Brighouse And The End Of The American Civil War

Bethel Street, Brighouse c. 1966

The last of the four photographs from Brighouse back in the 1960s shows the busy pavements of Bethel Street with the unmistakable facade of the Prince of Wales Pub (now The Old Ship) in the background. The renaming of pubs is normally a retrograde process, but in the case of the Prince of Wales / Old Ship, there is an element of justification. The present building, which dates from 1926/27, occupies the site of a former public house called the Tap and Spile (as logical name for a pub as you could ever hope to find), but when it was rebuilt in 1927, it was re-named “The Prince of Wales”. Whether it was named in honour of the then Prince of Wales (who was later to become – albeit briefly – King Edward VIII) I am not sure. It didn’t become the Old Ship until early in the present century, although the rationale for the name dates back to the rebuilding in the 1920s. There has always been quite a fad for incorporating the timbers of old warships into public houses (the White Beare in Norwood Green provides a perfect 16th century example of this), and in the 1920s, the brewery were lucky enough to buy up some of the timbers of HMS Donegal, which had just been broken up in Portsmouth. The Donegal (built in 1858) had a pretty routine life as a ship of the line, transporting troops here and there and serving time as part of the Royal Navy’s Torpedo School, but she did have one moment of glory back in 1865 when she was undertaking coastguard duties off the Lancashire coast. Whilst there she was the scene of the last surrender of the American Civil War, when she took the surrender of the Confederate ship CSS Shenandoah. Quite why the last surrender of the American Civil War took place within what are now the timbers of a Brighouse pub is a tale worth telling only in the confines of a Brighouse pub with a good supply of beer to hand.

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