Mark Briggs has been a real ale connoisseur for over 35 years. A self-professed ‘beer geek’, Mark visits East Lancashire’s pubs for his weekly column. Read of Mark’s straight talking views on ale at his website or follow him on Twitter @realaleupnorth

THIS week the pub review takes us to one of the oldest hostelries in the area. Jack's House in Todmorden was built in the 1600s and is situated across from Centre Vale Park, a five minute walk from the town centre.

It's a fine, historic ale house and was first established as a pub in 1783. It was named The Shoulder of Mutton originally.

However, when new owner Jack Broom bought it in 1975, it was renamed The House that Jack Built and its present name was provided by the locals who drink there.

I was met at the stone-framed entrance by Bella, the friendly pub pooch, who led me down the stone steps and into this old fashioned, quirky establishment.

The pub has one main lounge, with wood floors, exposed stone walls, open fireplaces and a low beamed ceiling. It has a real homely feel with its comfy seating, small leaded windows and old pictures of the town on the walls.

However, what really impressed me, was the snug room, adjacent to the bar. It’s a unique area, with its stone, barrel-vaulted ceiling and soft seating. It used to be a holding room for offenders awaiting judgement from the town's magistrates. The local bobby lived next door and found ‘the hold’ most convenient to house the area’s rascals.

The old-fashioned bar is most impressive with its attractive brass rail and dark oak panelling. There were four cask ales available at a very reasonable £2.55 and I plumped for the The Rev's Golden Cracker, from Welsh brewer Brains. A light, refreshing, citrus flavoured slurp in great nick.

The others included Lancaster Blonde and a permanent local ale, Moorhouse's Pride of Pendle. Serving up the beer was Sue, who runs the pub with her partner Mark.

She said: “The Pride of Pendle is very popular with our customers. It's an easy drinking ale and is a good seller. We get the regulars involved with the selection of our beers too. On the last Thursday of the month they can choose from the list of guest ales.”

Sue was a most affable and informative host and was keen to explain all the quirky features at the pub. This included a window at the side of the bar, that opened out into the spacious, sheltered, well-furnished smoking area.

Sue explained: “We just open the window, take their order and pass the drinks through — it acts as an ideal serving hatch.”

The pub also has a good reputation for home cooked food, served every day, except Monday. One of the favourites is fish and chips. Sue said: “It's very popular. The fish is made with beer batter. The chips are hand-cut proper chips, not frozen. And we have a selection of home-made pies too."

One of the regulars at the bar said: “ I can certainly recommend the food here. The fish and chips are excellent. The fish is so fresh, you have to hold it down with your knife and fork.”

Entertainment is also on regularly at this most friendly watering hole. Live bands entertain at the weekends and the regulars too are encouraged to take part in the musical interludes. Instruments are provided and hang on the wall in a corner of the pub.

Sue said: “It's lovely when the customers partake. They take a guitar off the wall and start strumming. One regular plays the banjo. The audience are always appreciative. The regulars call us ‘The Jack House Family’. We are one big happy group.

“Six years, me, Mark and daughter Carly, have been here — and it's been a happy environment throughout that period.”

Those last comments summed up this welcoming establishment. It certainly appeared to be a social hub of the community.