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Bygone Stanley - Village Pubs


The village pub has always played an important part in providing recreation for the villagers. Most of them enjoy a glass of good ale, a chat about current affairs, local gossip, expressing opinions, having a joke, competing in a game of cards, dominoes or darts, a little music and an opportunity to raise their voices in song. Stanley has many such pubs and all were originally built over 100 years ago. Some have been re-built, others extended and renovated.

THE RISING SUN at Bottomboat is probably the oldest of the ones which are still used as a public house. There does not appear to be records available as to when it was built; locals feel it would be 200 years ago. They talk about three cellars under the house having access to two tunnels, one leading towards the river and one towards the Stanley Lake Lock area. Trading was done in these areas in the 16th and 17th centuries with the River Calder as a source of transport. So it does appear that the Rising Sun could have been used as an Ale House 200 years ago.

In those days the publican would most likely brew his own ale. The tunnels (who knows, perhaps for the purpose of doing deals of an illegal nature) from the river boats to a distribution point which was often Ale Houses in those days and sometimes churches. Whatever secrets the past holds in the Rising Sun, if they could be revealed it would be, I am sure, a story equal to Moonfleet and other smuggling stories of the past.

Pubs were so full of character. In my younger days a rough & ready pub had good beer and rough & tough customers. But beneath this rough and tough character was something very special - genuine friendliness and loyalty towards each other.

To complete this short write up on this house, one must make note of the ghost which locals past & present claim to have seen. Perhaps it is Nicholas Battely or one of the Botham family who appear to have been characters of the past in Bottomboat. Agnus, wife of Nicholas Battely, was fined 6d for brewing ale twice against the assize. Perhaps she occasionally re-appears as a protest - or to check the beer to see if it comes up to her own brew of the past.

There was, of course, coal mining in that area in the late 18th and early 19th centuries working seams of coal near the surface. There is a possibility that these tunnels could have been part of these colliery undertakings.

THE RAILWAY HOTEL (now THE SPINDLE TREE) - This again is a house built in the 19th century. It was, in its early days, a coaching house being on the main coach and wagonette road from the northern cities, including nearby York. It is now a good place for eating.

One of my earliest memories of this house was the Sunday evening piano entertainment in the 1930's by a local pianist named Fred Harris, a mine worker from Newmarket Colliery. He was a talented piano player and played what we called romantic and classical music whilst most public house players preferred to play music to which all could sing a song. He often talked in admiration of Beethoven's music and, to some extent, perhaps tried to imitate him. He was a dramatic musician and made his head and body shake when he played some of his music. Beethoven was a dramatic musician. He died in 1827 shaking his fist in fury at a violent thunderstorm; a fitting end to a dramatic musician. I am sure Fred made a more peaceful exit.

THATCHED ROUSE, Aberford Road, Stanley - It would appear from some conveyance records I have examined that there was an ale house only a few yards behind the present house, on the river side. A stone cottage still exists there and is described as an Inn (a house providing alcoholic drinks). I feel that this was the original, followed by a new building, with perhaps a change of name, which was built mid-l9th century.

In 1925 it was kept by a William Burton who was a well- respected church warden at that time, After the Sunday church services many had a few glasses of ale in the Thatched House, During that period which I remember, there was a small room behind the bar overlooking the River Calder which was reserved for colliery officials and local businessmen - unofficially, of course - but other than the selected few, others were not made welcome.

There is recorded in Baines Trade Directory, an Inn Keeper of the Thatched House Tavern named S. Holroyd in 1838.

GRAZIERS ARMS, Aberford Road, Stanley The present Graziers was built in 1907. However, in Baines Trade Directory Vol.1 1822 and 1830 it is recorded that William Clegg was the Inn Keeper. So there was a Graziers in the early part of the

19th century. The Graziers Arms is shown on an ordinance map of 1854.

My only personal memories of this public house which was unusual was in the early part of the 1930's; a pianist playing there named William Shepherd was a miner from Newmarket Colliery and he could play good tunes on black notes only. My knowledge of music very limited but I am told to play a tune on a piano in this way is very unusual. So William must have been very gifted and, at the same time, have had a very lively imagination and a fair amount of self discipline to play on black notes only.

