Greenwood, and latterly Peter and Angie Harrison. The pub was the busiest for miles around, and for nearly two decades was in its pomp.
Danny Lockwood, the owner of this newspaper, used to ably assist on the DJ stand on occasions.
He was very popular with the licensees, not only did he bring a rugby team with him (Dewsbury Celtic), but he could sup his DJ fee on the night: The only self-financing musical turn I have ever come across in almost 40 years.
Later on in 1994, I took the tenancy of the nearby Bulls Head, on Huddersfield Road, Ravensthorpe. The area was well supported with pubs and drinkers alike.
The Ravensthorpe Run on New Year’s Eve was a popular pub crawl not to be missed, which pre-dated the Golden Mile of Bradford Road, Batley: The Old Albion, Rosie’s Bar, Royal, Station Hotel, New Albion, Ravensthorpe WMC, Ravensthorpe Hotel, Sheridans, Bulls Head and The Swan.
It was a working class triumph for the sociable masses.
Only two remain in the area; The Royal and the Bulls Head. Barclay’s Private Member’s Club on North Road closed last year due to the owner’s retirement.
So, what’s gone wrong with our local pubs? As I can see it, industry in the area has declined so, therefore, has the workforce who had the spending power.
The Asian community has expanded and they excuse alcohol on religious grounds.
Duty prices are still far too high to be a credible form of indirect taxation; pub CEOs have greedily mismanaged some outlets.
Our community local is alive and well on TV – the Queen Vic, The Woolpack and the Rovers’ Return – although the producers and scriptwriters of Coronation Street openly admit they are hanging on to audiences by painting a rosy picture of the type of community that was about 25 years ago.
What I think is the biggest factor in the pub’s decline, is linked to the TV or computer screen. Pubs were once the social meeting place for people to catch up on life, and talk about all manner of things.
Now there’s Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and as the digital generation catch up at the speed of light, the old social pub network declines at a sedately pace.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. There is a piece of multiple processing kit that’s been about over millions of years, and it’s encouraging people to see things in the real world; it’s called the human
Argument for immigration?
From: Stephen Cass, Mirfield
In the previous but one edition of The Press you published a letter of mine in which I addressed the issue of immigration and its effect on British society.
My conclusion based on my own understanding and observation was that immigration to Britain has provided no substantial benefits and instead has done much harm.
Of course my conclusion is not necessarily the correct one, and I’d hoped that the following week’s Press would contain a response from someone in the pro-immigration camp putting right my misunderstanding.
Sadly my hope proved unfounded.
Not that I was expecting a reply from Paula Sherriff saying how much immigration has benefited the Labour Party, its gerrymandering immigration policy designed cynically to provide Labour with a ready made voting block. That would have been expecting too much.
But I was hoping that maybe one of your occasional immigrationist correspondents would find the courage to put forward the argument for immigration. Why are these people so reluctant to state their case? What’s the matter, cat got their tongues?
From: John Appleyard, Liversedge
When Stephen Cass asks what immigrants have done for us (Forum 26/06/15) he should remember the Indians, Chinese and African soldiers and those from Australia, Canada and New Zealand soldiers who fought with us in the First World War.
In the Second World War thousands of muslim soldiers died fighting for British rights and liberties in the defeat of fascism, maybe Mr Cass has a problem with that?
You voted for the tarmac...
From: Derek Cartwight, Soothill
It’s TARCAK – Time And Repeat Community Announcements (in) Kirklees.
The cack may be an offensive term for excrement, but that’s what I think the council think of its residents – we are a misguided nuisance that don’t appreciate what they do for us.
Having said that, why would anyone now complain about all the housing planned for around Soothill?
Sorry, you voted Labour, you voted for the 30,000 or the previous 20,000 houses they planned for you.
Were you in the council chamber objecting to housing in Soothill? Did you march in protest, or sign the petition for not building on the other side of Leeds Road?
Well, you may not have known it but their written submission to the council called for building on these fields.
Were you there when the independent inspector tossed out the Local Development Plan as it was not evidence-based and insufficient communication with neighbouring councils had taken place?
Did you object in the last consultation exercise? No? Then why are you complaining now when it is almost too late?
Don’t forget these houses are only part of the massive development around the area.
Who can you object to – your councillors and your MP? No, they are Labour, and the party has been in favour of these developments.
I have objected to almost all these developments (we started out objecting to the Grange Road industrial development; that was not meant to go ahead – the housing got through by trickery) for over 20 years.
I have pointed out year after year that the employment numbers in Kirklees from their Fact Sheets do not substantiate the view that the housing developments are sustainable.
Then I ask why has Kirklees’ population increased by so much if, as Kirklees state, employment opportunities have not increased?
What does this say about immigrants living on benefits, but then who are all these houses for?
Oh, and don’t forget the last Labour government said people could not live long-term on benefits – that was not just the coalition, let alone the Conservatives. Oh well, as Khan said (no, not Star Trek, but the council leader) it’s ‘aspirational’ ... or was that inspirational, I can never remember what he actually said. Labour could tell us it is all a dream.
Oh well, you voted for the tarmac on Soothill. That’s now the bottom line. Don’t complain now you had your chance in the elections.
It would cost serious money to put in an evidence based objection to the Secretary of State, which seems the last stop in the process, as they seem to have now by-passed the independent inspector.
He knew the rules
From: Alan Burton (Con, Battyeford)
In The Press last week you ran a piece by Mr Hutchinson of the Labour Party titled ‘political spite’.
It seems the spite is very one-sided. Mr Hutchinson is being disingenuous in stating he didn’t have details of the administrator or the Mirfield Town Council email address.
As an ex-teacher, he surely would know how to use a search engine. This would have given him the town council address. He could have done said search in Mirfield or Canada, as an ex-councillor he would know the rules.
Perhaps he was upset by not polling as well as he expected. What I do know, is after espousing how unnecessary the town council was, he and his cohorts decided to fight for seats last May.
I applaud them for doing so, Coun Bunting is a welcome addition to the chamber. Young blood is welcome, it means I will be able to stand down sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile Mr Hutchinson’s vanity project will cost the town valuable funds which could be used for community projects rather than a by-election.
From: Joyce Lister, Thornhill
It has now been confirmed by reading the Tory activist, Philip Tolson’s letter that Conservatives are against education, that’s why they have made university fees so high.
Those students who work hard and pass will be accused of class-ridden education snobbery by pretensions of often useless academic grandeur.
The Labour Party have always been keen that a good education is open to all, and not just to the rich. Harold Wilson, educated at Oxford before becoming a Don, brought in the ‘Open University’ when he became the Labour Prime Minister. Go on Philip, have a go if you dare.
I’m not surprised they were verbally abused on the doorsteps; most likely by the disabled and others who had suffered from the cruel bedroom tax. They can expect even more abuse if they dare knock on doors again, as it’s just been announced that those in social housing who earn more than £30,000 a year will have to pay thousands more for their rents.
So, if a couple earn £15,000 a year each, which is roughly the minimum wage, they will be penalised.
How can Tolson dare put labels on people by calling some blue collar workers as if they are somehow inferior?
Typical Tories; always trying to undermine people and keeping them down.
From: Brian Johnson, Mirfield
I read with interest in last week’s Press that Kirklees intend spending £100m on certain road projects.
The current parlous state of our roads should surely dictate that any spare funding be used to repair what we already have.
Kirklees seem hell-bent on throwing our money at headline projects whilst ignoring what should be routine maintenance.
Let’s face it, only an idiot would build an extension when the rest of the house was about to fall down, but then again when did common sense ever invade the minds of our local government officials?