Halifax bar owner talks gigs and gongs ahead of national award ceremony

A Halifax publican will travel to London today to find out whether his boozer has won a coveted national award.

The Grayston Unity owner Michael Ainsworth will find out later whether they have won the 'Parliamentary Pub of the Year' award at a ceremony at Westminster this afternoon.

Michael poses behind his bar at The Grayston Unity.

Michael poses behind his bar at The Grayston Unity.

Set a few metres from the Town Hall steps in Wesley Court, The Grayston harbours a reputation as one of Calderdale's quirkiest watering holes, with particular attention paid to live music and entertainment.

It's certainly been enough to impress Halifax MP Holly Lynch, who nominated it for the award. It has already secured the prize for the Yorkshire and Humber region.

"It's fantastic and all a bit funny in a way," Michael said, "we're genuinely proud and chuffed to get it.

"We're a town centre bar, we're absolutely tiny. We have no aspirations for it to get any bigger.

Mercury Prize-nominee Nadine Shah performed at the venue last year.

Mercury Prize-nominee Nadine Shah performed at the venue last year.

"We're small with a real community feel about it. It's not somewhere you just come for a drink, it's part of something much, much bigger.

"We get people from their early twenties right up to 70 plus. There aren't many town centre bars I can think of with that can do that so naturally.

"One of the regulars summed it up perfectly by saying; 'we're a small bar with a huge creative heart'."

The bar, which has been described as the UK's smallest live music venue, has a gig capacity of just 18 people, and has been able to attract acts such as Nadine Shah this year.

Halifax in-things The Orielles held their official album launch at The Grayston Unity.

Halifax in-things The Orielles held their official album launch at The Grayston Unity.

On January 27 they'll host Chicago-born singer-songwriter Daniel Knox, something that Michael is especially excited about.

"He's only doing a very small number of UK dates and the furthest north, apart from this, is something like Birmingham, so it's a real opportunity to come and see him."

Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Pub Group, Toby Perkins, MP, said: “We are thrilled at the quality of entries for the inaugural Parliamentary Pub of the Year competition. The 14 finalists’ video entries show the diverse range of pubs out there, and I know that it will be incredibly difficult to choose the winners from these entries.

“Pubs play a crucial and much-loved role in our daily life and the enthusiasm that MPs have shown in promoting the claim of their locals to this title shows the pride that our communities take in our pubs.

“We look forward to saluting all our finalists on the 15th and crowning our champion.”