Wednesday, 5 March 2014


Otley has long been noted for its fine pubs and at one time there were some 30 such establishments in the town, amazing for a small town of some 14,000 inhabitants but as a market town the old licensing laws decreed that the pubs could be licensed to open all day on market days. 

Nowadays there are just 18 pubs left.

An amusing old postcard once circulating in Otley, referred to
30 pubs in the town :

" Having an hour to spend in Otley the other evening I thought I would take a ramble round the town, and my attention was immediately attracted by a beautiful SUMMER CROSS upon which THREE HORSE SHOES were nailed, guarded by a RED LION, which stood near a FOUNTAIN, where a groom named GEORGE, wearing a BLUE BELL in his coat, who came from the MANOR HOUSE called the WHARFEDALE, was giving a WHITE HORSE, a BAY HORSE and a BLACK HORSE a drink; while a handsome WHITE SWAN, NEW INN the water, was swimming gracefully about. Turning round I saw a WHEATSHEAF standing under the shade of a ROYAL OAK, which sheltered the LEEDS HOUSE. Hearing a shout, I looked up and saw a man who had stolen a ROSE AND CROWN bearing the stamp of the QUEEN'S HEAD, running across the BOWLING GREEN pursued by a crowd of people and a butcher with a BLACK BULL. He tried to effect a JUNCTION with his mate, a conjurer, who was juggling with two CROSS PIPES and a COCK AND BOTTLE, but failing in his attempt ran straight in to the MASON'S ARMS, who was coming out of the DRAMSHOP with a heavy WOOLPACK on his shoulders made from a FLEECE of a prize sheep; and with the sound of the RING OF BELLS ringing merrily in my ears, I retired to rest aided by the light of the HALF MOON and the evening STAR."

Of these, 13 are still open and a further 6 current pubs are not mentioned. 8 more closed pubs are not mentioned.

The following 18 pubs in alphabetical order, are still trading :


The Bay Horse  at 20 Market Place was probably built in the mid 1700's. A passageway at the side of the pub leads to Bay Horse Court where the stable building is still standing. The court is now occupied by a number of small retail shops.
A  former Tetley house, this is a traditional two roomed pub serving Yorkshire Ales and bar snacks.
The building to the right of the photograph is the former Melbourne Vaults pub which closed in 1973.

                                        Previously a Tetley house

The Black Bull Inn is one of the oldest buildings in The Market Place and dating back to the 16th century is reputed to be the oldest pub in Otley. The inside of this traditional pub, which is below street level, has original stone floors and low oak beams and a fine 16th century stone fireplace. This unspoilt pub offers four cask ales and lunchtime food.

Visited by Cromwell's troops in the 1648.
Previously a Tetley house

There is an 18th century pump and well in an open yard at the rear of the pub thought to be the last surviving pump in Otley.


The Black Horse Hotel in Westgate at the junction with Kirkgate has long been a fine coaching inn providing accommodation for travellers well back into the 19th century, as it does today. It was built in its present style in 1901 after the older pub dating back to c1821 had been demolished. The building was refurbished in 1995 and again in 2011 but original characteristics were retained. Apart from providing six cask ales and pub food, it operates a Chinese  Restaurant in the evenings. The pub also has nine en-suite letting bedrooms.


The Bowling Green in Bondgate is a Grade 11 listed building. It was actually built in 1757 as a Court House and was known as the Assembly Rooms until 1825. It became an inn about that time and records show that the innkeeper in 1830 was John Rowland. Since 2010 it has been a Wetherspoon's Inn and they added a tasteful extension at the rear and with its outside table area at the front this popular pub has fine views onto The Chevin.
The pub serves a wide range of beers and food.

The Bridge  in Bridge Street is Otley's newest pub which opened in 2011.
Originally it was a doctor's surgery which devolved into retail premises. In 2000 it became a wine bar but the owner's went into administration in 2009. It closed in 2011 and was reopened soon afterwards as a conventional pub where cask ale is available.

The Cross Pipes in Westgate was built in 1762 as two cottages and an inn. One cottage was subsequently incorporated into the inn whilst the other was demolished. It was the last inn in Otley to brew its own beer with a malt house and stables at the rear. Ghostly experiences have been reported at this inn.
Cask ales and bar snacks are available.

