The Cock & Bottle....licensed for all Spirits!
Remember the old saying? - 'God works in mysterious ways......' Well, He certainly is doing in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. A group of Christian business people, church representatives and evangelists have set-up the 'Bradford Christian Pub Consortium.'
The B.C.P.C. now occupy 'The Cock & Bottle,' on Barkerend Road, one of the most famous pubs in Bradford, it's just up the road from the Cathedral and is a splendid example of an unspoilt Victorian pub, lots of little rooms all with original fittings and offering lots of atmosphere. To say the least, the pub has had a very chequered past, but who'd have believed it would become a Christian Pub?
This venture has created an incredible amount of interest from all corners of the world. The B.B.C. have been there with their cameras, along with journalists, photographers, radio broadcasters and so on. Whilst I was there a photographer turned up from a Norwegian newspaper. It has certainly put Bradford on the international map.
I visited the pub and had a chat (and a pint) with The Landlord, The Reverend, and the Parish Evangelist.
Malcolm Willis, the friendliest of landlords, said 'Folk have been in touch and wished us well and offered prayers. Some people can't believe it when they come in here and see a vicar behind the bar pulling pints, they think it is a fancy dress party!' Hundreds of people had visited the pub in its opening weekend for a pint, a chat, to share problems and just to be supportive. It must have been a busy weekend because they had sold-out of lager by the time I got there! Malcolm explained that he had to walk one man off the premises that had overindulged, it was no problem at all, he was led to a waiting Taxi and sent home.
The M.I.B. (Man In Black) Reverend Robin Gamble (Click)
The Cock & Bottle is a listed building and not even the name can be changed, there was talk of renaming it 'The Kings Arms' or 'The Lamb & Anchor'.
The enterprising Reverend Robin Gamble, works for the diocese of Bradford, a vast area stretching from Pudsey to Sedbergh almost in The Lake District. He said the response has been very positive. It's been a hectic time with interviews, 'phone calls and photo' sessions with people from Belgium, Japan, South Africa and Australia to name but a few. The official opening took place on Sunday 13th June with Bishop David, The Bishop of Bradford.
Bishop David (Click)
The consortium have this to say about their venture:
First and foremost we want to run a really good 'local' with high standards, warmth and friendliness, a Christian welcome and hospitality, care and compassion. Counselling, prayer and ministry will be available. Christian invitation events, enquirers groups and teaching courses will all be happening along with a full range of community activities such as quiz nights and music nights.
Evangelism, social concern, ministry and prayer at the heart of the local community.
Secondly, ours will in effect be a 'theme pub' serving the wider area of Bradford generally and the inner-city in particular. We will offer a superb venue with facilities for meetings, conferences and functions. Churches will be able to stage their own activities, or simply make use of the events we will ourselves be organising such as worship and teaching programmes, men's and womens nights, Christian supper parties, alcohol-free youth nights, multi-media evangelistic presentations etc.
Quality Christian events at the heart of the city.
It was realised that some controversy would occur regarding Christians and alcohol:
There are clearly many doubts about the whole idea of Christians getting involved in this area. We ourselves have agonised long and hard over some of these issues and over the potential things that could go wrong.
Despite these reservations however, after much prayer, we feel called to be where the needy people really are.
Jesus himself did much of his best work in worldly and non-religious settings, mixing with publicans, revellers, tax collectors and on occasions prostitutes.
Furthermore, we are aware of the fact that the Christian Church in inner Bradford is in a process of retreat and decline; we feel this is one way of being the Church in a new and missionary way. We want to run our Christian Pub in the inner-city, where the Church is often at its weakest and the needs are at their greatest.
A Mission pub, run by mission people, in a needy mission field.
One for all, and all for one! (Click)
L to R: Ashley Evans, Malcolm Willis and Robin Gamble
Herbert Harrison, a 'man of the cloth' from New Zealand has this view:
I have a strong belief that the church has to take its message out to where the people congregate rather than wait Sunday by Sunday for them to come to the church.
Society has changed. The hours of trading (in this country anyway) have changed dramatically in the last decade - yet the Church continues in its same old way and, in many cases, makes no effort to re-mould its presence in the community to suit the community it is supposed to serve. I have spoken several times on this theme to both the Laity and the Clergy, but too many of them do not want to be jolted out of their little niche. Good on the Vicar.....and his Parish Council for seeing that needs are met in a way more appropriate to the times.
'All it needs is for people to be infected with the idea that this is a good and holy work of the Lord.' Mystery caller.
So, if you get the chance, pay a visit to the Cock & Bottle, it may just be the tonic you're looking for!
I would be more than willing to pass your comments on to The Cock & Bottle. Yorksview@aol.com
Blessed are those who thirst!
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