We often think of our towns and villages growing organically, like some garden bloom, starting with a bud and then slowly expanding around the edges to become the finely crafted communities that we know today. But it didn’t happen like that, it never does. Towns grow in fits and starts, first this way and then that. They consume the surrounding fields and meadows, spurred on by bridges, roads and industry. A visitor to the Brighouse area at the start of the nineteenth century would have found a one sided town, weighted towards the ancient parish of Rastrick to the south of the river and as sparsely populated as a Lancastrian nunnery to the north of the River. And then came the Turnpike Trusts, tarmacadam tendrils linking Brighouse to Huddersfield, Bradford, Halifax and Keighley and opening up the way to the development of the north of the town.
The Brighouse to Denholmegate Turnpike was opened in 1826, climbing out of the centre of the town, through Lane Head to Hove Edge, Hipperholme and beyond. And where roads went, houses soon followed. And where there were houses, there were pubs. The Albion Inn was built at the junction of Halifax Road and Waterloo Road in 1853, directly opposite the old Toll House. The area was on the up, a trend accelerated by the installation of new-fangled gas street lighting in 1861 and by the abolition of toll charges on the Turnpike in the following year. The expanding grid of terraced streets brought a boom in trade for the Albion and the many other pubs and beerhouses which were also established in this part of North Brighouse.
Over the years, the Albion saw its fair share of local life. Like many local pubs, it was often used as a venue for inquests, and many an unfortunate resident has had their final hours investigated by the visiting coroner in its upstairs lounge. In 1876 it was the landlady of the Inn itself, Elizabeth Shackleton, who nearly met an unfortunate end when she was assaulted by one of her clients, one Frederick Rayner, who was fined £5 plus costs for the assault and a further £5 for refusing to leave the pub when requested.
In the twentieth century its’ publicans included Albert “Alty” Farrar, a professional sportsman of some repute. He not only played first class cricket for Yorkshire but he also turned out for the Rochdale Hornets Rugby League team : a sporting success story in charge of a pub that was equally successful. And so the pub moved forward into the twenty-first century, no doubt believing that it was as fixed a part of the local scene as the road that still made its way up the hill and towards romantic places such as Shelf, Queensbury and Denholme. But the change in habits, in tastes, in culture, all meant that by 2007, success was no longer been measured in the volume of pints pulled or bottles uncorked. The pub closed down and reopened as a Chinese Restaurant. Appropriately named, “Success”.