The Fleece  in Westgate was originally The Golden Fleece and changed its name in 1861.  Eight cask ales and pub food is available. There is a nice beer garden at the rear facing onto the river.

The Horse and Farrier  in Bridge Street was originally a 17th century farm house. When it became a pub it was called the Three Horse Shoes, probably because of the old smithy was next door. It was refurbished in 2010 and was opened in its present name by Market Town Taverns.
Eight cask ales are available together with brassiere meals.


The Junction  in Bondgate stands, as its name suggest, at the junction with
Charles Street, Crow Lane and Gay Lane. In 1851 it was known as The Ring Of Bells but in 1852 it had changed to its present name.  After several years as a Business in Bloom contestant, the pub was awarded a gold plaque for its attractive hanging baskets and beer garden.
This popular pub has eleven cask beers available together with sixty malt whiskey's but no food is served. Popular with live bands.
An interesting feature of this pub is that it originally had a corner doorway.

The Manor House in Cross Green at the junction with Walkergate was first licensed in the mid 19th century. Noted for real ales and real fires this terrace pub is a popular music venue. Five cask ales are available together with pub food.

The Old Cock in Crossgate only opened in 2010. The building was built in 1755 as two small cottages which were converted into one cottage in the late 19th century. It later had a variety of commercial uses until it became The Cock, whilst retaining many original features such as stone floors and mullioned
This pub which has been named Leeds Camra pub of the year several times, serves some eight cask ales and bar snacks.

The Otley Tavern in Newmarket. On refurbishment in 2013 it changed its name from The Ring O' Bells as it had been called from 1895.  It has also been called Traveller's Rest and Welcome Inn.  Originally built as three cottages possibly dating back to the mid 18th century, it subsequently became a lodging house of itinerants.
Local cask ales are available.

The Red Lion in Kirkgate dates from the mid 18th century.
The pub provides cask ales from local suppliers and home made food
from local traders

The Roebuck in Roebuck Terrace over the river and up on the Blubberhouses Road and dates back to the mid 19th century.
It is known locally as 'The Spite' due to an incident which involved this pub and the adjacent former pub, the Traveller's Rest. Apparently a Traveller's Rest regular called at The Roebuck first and when he went next door the landlady refused to serve him saying that if he could call at the other pub first he could go back there. The man said that it was "nowt but spite and malice" and the two names stuck. The Roebuck was refurbished in 2011 and boasts a fine beer garden with views over Otley.

The Rose & Crown in Bondgate was built in 1731 probably as a farmhouse - a haystack fire in the yard was reported in 1873.  The first known licensee was in 1821.  A 2ft long iron cross was discovered on an outside wall in the 1970's may be a Corn Cross. An unusual cricket bat hangs in the bar, made of one piece of wood of extra width and painted splice. There is a Rose & Crown painted on the blade together with several scratched names and may have been made for a charity cricket match but its age is not known. The pub which still has that rustic feel about it, and which has been extended into an adjoining cottage, serves four cask ales and pub meals. A disco is held at the weekends.

Possibly a corn cross

The White Swan in Boroughgate has a date stone of 1901 and was probably rebuilt or extended at that time on an earlier foundation. Previously called The Swan, it is thought that the left side of the pub was probably built some 250 years ago. It was once a coaching inn with stables and oastler's house in a cobbled yard behind the premises.
The pub serves cask ales but no food.  It is a popular venue for Otley Folk Festival events.



Stable yard

The Whitaker's Arms  in Kirkgate dates to c1811 but the building is much earlier. It was built before the Red Lion which it adjoins it, the last pub 'pairing' in Otley. It has also been known as Dram Shop, Kirkgate Vaults and Quiet John's Vaults. It is claimed that the pub cellar has a tunnel entrance which once lead to the parish church but in reality probably led at an adjoining cellar.
It was purchased by Wm Whitaker & Co, Wine & Spirit Merchants in 1904 from which the name derives.
The pub serves seven cask ales and home made food sourced locally.


The Yew Tree in Newall Carr Road is a 17th century extended farm house which opened as a pub in 1971. It was refurbished in 1989. The pub serves four cask ales and a Sunday carvery.


1 comment:

rabid_dobson said...

Thanks, Roy. Lived in Otley around early 60's and remembered a Postcard which I had lost regarding Otley's pubs. Stayed in Horse & Farrier last week and visited a few pubs - great memories