BRITISH OAK, Stanley Hill The sketch by Jack Calvert shows the old British Oak in the 1920s, This old 18th century pub, overlooking the village of Stanley, gives some as idea of the beautiful countryside it looked down upon. I remember on one occasion going to this pub with my father. 'We had been walking; it was a hot summers day and he bought me a glass of lemonade. I should be about eight years of age. As one entered there was a central bar and small individual rooms on each side, each room being designed for the tastes and comfort of the customers. The floor was stone flagged and very clean, and shone like the stones on the sand when the ride has washed them clean. The present British Oak was built in the 1930's.

WHEATSHEAF, Stanlev Lane Ends.- was originally a pair of stone cottages, no doubt starting up as an Inn or Ale House by the occupants at that time brewing their own ale. Probably a house of the 18th century, the building was also used over the years as a rest place for horse-drawn traffic and passengers. Accommodation was available to feed and tether horses and was still in existence up to a few years ago but not used.

In the early part of this century there was a bowling green on the same plot of land. One of my grandfathers claimed to have won an important match on this green in his younger days. He was born in 1860 and died in 1925 so it must have been in use for bowling in the 19th century. I remember it being used in the 1920's. For many years in my memory there was little change in the structure of the building. The inside, as was common in many village pubs in those days, consisted of 3 to 4 small rooms, all of which attracted its regular groups of people.

TRAVELLERS, Stanley Lane Ends- The original Travellers was a stone built house built in the early part of the 19th century. In 1922 the landlord was William Cox, at that time a well~known pigeon fancier who raced his pigeons from overseas.

The characteristics I remember most about this public house was a special place in the kitchen for the few ladies who enjoyed a glass of ale. Ladies were not allowed in any of the other rooms. Saturday night provided to my young friends and me special exciting moments. In 1925 when I was ten years of age, we were allowed to stay out late in the summer time and play in the yard of Workhouse Fold, opposite the Travellers. The excitement usually commenced around 10 pm. The local village men, after a full evening's drinking) came out of the public house at closing time which was 10pm. Some were singing and laughing but there was always a few who were quarrelsome and, on most occasions, there was a fight.

Now a fight in those days between two who had a difference of opinion which led to fighting was a man-to-man confrontation with no interference from any of the onlookers. They would take their coats off; roll their sleeves up and square up to each other and the fight commenced. Usually it was a short time effort; they were usually too drunk to carry on for more than a few minutes. Usually the winner was the one who managed to get the first hard blow in on his opponent. When they had finished, they would shake hands and say 'See you next Saturday, old boy'. All good friends; it was part of their week-end entertainment.

The old Travellers was demolished in 1937 and replaced by the Travellers of today. Its landlord was Mr Asquith. The opening of the new Travellers had the Stanley musicians to play music. Jack Ramsden piano, Jack Calvert drums, Joe Bagnall guitar, were all local mineworkers.

WAGON & HORSES, Stanley Lane Ends- Apart from internal changes, this house does not appear to~have changed in structure since it was built. In 1922 it was managed by J. Asquith and the owners were Samuel Smiths, Tadcaster. At that time it was well-known for its bagatelle. This game was played on a table lOft. long x 3ft wide. The table had a slate bed covered with fine baize cloth. The top was shaped in a half circle, the sides having rubber cushions also covered by baize cloth. The balls were 9 in number and the object was to lay the balls into cups let into the table. The cups were numbered 1 to 9; the 9 cup was in the centre, the 1 was in the centre in front of the 9, the others arranged inside the semi-circle of the board and parallel with it at a fixed distance from the cushions.

Six of the balls were white, one black and two red; one of the reds having a distinguished spot on it. The black ball was placed on a spot nine inches below No.1 cup. The first player plays with a red ball and he endeavours to cup one or both balls. If he succeeds he continues to play until he fails to score when his opponent plays with the second red ball. The red and black balls counted double the number of the cup into which they were played and the white balls the number of points in the respective cups they occupied.

There were other variations of the game in which a wood peg was placed in the centre of the table and, if knocked over, the player knocking it over forfeited his points and had to start again. As with most games there was gambling - in this case for small stakes, usually a pint of beer or 3d or 6d. The pianist in the 1930's/40s was usually Les Castle, a Newmarket mine worker who played by ear but had the ability to please all the customers.

