Sunday, 17 January 2016

Loughborough pubs

The Windmill Inn on Sparrow Hill 

I recently caught sight of an article in the “LeicesterMercury” about pub names in Leicestershire towns. You’d have thought, as the county’s biggest town after Leicester, some Loughborough pubs would have made it into the article, wouldn’t you? But no, lots of others places mentioned, but not Loughborough. I suppose it was because the pub names they were referring to no longer exist in any Loughborough pubs.

The Old English Gentleman on Ashby Road

Ok, so fair dues, the article does say it’s going to look into the more interesting pubs names in the county, but I’m sure Loughborough must have had some of these! The newspaper goes into the possible meaning of the pub names, and their choice includes the following:

  • The Monkey Walk
  • The Globe (but not the Lamplighters)
  • The Cradock Arms
  • The Ram Jam Inn
  • The Gate Hangs Well
  • The Anne of Cleves
  • The Tin Hat
  • The Two Steeples
  • O’Neill’s
  • The Bull’s Head

The Black Lion, the Hobgoblin, now the Tap and Clapp

Then, the article moves on to a selection of pub names found, not just within the county, but across the country. Here they include:
  • The Red Lion
  • The Nag’s Head
  • The Black Horse
  • The Rose and Crown
  • The Golden Fleece
  • The Barley Mow

So, let’s have a quick look at those listed above and see if Loughborough has, or had any pubs with these names:

The Bull’s Head

The Bull’s Head [and Posting House] was a coaching inn on High Street (and there was one in Shelthorpe too), approximately where vice Versa, which is now a gym, is. The original signpost was one of those wonderful ones that stretched right across from one side of the road to the other. I haven’t got a photo of this, but here’s a link to one, and here’s a picture of something similar in St Ives, Huntingdonshire, taken in 2014.  

The Oliver Cromwell pub in St Ives, Hunts.
The Red Lion (the sign of John O’Gaunt)

Loughborough’s Red Lion pub was on Biggin Street. I’m not quite sure where exactly, but I think it was in the area now occupied by Timpsons, British Heart Foundation etc.. 

The Nag’s Head (an indication that the landlord kept horses, or a jibe at women?)

A pub with this name was on the site which is now occupied by Wilkinsons. Given that when the Co-op building was being built a hoard of clay pipes was found, maybe the Nag’s Head was the original smokers’ pub!

The Black Horse (was there a racing stables nearby, or is this an omen of death of a member of the royal family?)

There was a Black Horse (and commercial [inn]) in the 1800s on High Street, and also one on Woodgate. Between 1828 and 1841 the landladies were of the Mansfield family.
The Rose and Crown (the joining together of two of England’s most powerful emblems)

This pub has had a couple of incarnations. The original building, on Baxter Gate was replaced in the 1930s when Baxter Gate was widened, and has been the Custard Bar (and shamefully, I can’t remember if it still is called this).

The Golden Fleece (nothing to do with Jason!)

Loughborough town centre also used to have a pub called the Golden Fleece. There have actually been about three different buildings with this name, all in the general area of Cattle Market / Granby Street, the latest now being a restaurant and bar (possibly called Chapter One?). Since Loughborough was at one time part of the [wool] Staple of Calais, then I would agree that this pub name represents our involvement in the wool industry, way back.

The Barley Mow

Well, we certainly used to have a Barley Mow, on Market Street, in the double-fronted shop, one half of which is now a café. I wonder if this was called the Barley Mow because in the distant past this area was home to Loughborough’s malting industry? In order to use barley or other cereal grains in the brewing industry or for distilling, the grains first have to be malted  (basically, dried, re-hydrated and then sprouted). This would have happened in a building called a maltings, or a malthouse, or a malting floor. The area where Iceland is now, before it was occupied by Heathcoat’s laceworks, was, I believe, the site of the old malthouse, and was ideally sited because it is here that there are many little tributaries feeding into the Woodbrook which runs very close to Iceland, under the path. A friend tells me that although the area is now called Market Street, his mother still referred to it as either Mill Lane, or Malt Mill Lane. On a related note, there used to be a pub called The Maltings, on Knightthorpe Road, which is now a Co-op, that was a relatively recent build, and replaced an old barn: was this barn a malthouse?

