From public house to a private home

Flightless: the Bird I'th Hand pub
Flightless: the Bird I'th Hand pub

A PUB known as the last in Calderdale can be turned into a house, council planners have agreed.

The Bird I’th Hand stands beside the Rochdale Road, at Steanor Bottom, Walsden, on the outskirts of Todmorden and is just yards from the Lancashire border.

It has been for sale for the past year, with an asking price of nearly £200,000.

There have been 27 enquiries from potential buyers but a significant proportion were for residential use, according to valuers Westlake and Co.

Within a three-mile radius there are estimated to be 50 other pubs.

“The locality is notorious for being over supplied with licensed trade sites, many operating just at or below the threshold of viability.

“The last full-time tenants declined to take on a new tenancy for the premises even on heavily concessionary terms due to poor trading.”

According to Westlake, the pub is compact by any standards, with women’s toilets on the first floor and no provision for the disabled.

The Bird I’th Hand has been a pub since the early 1800s and probably provided a watering hole for the engineers who built the nearby summit railway tunnel which, when it opened in 1839, was the longest in the world at 2,900 yards.

The pub came into its own again in 1984 when a train carrying petroleum was derailed inside the tunnel causing a dramatic fire which lasted for three days.

As recently as 1995, the pub won an award from Enterprise Inns for being one of its top four eating houses and “a good all-rounder.”

It claimed that queues outside before opening time were a common sight.

l Pubs are closing at 25 a week and publicans “tied” to breweries have to pay up to 40-45 per cent more for their beer than independent pubs, according to the latest surveys.