Pubs served communities ...

A traditional pig roasting celebrating the coronation of King George V on June 22, 1911. Norwood Green, at the the row of imposing Victorian houses just below the White Beare.
A traditional pig roasting celebrating the coronation of King George V on June 22, 1911. Norwood Green, at the the row of imposing Victorian houses just below the White Beare.

Looking at this pre 1st World War (c1905 – licensee Joseph Brook) photograph of the Old White Bear Inn at Norwood Green, it is difficult to see it being the same Old White Beare Pub and Restaurant of today.

Norwood Green like most villages has had a number of public houses but with changing times and drinking habits and drinking legislation, the number of establishments has fallen.

The Old White Beare Inn, pre World War One, in Norwood Green

The Old White Beare Inn, pre World War One, in Norwood Green

It is sad that this is happening to our smaller communities with village pubs closing in large numbers right across the UK. And their closure often leaves a big hole in community life.

Older pub goers have abandoned many of our town and city centres to the younger folks, choosing instead to go elsewhere, and for many that would often mean a quiet village pub.

The days of what is often referred to as ‘vertical –drinking’ is, in many pubs, quickly becoming a thing of the past with more and more drinking space being given over to an eating section.

In Norwood Green there are now just the two pubs, the Pear Tree in Station Road being the other remaining one.

However, the village could boast having not just those two but two others, the Lane End Inn which stood at the Village Street and Sowden Lane junction and the Coley Mill Inn or Wheel ‘Oile.

The Old White Beare derives its name from a ship which was part of the English fleet and was built to be just one of the many flagships ships to take on the mighty Spanish Armada.

It was a 40 gun ship launched in 1564 and weighed in at 900 tons and carried 350 mariners, 30 gunners and 120 soldiers.

In 1585 following some repairs, it was recommissioned under Lord Howard of Effingham and three years later saw action again against the Armada. In 1599 it was rebuilt as a 57 gun royal ship.

The White Beare was in service until 1627 when after 63 years it was deemed as being unfit for further duties and was sold in Rochester on the June 12, 1629.

Once sold it was dismantled and some of its timbers were re-sold and then used to help re-build a burnt out alehouse on an old packhorse route which ran through North Wood Green, as it was then known and situated between Halifax and Leeds. Today that route is Village Street .

The present building dates from 1742 and the main beam through the rebuilding is said to be from the ship and the door into the Snug from the cabin of the ship’s Captain.

The cottages behind the pub which now form an intricate part of the restaurant were a brew house. Some of the equipment from that brew house was later removed and incorporated into the brew house at Shibden Hall.

The Old White Beare as it has been spelt for many years, being in such a prominent position in the village would have served its village customers well over the generations and would have played an important part in many village celebrations both local and national ones.

One of its most recent ones was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Fete in June, but over the years the local residents have celebrated many others special occasions as well.

In the second of our featured photographs a traditional pig roasting was taken at the coronation celebrations of King George V on June 22, 1911. Norwood Green residents will I am sure be able to identify the location of this scene quite easily, but to casual visitors it is directly opposite the row of imposing Victorian houses just below the White Beare.