Bradford – Sunbridge Wells (Wallers Brewery)

This is a slightly complex venue which is today a series of underground pubs and bars of various types. Originally this was built as a quarry in the thirteenth century, later becoming a dungeon and the largest air raid shelter in the city during the Second World War. In the 1960s it was turned into a nightclub which was operated by Shirley Crabtree (better known as the wrestler Big Daddy) although that lasted less than a year before the authorities had it closed down. Then the site was used as a dump for rubbish, which wasn’t ideal.

A few years ago vast amounts of material were removed from the cellars (the stuff dumped there in the 1970s which included a lot of heavy rubble) so that they could be opened up for public access. Hence the pubs and clubs that are here now. The two photos above are of the two entrances to the vaults, with each of the individual freeholds having to be repurchased following their sale in the mid-twentieth century.

The entrance corridor, suitably slightly haunting.

Photos of the descent down to the ground floor. Apparently the local museum has helped to provide some of the items displayed on the wall, all of which have added some real character.

I only visited one venue in the complex, as that was the only one that seemed open when I visited and also the only one that is listed on CAMRA’s Whatpub (some others are listed, but they’re marked as permanently closed). It’s a quirky venue, but it’d be hard not to be when you’re at the bottom of a complex like this. It’s a large pub and some people may say that there’s a very slight feel of damp, but I call that atmosphere. And who wants generic and sterile piffle. Back to the beer, I went for the Maiden Voyage from Bosun’s Brewery and it was entirely agreeable.

There has been some controversy about this place and apparently some arguments between the tenants and landlords that I don’t understand and don’t really need to. However, it’s an interesting location to visit and definitely recommended. And it makes sense to have a beer when exploring, so a win-win. And here’s a BBC local news story about the opening a few years ago……