Monday, 13 January 2014




The  White  Swan  Hotel


The White Swan Inn at Alnwick in Northumberland boasts a very fine dining room within its portals.   The first class lounge from the S.S Olympic, 1910-1936, (twin ship to the legendary S.S Titanic), is reconstructed within the White Swan.  When the Olympic was broken at Jarrow in 1936, the fixtures and fittings were sold off in lots.




 SS Olympic


Ye Olde Cross

Ye Olde Cross Inn in Narrowgate at Alnwick in Northumberland is also known as ‘The Dirty Bottles’. This is due to some old bottles which have been sealed up in the front window for some 200 years.  The story goes that the landlord at that time was putting the bottles in the window space when he dropped dead. His wife declared that there was a curse on the bottles and if anybody attempted to move them, they too would drop dead and the bottles have remained untouched since then.



The Dun Cow


The Dun Cow is a traditional 17th century pub in Old Elvet, Durham, which appears in the Campaign for Real Ale Guide.  It reminds us of Durham’s origins and the legend of the Dun Cow.
St Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne (Holy Island), died in 687 and was buried in Lindisfarne Priory.  In 875, in danger from Danish raiders, the Lindisfarne Congregation left the island and began their ‘wanderings’ through the north of England, taking with them St Cuthbert’s body and other treasures including the Lindisfarne Gospels.  They eventually settled at Chester-le-Street in 882.  Some two hundred years later following further danger the congregation resumed their wanderings and in 995 whilst near to Hetton to the east of Durham, the coffin transport came to a standstill and would not move any further.   After intense meditation the monks prayers were answered when St Cuthbert appeared in the vision of a monk called Eadmer who told them to take the coffin to a place called Dun Holm.  Dun Holm meant Hill Island, later called Duresme and finally Durham.   The monks were then able to continue but nobody seemed to know where Dun Holm was.  Luckily the monks heard a milkmaid asking another milkmaid if she had seen her dun cow and was told that it had been seen grazing near Dun Holm.   The monks followed the milkmaid in her search for her cow and thus arrived at the appointed place on a premonitory of a peninsular in the River Wear.   Here they built a ‘White Church’ as a shrine for St Cuthbert’s relics, and so the Cathedral and the City of Durham was founded.

The Turk's Head


he very fine market cross in the Market Place at Barnard Castle in Co Durham, dates back to 1747.  The equally fine weather vane on the building has two bullet holes in it!

In 1804 a soldier and a gamekeeper were drinking in the Turks Head pub some 100 yards from the market cross when they developed an argument over who was the better shot.  The upshot was that they went outside the pub and selected the weather vane as a target.  They each took a pot shot and amazingly they both hit the target.  Apparently they agreed to call it a draw and returned to the pub to celebrate.


The  Drunken  Duck


Formerly the Barngate Inn near to the village of Outgate just north of Hawkshead in Cumbria, The Drunken Duck Inn obviously has a story to tell.   Apparently a Victorian landlady found her six ducks lying ‘dead’ outside and she started to pluck them ready for the oven.  However,. She soon found that they were not dead – they were drunk!   It seems that a barrel of beer in the cellar had leaked into the duck’s feeding ditch!   The distraught lady, it is said, knitted woollen jackets for the ducks until their feathers grew again!

The New Hall Inn

This pub in Lowside at Bowness in Cumbria dates to 1612 and is better known as 'Hole in t'wall' due to the fact that it adjoined the old blacksmith's shop. Apparently the thirsty smithy made a hole in the joint wall so that his ale could easily be passed through. The hole has now been enlarged into a doorway and the old smithy is now part of the pub. An inscription on a beam reads: 'The blacksmith he did sweat in here and slake his thirst on Hartley's ale'.  Thomas Longmire, champion wrestler of England and holder of 174 belts, was landlord 1852-1862. It is said that he was visited by Dickens in 1857 who described him as a quiet looking giant.

The Miles Thompson

The Wetherspoon chain has pubs in converted buildings in many towns and Kendal is no exception. The Miles Thompson in All Hallows Lane was formerly a washhouse and bathhouse known as Shearman House and is named after the designer.
 See  photograph of descriptive plague on the building.

The  Guide  over  the Sands  Inn
The curiously named  Guide Over the Sands Inn at Allithwaite in Cumbria, overlooking the northern part of Morecambe Bay, reminds us of the ancient routes which actually cross over the wide bay when the tide is out.  Before the advent of more efficient transport, it was quicker for people to travel that way than overland.  However, the quicksands, shifting fogs and sudden tides, made the crossing of these routes a dangerous business, indeed the Tidal Race, occurring every 12 hours, can out run a galloping horse.  Very few people can identify the safe paths across the sands when the tide is out and eventually The Queen’s Official Guides to the Sands of Morecambe Bay  were appointed to ensure the safe passage of travellers.
Every day the sands are different as the sea washes away old tracks making the job of the guide extremely hazardous.  The official guide still lives at Cartmell and his house is surrounded by laurel bushes whose leaves he uses to mark the safe routes across the Bay.  The appointment is funded by the Queen, as a service to the public from the Duchy of Lancaster.
It is still possible to make such walks to this day, but only the foolhardy would attempt such crossings without the  guide!   
The  Pump House 

Many of the old dock buildings on Liverpool’s re-claimed waterfront, have been converted to a variety of uses, whilst retaining the ambience of a by gone age.   The old pump house has been completely renovated and now houses a very fine riverside pub



Albert and the Lion
This pub on the promenade next to the Tower reminds us of Stanley Holloway's famous monologue about young Albert Ramsbottom and his encounter with the lion at the zoo :
"There's a famous seaside place called Blackpool that's noted for fresh air and fun and Mr & Mrs Ramsbottom went there with Albert their son ............"


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