Some of the more interesting pub names in Loughborough include:

Bishop Blaize – Bishop Blaize was the patron saint of the trade guild of woolcombers. The emblem usually associated with this pub name is a pair of candles, or a pair of combs. The pub was at the bottom of Woodgate.

Blue Boar – this pub was in Swan Street, and demolished when The Rushes was built. The sign of the blue boar is associated with the Tudors.

Dolphin – really? Initially I thought this might have been named ironically, rather like the Sea Around Us (on Ashby Road, now the Harvester), but I’ve now decided this uses a crest from a trade coat of arms – the dolphin being from that of fishmongers. The pub was on Church Gate: whether or not there was a fishmonger nearby, I’m not sure.

Dove and Rainbow (later Bucks Horn) – according to Bill Wells*, the Dove and Rainbow was on Pinfold Street / Buckhorn Square. The name could be a reference to Noah and the floods, or it could be that it’s connected with the dyeing industry, as the rainbow was the heraldic emblem of the Dyers’ Company and at one time there were many dyeworks in the town.

The study of pub names is a huge area of research, and there are often several suggested meanings for many names; however, some meanings are quite obvious. Some examples from Loughborough include those pubs with names related in some way to royalty or nobility. Here’s a few examples: 

Royal George on The Coneries / Nottingham Road, which was probably named after George, who was Prince of Wales, and Prince Regent in 1810 when the pub was first opened, and who became King George IV after the death of his father in 1820.

Similarly, the George the Fourth on Regent Street.

The Prince of Wales in Church Gate was opened prior to 1863: perhaps this was named in honour of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, who later became Edward VII, on account of his being Prince of Wales from 1841 until 1901?

And perhaps the Clarence Inn (later the Jack O’Lantern) was named after the First Earl of Clarence, who was Prince Leopold, Queen Victoria’s fourth son.

Maybe the Duke of York (Nottingham Road, demolished and replaced by flats) was so named after Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, the second son of George III?

The Marquis of Granby (which was on the corner of Wood Gate and Packe Horse Lane) was named after John Manners, the son of the Duke of Rutland.

Other pubs are named after the trade with which they were mostly associated, so, for example:

The Blacksmith’s Arms on Bedford Square, was so named because at one time the landlord was also a blacksmith.

The Cooper’s Arms on Barrow Street would have been frequented by barrel makers, and prior to this was named the Builder’s Arms.

The Three Tuns (now the Three Nuns) on Church Gate was a reference to the crest of the company of brewers.

The Wheatsheaf, now the Orange Tree
The Wheatsheaf (Bedford Square, now the Orange Tree) was a crest from the trade coat of arms of bakers.

The Green Man (Swan Street and under Carillon Court) was also an image used in heraldry, as the Company of Distillers used a pair of green men  (as in wild, or savage men)  as supporters in their coat of arms.

We’ve already mentioned Bishop Blaize and the Golden Fleece, the Dolphin and the Dove and Rainbow.

The Stag & Pheasant on Nottingham Road

Many pub signs are also named after animals, for example, the White Hart, the Unicorn, the Fox and Hounds, the Black/White Swan, the Black/White/Red Lion, the Black Horse, the Red Cow, Stag and Pheasant, Greyhound, Hare and Hounds/Pheasant, Peacock, etc.. Some of these origins are quite obvious, but others may be misleading, for example, I would think that the Peacock was named after the Dukes of Rutland, the Manners family, whose heraldic emblem is the peacock. Others, for example, the White Hart, have royal connections, this particular badge being that of Richard II.

Well, I could go on about this subject ad nauseam, so I shall stop here, but leave you with a thought: the Blacksmith’s Arms used to be called the Black Boy. This is thought to have been a reference to Charles II, but I have a slightly different thought about this, which I will share with you sometime! 

*Wells, Bill (2014). Billy's book of Loughborough boozers.    

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