Things have changed at Stubbing Wharf since Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath used to drink there as Amanda Wragg discovers

Pub of the Week: Stubbing Wharf, Hebden bridge
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It’s a grim day in winter, 1959. Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath are sat in a ‘gummy dark bar’. Hughes is trying to persuade Plath that it’s a good idea to move to Calderdale. She’s not convinced, and starts to cry. It’s not going well, so his poem ‘Stubbing Wharfe’ is not exactly a barrel of laughs. He reflects on ‘the shut-in sodden dreariness of the whole valley’, complaining that ‘if this is the glamour of an English pub, it’s horrible, like a bubble in the sunk Titanic’.
Things have changed. Today it’s cheery, welcoming and free of gummy corners – it’s an airy, opened-out space with comfy padded tartan banquettes round the walls and an open fire. Sturdy tables sit on the stone flags that were saved after the disastrous floods on Boxing Day 2015 that gutted the pub. While the structure survived, the interior was completely rebuilt.
They’ve got a solid record for achieving and keeping the cask marque award for cellar excellence and always feature six real ales. Food-wise, there’s a huge range of dishes. Starters include goats cheese and black pudding with onion marmalade and a prawn cocktail. Move on to home made steak & ale pie, sausage & mash or roast belly pork.
One of the greatest pleasures is to find a seat outside at the back of the pub – it backs onto the trans-Pennine Rochdale canal. If only Ted and Sylvia had abandoned the tap room for the tow path on a summer’s evening his poem might have been a bit more positive and she might have stopped weeping.
The Stubbing Wharf, King Street, Hebden Bridge, HX7 6LU t: 01422 844107,
Open: 7 days a week, midday to midnight Monday to Saturday, midday to 11 Sunday.

About The Author

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, an independent guide to eating, drinking and staying in Yorkshire.

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