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Pub oozes Bronte history

JAIQ Carter did not have to think twice when given the chance to run the Black Bull in Haworth.

Not only did she love the historic inn with its Bronte connections, but it took her back to her roots.

“I grew up in Haworth and as a teenager I helped my grandad in the village Conservative Club. He was the steward and I helped him with bar work,” she said.

“I had wanted to run the Black Bull for the best part of a decade and then I had a phone call asking if I would consider taking the job.”

That call came from Mark Kelly, managing director at Bridgehouse Brewery, which owns pubs across the north of England, including the Black Bull. “I had worked for him before and when he said it was the Black Bull I pretty much bit his hand off. I was working in Bournemouth at the time and was excited to be returning to West Yorkshire.”

Dating back to the 16th century, when the inn was a coaching stop on one of the main north country turnpikes, the Black Bull stands at the top of Haworth’s cobbled Main Street.

“In the mid-1700s one of the toll gates was here,” said Jaiq, a former art teacher who has worked “on and off” in the hospitality industry for more than 30 years “Now people walk up Main Street and when they reach us they have a drink and admire the lovely views across the valley.”

For Bronte devotees the inn is a must. “Branwell Bronte used to get his laudanum - a tincture of opium - at the apothecary across the street (now Cabinet of Curiosities) then come to the pub,” explained Jaiq. “He would sit in a spot next to the fireplace and ring a bell - both of which are still here.”

Often family members would come looking for him, but Branwell was able to escape through the rabbit warren of rooms at the hostelry.

The layout has changed since those days, as well as the décor, which is now fresh and stylish, while retaining the olde-worlde character that visitors love.

The pub was refurbished a year ago, including its four en-suite bed and breakfast rooms, which have been tastefully decorated to retain their rustic charm.

One of the stylish rooms, the Emily Room, overlooks the graveyard at Haworth Church and is very close to the grave of the last highwayman to be hanged in England, James Sutcliffe

It found fame as 'Room 3' which featured heavily on the show Most Haunted. “It is actually one of my favourite rooms," said Jaiq. "Despite its graveyard proximity and most haunted reputation, both myself and a former landlady agree that this room is one of the most peaceful and relaxing rooms at the Black Bull.”

Talented head chef Josh Szydelko mans the kitchen, creating “modern classics” including the popular herb-crusted beef fillet and scallops served with black pudding, apple gel and lemon balm, served in Branwell’s Restaurant.

“It is a nice, cosy little spot, separated from the main bar area,” said Jaiq. “This is very much a food destination and, along with the bed and breakfast, is a key focus for me.”

Beers brewed at Bridgehouse are served at the inn, alongside others. “At the moment we have five Bridgehouse beers, including the new one White Bear which is very pale and citrusy. We also do porter, IPA, bitter and blonde.”

The pub’s location and history brings tourists from across the world, in particular Japan and the USA, as well as people from the local area.

Jaiq plans to invite local musicians to perform low-key singer/songwriter sessions, poetry readings and comedy, which will be paired with dinner. In the new year an invitation only upper club will be starting.

She loves her job, in particular seeing customers relax and have a good time. “They walk around Haworth and come here for a meal and a drink and leave with a big smile on their faces - that makes my job very rewarding.”

*The Black Bull, 119 Main St, Haworth, Keighley BD22 8DP W:theblackbullhaworth.co.uk

*Food is served Wednesday to Sunday; bed & breakfast is available all week.