The Old Crown Inn c1828 Herbert St John Jones credit Nantwich Musuem (2016_07_31 18_07_26 UTC)

A book published by Nantwich Museum on the history of Nantwich Pubs has proved a massive hit.

The first edition sold out within a few weeks of the launch and a second edition has been produced to cater for the Christmas market.

The book was written by local historians Andrew Lamberton and Bill Pearson, and tells the history of the town’s pubs.

Material came from a wide range of sources, including the museum’s extensive collection of documents and pictures, as well as documents held in Cheshire Archives.

These include stories about customers and staff running the pubs, as well as stories about the many historic buildings in the town that have been pubs.

There are tales of ghosts, murder, mayhem and illegal activities reflecting some interesting aspects of life in the market town.

Researching the book presented some problems, as there was often more than one pub with the same name.

Inside the Railway from John Hickson (2)
Inside the Railway, from John Hickson

Nantwich has had three pubs called the Black Horse, three Horse and Grooms, three Red Cows and three Red Lions!

Often names would move with the landlord, if they moved premises.

In the past, many pubs would make their own beer, and Nantwich even had more than one dedicated brewery.

The authors said many people from the area volunteered pictures and stories to contribute to the book.

One example was a Tavern Survey of Nantwich pubs, carried out by graduate apprentices at Rolls Royce in Crewe around 1960.

The apprentices used a systematic approach to analyse the town’s pubs:

The comments were not always complimentary! In one pub, the review of the Light Ale was “if drunk with a clothes peg over the nose, is passable. Otherwise a foul odour”!

In another pub, they described the bitter as “absolutely foul. Exceptionally vinegary. A putrid drink. NOT RECOMMENDED”.

They also reviewed some of the customers.

In one, it said: “One old Dabber was a bit confused about some Poplar trees cut down about 36 years ago. He is also fond of the Browning .303 machine gun” as well as the pubs themselves.

Other comments included: “Not a place to buy shares in” and “Not recommended except for taking Grandma out for a drink”!

Railway Vaults
Railway Vaults

In 1901, the landlady of The Railway Vaults (now a corner of Morrisons car park) was prosecuted for selling beer containing arsenic to a 13-year-old boy!

The record for the longest serving landlord probably belongs to William Oates, who was at the Lamb Hotel for at least 53 years.

Whilst The Lamb Hotel has long gone, the building is still there on Hospital Street. In some of the windows of Aroma Cafe Bar there are still lamb motifs.

The book also relates the tragic tale of Annie Robinson, a 68-year-old actress (of no fixed abode), who was charged with breaking a window at the Red Lion on Oatmarket.

Her defence was “it was an accident, I meant to hit the policemen and not the window”!

She told Nantwich magistrates (in 1944) that she liked to be in gaol and wished she could stay there.

Annie had 68 previous convictions, including 35 for being drunk and disorderly and doing wilful damage, and 33 for larceny and false pretences. Her record dated back to 1907.

The story of Nantwich pubs continues, with several new premises opening in the town in recent years.

“Nantwich Pubs” is available from Nantwich Museum. All profits from sales go to the museum.

The Lamb Hotel
The Lamb Hotel

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