The Cross Keys in Siddal, near Halifax has now been open as a freehouse for over three years.
It has during this period gained a reputation as one of the best pubs in Yorkshire under the ownership of Ruth Dunsmore and Hugh Kirby, writes The Bloke from Hull.
Ruth and Hugh got to know each other when young. In fact, they were childhood sweethearts. However, their lives took different paths until they reunited once again and decided to take on a pub as a joint business venture, something they had often joked about. With Ruth’s business acumen and Hugh’s vast experience in the brewing and license trades they saw the opportunity to take over the pub as a totally independent free house, - “free of any tie”.
The pub had been a failed pub group hostelry that been closed for some time. Ruth and Hugh, however, saw its potential as an opportunity not to be missed. They wanted to put the “pub” back into a pub, just like they used to be. One day Ruth was in Skipton and decided to make an offer there and then and negotiated the deal. No pussyfooting! After just a month, with a pot of magnolia paint and an overhaul of the fire together with extremely hard graft, the pub was reopened on December 7, 2012. As the project took off Hugh took on the day to day running of the pub while Ruth continued with her full time job.
Hugh made use of his links in the trade and struck up supply deals for cask ales with as many local breweries as possible and other suppliers to provide products complimenting the style envisaged. Once open, the word soon spread among members of the local community that its former hub had been reopened and revitalised and curious villagers came to discover the delights of their local. They liked what they found and began to return to the warmth and comfort of a second home. It did not take long for beer enthusiasts from near and far to discover via the “hop vine”, the latest addition to the real ale pub scene and Ruth and Hugh’ s efforts were soon recognised and rewarded by CAMRA and SPBW.
Ruth and Hugh have always supported local charities and always make the most of opportunities created not only on a daily basis but also via festivals and by sponsoring local organisations and sports teams. Consistent reinvestment into the pub has enhanced the décor and ambience while added features are the beer garden and letting rooms. Only recently, further sympathetic refurbishment has taken place in the bar area and as with all such adventures there will be more to come.
There are always things going on from a community point of view. The tap room is an ideal room not just for the darts and domino teams but lends itself well for meetings, parties, wedding breakfasts and receptions and funeral teas. Sunday afternoons see some great music gigs from both local outfits and bands from afar. Even touring bands from America have sought out the venue and had their requests to play at the intimate surroundings granted. Cycling and walking clubs gather use the Cross Keys as a pre and post exertion meeting point.
There are many notable characters at the pub, perhaps most notably the beloved pub dog, Poppy who patrols the pub with extreme vigilance at all times making sure that she gets her share of the award-winning pork pies made by champion producer Barry.
Thus the pub is all a great traditional pub for locals and beer enthusiasts should be. There are no TVs, Sky Sports, pool tables, gambling machines or certain, bland lagers and bitters. Just great beers in a friendly atmosphere. A fine nod to tradition has been the purchase and hanging of a welcoming 3D “at the sign of” style” Cross Keys sign which has replaced the more usually seen board signage.
Ruth and Hugh – we raise our glasses to you.