CHANGING times dictated that the working village of Clayton West had to re-invent itself.
Once a thriving mining community based on busy pits and a bustling railhead, 21st Century Clayton has gradually been transformed into a tranquil, slow-paced suburbia.
The pits and railway have gone (although this was replaced with the popular narrow gauge Kirklees Light Railway now running on the former branch line through Skelmanthorpe to Shelley junction) and the ‘coal board’ houses have been sold off and refurbished, along with the village’s attractive cottages.
Reflecting this trend, around four years ago, one of several of the village pubs – originally known as the Commercial, on High Street – was converted into an ‘eco-friendly’ restaurant and renamed The Green Man to convey this rural, organic image.
But then in spring 2010 a further transformation was undertaken and No 21 was created after former employees Alex Thwaite and Adam Marcham got together to finance and pioneer an ambitious business project and transform the ambiance of this former country pub into a city-style bar restaurant with a commitment to delivering tip top food served up with first class service.
The theme of No 21 is traditional English fare. Haddock and chips, sausage and mash and steak is the order of the day in the spacious converted lounge bar which gives the impression, paradoxically, of being a ‘cellar bar’ on ground level as you go downstairs to dine.
An outdoor eating area is also in the thinking of Adam and Alex, who should know more than most, drawing on a wealth of shared experience in catering and events management.
The pair have set out to "evoke the bustle, style and originality of city-centre dining" in this rural setting and lay on "themed" events.
It’s quite a challenge.
We paid them a visit on a Thursday evening and, having pre-booked for 8pm, arrived early to savour a pre-dinner drink. I ordered a lager and then a refill. The barman courteously informed me that it was running off and moved to change the barrel, but then said they hadn’t got any more. As I contemplated the alternatives he said they had also just run out of the bar’s feature lager, Peroni on draught.
Not the perfect start to the evening’s proceedings, but the third choice, Green King IPA, was still on and it was quite acceptable.
Despite the hiccups with availability, the ‘wet trade’ appeared to be going well with a sizeable gathering in the customers standing around the main bar area and a party occupying the corner seating area by the window.