As an alehouse and local inn the Old Bay Horse played an integral part in many social aspects of this village. It also had important historical aspects too, especially in relation to its function as a meeting place for miners from the local coal mines.
Even after the Institute had been converted to the Miner’s Welfare, it was the Bay Horse where the men argued/agreed/voted/resolved matters certainly in relation to Savile Pit on a day to day basis – the Welfare being used only for larger NUM meetings. The pub even carried a signed notice by the magistrates to open one hour extra each working day for the benefit of miners coming off shift.
One hundred and forty years ago (1863) it was the headquarters of the Methley and Whitwood Colliers in their fight against enforced evictions by the mine owners during a major dispute.
It was in fact one of many like public houses which would lead to the formation of the Yorkshire Miner’s Association. Witness the membership card of Norman Green which prints the title – Savile Pit of the Yorkshire Mineworkers’ Association registered under the Trades Union Acts of 1871 – 1917 at the Old Bay Horse, Methley. Secretary G Bullen.
It was also a centre for the exchange of information on many other matters ranging from pigeons to gardening and no one was banned from its doors. It attracted many lively and interesting characters – too many to name, however I have one abiding memory as a 17 year old, calling in one Friday night on the way to the dance at the Welfare. Before going into the pub a look back showed a group of afternoon shift men silhouetted including the unmistakable figure of 22 stone Benny Hanson walking down to the pub. The landlord was pulling one of three pints as I walked in and then took my call for one pint of tetleys bitter – the three pints were being pulled in advance for Benny and by the time I had finished my drink Benny had shifted three and a further two pints before walking out to catch the 10.20pm 189 bus to Castleford!!
What on earth happened! The pub had long since lost association of the colliers, but had been rescued and made into a thriving bar and restaurant business.
However over the last 5 years business had fallen off, you didn’t need to be an accountant to know that – all you had to do was look at the car park.
Last orders were called on Friday 19th August, 2005 and in the following days constructors fencing was put in place.
Sadly enquiries made throughout the summer in relation to rumours about possible closure were not answered and the approach to rectify matters with even further investment rather that a more simple solution has now proved to be unsuccessful.
Well, now that its closed we can see what it says on the Leeds City Planning Consents website that on 12th July, 2005 permission to construct 10 houses and 30 apartments was approved following an application made on 18th February. A later look shows that this was varied to 24 dwelling houses on the 17th October, 2005
Former landlord Bill Gettings would turn in his grave if he knew all this. As no doubt the ghost of Methley will.
Just some former Landlords 1821 Jane Thornton
1861 Samuel Popplewell
1877 Sarah Wright
1881 Ellen Green
1892 Geo Risker
1908 Ephraim Jackson
1911 Arthur Wyke
1927 Elizabeth Earnshaw
1929 Solomon Darrell
1936 Wm Gettings
1972 Louis Napper Beevers
1992 Brian Lockwood