Summer Pub of the Season 2012, Vulcan, Huddersfield
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The Vulcan, St Peters Street, Huddersfield has been voted Huddersfield CAMRA’s Summer Pub of the Season in recognition of its commitment to real ale. This year, it also celebrates its first listing in the CAMRA national Good Beer Guide 2013.
The Vulcan is a traditional town-centre pub with a long standing licensee. It has six handpumps offering competitively priced beers from regional and local breweries, usually with a Thwaites’ beer and Golden Pippin from Copper Dragon brewery together with an interesting range of guest ales. The beers are partly sourced through Coors and Thwaites guest beer lists with the remainder obtained from local breweries such as Mallinson’s
Peter Woodhead, took over the ownership of the Vulcan twenty years ago on the 10th June 1992 after buying out the other seven members of the ‘Thursday 8 club’ who previously owned it. In the early days it was predominantly a keg pub with only one handpump serving Theakston’s Bitter. A second handpump was installed not long after, doubling the real ale on offer. This was dedicated to Worthington’s Bitter which remained a popular choice up until about a year ago. In 2007, it won an award for its four handpulled beers from the ‘Sunday at Seven’ real ale group.
Since then the number of handpumps has steadily grown with the increased popularity of Real Ale to its current six handpulls.
The pub has been recently refurbished, although the infamous ‘Peter Potter and the Drip Tray’ chalk cartoon above the bar has remained. There is a pool table in the front side room and 2 large flat screen TV’s in the main bar area showing live SKY sports, and a small raised dining area which doubles as a stage for music events.
Breakfasts and lunches are available 7 days a week. The chalk board menu offers a good range of traditional home-cooked food and desserts at bargain prices often for less than £3.95. There is a daily happy hour from 4pm to 7pm Monday to Friday.
The pub attracts an eclectic range of customers of all age groups, catering for a Pools team, All Fours card group, karaoke enthusiasts, the televised horse racing fraternity and even the Water Polo team. Live music is featured on most Sunday evenings.
The Vulcan opens on Match days showing Town matches on the TV. Its opening times are some of the longest in Town, from 9am in the morning to 2am the following morning. When the new licensing laws came in, Peter applied for extended opening to 2am closing. This made it convenient for the post office workers to get a drink at the end of their night shifts and likewise for the early morning market traders. Consequently, there are 10 different members of staff covering the shifts throughout the week; Pam being the longest serving.
Historically, The Vulcan Inn was established in 1851 in St Peters Street and appears to have derived its name from a large dray horse owned by the local brewer, Joseph Cliffe, of the Market Place brewery in Huddersfield and later of the Lion Brewery, Birkby. However, if you look at the pub sign you’ll notice it features a delivery van from around the 1920’s.
Research shows that the Vulcan was a make of car and truck. The Vulcan Motor Engineering Co was based in Southport and made cars from 1902 to 1928 and commercial vehicles up until 1953. The pub sign shows one of the 1½ ton trucks from the 1920’s.
David Green, in his book on Huddersfield pubs, notes that The Vulcan was also known as the Harmonium Pub where music hall entertainers appeared mid-week and at weekends. An Act of Parliament in 1926 made a music hall performance enacted for payment in this type of venue an illegal practice – including any payment in kind. George Formby appeared here as the ‘Wigan sprinter’.