If what you want is music, legacy (and ale), you’ve found a home.
Originally a dwelling house, the Puzzle Hall Inn dates back to the first half of the 17th Century, doors opening for the consumption of home-brewed ale during the early part of the 18th Century but it wasn’t until 1905 that the then landlady of the pub, Mrs Lydia Platt, had a tower built to the rear of the building so that she could brew her own Platt’s of Sowerby Bridge labelled beer. Thus started the reputation of Puzzle Hall Inn as a place for people who really committed to naughtiness.
In the late 1980s, the game changed. Two regulars, Pete Martin and Geoff Amos, dreamt up, produced, and promoted a weekly series of jazz concerts in the pub, getting listed in The Times Top 10 small Jazz venues in the UK. The only weeks that there were no concerts were when the Tuesday nights fell on any of the Christmas or New Year bank holidays.
All this activity resulted in around 850 concerts, with approximately 4,250 musicians appearing.
They were packed out, with internationally renowned jazz artists making a point of stopping at the riverside pub to try out old and new music on an audience they could depend on.
A welcome aspect about the series was one of informal education.
Younger rock and pop musicians from the area had worked out that, though jazz was not always of much interest to them, there was some serious musicianship happening, technically and creatively. The musicians were also extremely approachable, freely giving advice on matters of instrumental technique.
It became a place for people to meet and collaborate on ideas and projects, or to cross lines with cultures or practices you knew nothing of before. Whether you were in a dance class, dancing to the songs of prodigious Cuban musicians, or dominating in chess club, or exploring places unknown in the book society, or reading original poetry at the Puzzle Poets night, or part of the audience; at the Puzzle Hall Inn, you could have a pint and an encounter communal magic.
Meanwhile the music developed and diversified too with bands and performers from as far afield as Iceland, the USA and Italy rubbing shoulders with local acts and serving up just about every musical genre you could think of. An outdoor area with a purpose made stage and built in P.A. followed, and music festivals on spring and summer bank holiday weekends were added to the regular music and poetry nights inside the pub.
These artists attracted other artists, and dreamers attracted dreamers, and the camaraderie brought in everybody else.
This is how music became woven into the fabric of Puzzle Inn Hall.
That is what we are bringing back.
We’re bringing back the secret staircase to lovers’ meets, the romance of good ale and good company, extraordinary opportunities for music and art, and a revival of a pillar in the community for offcumduns and locals, all of whom become regarded as Puzzle People.
The building has suffered from lack of investment for many years and more recently considerable vandalism and is now in a sad state of repair with no tenant interested in taking it on. Some things are too good to lose, and camaraderie, joy, and nights of music make the list.