Banks seem to be closing at the same rate as pubs, but this former Nat West in Todmorden has been restyled into a bar/café so I guess it’s even stevens.

Pub of the Week: The Honest John
welcome100%
Drinks selection100%
Atmosphere80%
Prices100%
95%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (27 Votes)
87%

It’s a fabulous interior, with a stunning ornamental ceiling and tons of stucco detail, revamped cast iron brackets, exposed stone walls and original tiling on the floor. It’s a huge but somehow cosy space, helped by a wood burning stove set into an old red brick surround at the far end with a couple of comfortable easy chairs nearby to toast your toes. It is May, after all.
Owners Daren Derrick and Alison Baldwin have been running bars at outdoor venues but wanted something more permanent, and saw potential in the old bank building. They did pretty much all the refurbishment themselves, with the help of co-opted family members.
The name comes from the Fielden family; Quaker Joshua was a local cotton spinner on a small scale in the early 1800s but he grew his empire and became one of the largest cotton manufacturers in the country. His son ‘Honest’ John began working in his father’s mill aged just 10, so he had first-hand experience of the reality of child labour, and became famous later in life as a radical MP when he introduced the ‘Ten Hours Act’ in 1847.
There’s a nod to the Fieldens being a temperance family, with a good range of soft drinks, teas and coffees but the gin (I counted 24) and whiskey (lost count) list is much longer. There are three regular cask beers; two from Sheffield’s Bradfield Brewery, Farmers Blonde and Cruci-Bull Ale, and Crafty Mild from the Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery. On tap there’s Maltsmiths IPA, a couple of ciders and Amstell.
There are plans for a bar food menu, but right now there’s just a cheese board (4 for £6.50, 8 for £12) served with crusty bread, and a good-looking selection of home-made cakes and scones.
The stylishly refurbished room on the right as you go in was the bank manager’s office, now used to host ‘knit & natter’ sessions, the Tod writing group and as a rehearsal space for the town’s choir. There’s work by local artists on the dark blue walls and comfy chairs and sofas. A good place for a bit of a gathering!
On a wet Wednesday lunchtime it appears to be strictly female, with ladies taking tea and a couple of mums with young kids. I’m guessing the clientele broadens out beyond 6pm. There are fresh flowers and the papers to read; it’s a welcome addition to the Todmorden lounging scene.
The Honest John, 6 Rochdale Road, Todmorden, OL14 5AA
Hours: Monday – Thursday: 10am – 10pm, Friday & Saturday 10am – 11pm, Sunday 11am – 10pm.

About The Author

Amanda Wragg

Mandy Wragg is a freelance food journalist, writing and inspecting for the Yorkshire Post, Alastair Sawday, the Morning Advertiser, the AA, Cool Places and David Hancock's Inn Places. She co-writes www.squidbeak.co.uk, an independent guide to eating, drinking and staying in Yorkshire.

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