Here, Robin Longbottom looks back at the history of a long-forgotten brewery which was once one of the district’s most prominent

BEFORE the current pandemic, a trip to Goose Eye may well have involved calling in at the Turkey Inn, for a glass of ale or perhaps a meal.

Established back in the mid 19th century, to quench the thirst of workers at the two nearby mills, the inn has been much altered over the years but the exterior remains the same – particularly the stained glass windows emblazoned with a large red K.

The letter K is the last evidence of a long-forgotten Keighley brewery and stands for King.

Once one of the most prominent breweries in the district, King’s Brewery opened back in 1865 when Henry and Benjamin Blackborough of Steeton – together with John Smith, a farmer from Utley – took the lease on the Keighley Old Brewery in Cook Lane.

The brewery stood approximately on the site now occupied by the Argos outlet, just outside the Airedale Shopping Centre, and drew its water from a deep well that tapped into the aquifer under the centre of Keighley.

Shortly after going into the business they took on another partner, Aaron King, who was married to the Blackboroughs’ sister.

He had come to Keighley from Cowling to live with relatives after the death of both his parents. By the age of 15 he was working as an agricultural labourer and carter for John Brigg, of Guard House.

An enterprising young man, he taught himself to read and write and through hard work he and his wife managed to save enough money to invest in the brewery.

The other three partners all had other interests outside brewing and therefore were content to let Aaron manage the concern.

In 1875, Benjamin Blackborough resigned from the partnership to concentrate on the family farm at Hollings in Steeton and the brewery was officially named Aaron King & Co.

Henry Blackborough left the partnership shortly afterwards and took a farm in Idle and when the fourth partner, John Smith, died in 1884, Aaron King became the sole proprietor.

Under Aaron’s direction the brewery went from strength to strength and over the next 25 years, increased its commercial base substantially – purchasing no less than nine fully-licensed houses, one beer house (a pub without a spirits licence) and three off-licence shops. The brewery also owned the Parkwood Conservative Club, which gives a clear indication of Aaron’s political leaning at the time.

In Keighley the brewery owned the Globe Inn and Eastwood Tavern, now both closed, and a little further afield was the Marquis of Granby at Riddlesden and The Guide on the outskirts of Cullingworth.

Further up the Aire Valley was the Old Star at Steeton, now also closed, the Punch Bowl at Silsden, the Hare and Hounds at Lothersdale and the Ship Inn at Kildwick, which finally shut its doors around the end of the last war.

The brewery also owned the Sailor Hotel in Addingham.

After the death of Aaron King in 1914 the brewery was managed by his eldest son, Tom, and following his death by his younger brother Ernest.

In 1935, all but three of the tied houses – The Turkey Inn, The Punch Bowl and the Marquis of Granby – were put up for sale by auction.

The brewery continued in business until 1958 when it finally closed and the last three pubs were sold.

Sadly the Turkey Inn has remained closed throughout the present pandemic and its future looks very uncertain.

One hopes that whatever happens, the stained glass windows – which are the last reminder of the once popular brewery – will be preserved.