SHIP INN, Lee Moor (now Stanley Arms)- The original Ship Inn was a stone building in close proximity to the present building which was built in 1908. In the 19th & early 20th century the old English game of knurr and spell was a popular game enjoyment by miners and agricultural workers in this area. Many games were organised from the Ship Inn; a large cricket field and football field were close by which provided the open space facilities required for this exciting and skilful game.

The game was played with a 'Knurr' - a 1 inch diameter white, glazed potty made out of clay which, when heated in the right conditions, was hard and almost unbreakable. The "Spell' was a framework of wood and within its structure was a tongue of steel with a small brass cup at the end to contain the knurr. This tongue was spring-loaded and, when released by the top of the striking stick, the knurr was flung into the air and it had to be hit by the striking stick - the winner being the competitor who could knock it the greatest distance. 100 yards plus was a common hit. The stick was specially made out of well-seasoned wood, probably a good willow. It would be 3ft to 4ft in length with a knob of 2ins diameter shaped at its end specially for hitting the knurr at a maximum force of contact. It was shaped with a small hollow so that the skilful competitor had as much contact as possible with the knurr on impact. The competitors and spectators usually had a little gamble on the result. Again, an enjoyable sport at a very low cost. Lee Moor was well-known for its Knurr & Spell competitions.

THE SHIP INN, Ferry Lane- I have not been able to trace records as to when this was first used as an Ale House or Public House. There is, however, in Baines Yorkshire Trade Directory a record of a Mary Branham being publican in 1838, and in 1857 a George Armitage who also used the premises for dealings in paint. It would no doubt be used by the River Boat men as an eating and ale house from its beginning, also by mine workers in that area. I best remember it as the headquarters for a soccer team in the early 1920's. They played on a field attached to the public house.

STANLEY WORKING MENS CLUB, Lane Ends- The secretary in 1922 was Joseph Ramsden. This club was well-known for its Bowling Green and sported two good teams which played in the local areas. There was a snooker and billiard team, well respected in the area, who were successful in many competitions. For many years it was the headquarters for the local pigeon club which, over the years, had many outstanding pigeon fanciers who won all the honours possible in the local pigeon racing federation. The Newmarket Colliery Band had its headquarters at this club for many years; it is now based at the Lee Moor Club.

STANLEY VICTORIA CLUB, Aberford Road/Lime Pit Lane - now known as 'Grove Park' and privately owned. Originally it was an all-stone building being part of the Colliery undertaking associated with the Deep Drop Colliery owned by Messrs. R. Hudson and Company and was probably used as office accommodation and stores, It would be built in the early part of the 19th century.

I remember in the early 1930's this club having a Bowling Green which was not always in good condition due to being flooded after heavy rain. Water would settle and often, during a rainy spell, it would be unfit to play on for lengthy periods. The secretary of the club in 1922 was Alfred McDonald. At this time part of the building was used to stable horses belonging to a builder named Bagnall who also kept materials in the yard.

BOTTOMBOAT WORKING MENS CLUB (Clarence Club)-- Built in 1911.

In 1922 the Secretary was Mark Firth. A report by the County Medical Officer James Robert Kaye in May 1901 makes reference to a cottage being used as a club in Bottomboat used by 70 or 80 members and having only joint use of one closet with the tenant of the next cottage.

LEE MOOR WORKING MENS CLUB- was originally built as a private residence by local builders Hanks Bros. Generally these clubs were built by groups of working men on a non-profit basis which enabled the members to purchase beer and spirits at cost price plus the expenditure in maintaining, giving service, mortgage and decorations. Within these clubs there were facilities for entertainment for members and their families. If well organised by a good committee, the beer and spirits were often 20% to 30% less than from public houses, These clubs were affiliated to an organisation which still exists whereby members could use the facilities of most clubs over a very wide area. They also had the benefit of guidance from this Association if required.

Lee Moor and Bottomboat still survive as Working Mens Clubs. The Victoria and Stanley Land End clubs are now privately owned and are managed and organised to sell ale and spirits and give entertainment to the public of 1994.

Stanley has had many changes in my living memory. Mainly the building of properties, road improvements and the vast acreage of agricultural land now being almost obliterated due to the building of houses to meet the increased population in the village.

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