A visit to lovely Haworth is always a treat. The legacy of the Brontes underpins the long-term survival of its cobbled streets and quintessentially Yorkshire stone buildings, insulating the community against the careless ravages of redevelopment.
The Fleece sits alongside Haworth’s dramatically sloping main street, offering a welcome haven for those in search of decent pub food and traditional hand-pulled beer. The name Timothy Taylor above the inn sign and picked out in gold lettering on the windows is a reliable guarantee of quality.
Legend has it that Branwell Bronte drank here too; some say the ghost of the sisters’ ill-starred artist brother lingers here still.
Trudy Pilmoor has been here for three and a half years, though it’s the fifth pub she has run for the Keighley brewery. “I can’t imagine being with any other company,” she says, pointing the way to a bar topped with a familiar quintet of their beers: Boltmaker, Ram Tam, Golden Best, Dark Mild – and lovely, rounded, firm Yorkshire best bitter Landlord.
Perhaps it’s consequence of their recent change of head brewer, but Taylor’s are now embracing some changes to that portfolio. A smaller microbrewery plant on site has allowed them to edge towards the craft beer market, the first product being the rich, dark, coffee and chocolate accented Fezziwig’s Porter. And the main brew range has been expanded with the bright new Knowle Spring Blonde. “Blonde beers have been really big for years now and finally Taylor’s have done one,” laughs Trudy.
More controversially, the brewery is slowly upgrading its pumpclips; that instantly-recognisable wheatsheaf logo may soon be ditched altogether in favour of a modern look which is more in keeping with the funky designs used by many of the brewers in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace. For me, that’s a shame, and possibly a big mistake, not least because it could actually make Taylor’s beers harder to spot.
For now though, they remain a reliable, identifiable fixture on any bar, and it’s a pint of Landlord which accompanies my multi-cultural dinner of crispy vegetable spring rolls followed by the roiling hot swamp of meat, tomato and peppers of my chicken madras. After a rich, thick mushroom soup, my partner goes for the prawn, spinach and salmon risotto from the specials board, beautifully presented and with lots of prawns.
This hearty dining is a hallmark of Taylor’s pubs and here a menu of pies, steaks, sausage and burgers – as well as plenty of vegetarian choices – should please most people.
It certainly helps to draw in the tourists in a town which attracts thousands, chiefly those who are drawn by their love of Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights. Further events, like the Tours de France and Yorkshire, a forthcoming visit by the Flying Scotsman and the filming of the recent Swallows and Amazons remake, each keep trade healthy at the Fleece.
The pub used to share the premises with the local brass band, but now they have moved away, creating extra space where Trudy plans to extend her bed and breakfast accommodation from the existing seven rooms to ten.
As you step in from the Victorian streetscape, the long bar is dead ahead with the pub’s main drinking and dining spaces down to your left. A wood burning stove between two of the rooms provides light, heat and that lovely feeling of cosy intimacy.
The decor is dominated by shades of coffee, cream and chocolate, while heavy curtains, interesting lanterns on the ceilings and windowsills and some archive photographs of old Haworth each lend their own sense of antiquity to the place.
Address: Main Street, Haworth
Host: Trudy Pilmoor
Opening Hours: 11am-11pm Mon-Thur, 11am-11.30pm Fri-Sat, 11am-10.30am Sun
Beers: Five Timothy Taylor handpulled ales including Landlord (£3.65), Boltmaker (£3.40) and Golden Best (£3.30) plus Carlsberg (£3.90), Carling (£3.90), Warsteiner (£4.30), Erdinger (£4.40), Guinness (£3.85)
Food: Wide-ranging pub menu and specials available noon-9pm Mon-Sat and noon-8pm Sun
Entertainment: Games machine, free wifi and occasional special events
Telephone: 01535 642172