Affetside Village

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Pack Horse Inn History

1890's Photograph with Pack Horse Inn to rear

On the corner of Black Lane and Watling Street lies the Pack Horse Inn which it is said dates back to 1448. It is quite feasible that a building has been on this corner since then, with the Cross marking a busy cross roads junction well used by the pack horse trade and other travellers. It is generally thought that the building at this location was comprised of a smithy and the Public House. There is a well in the cellar of the pub which also served the village in times of drought.

However the earliest Indentures available date from 1st May 1754 when the property was transferred by John Lomax, Yeoman of Brookbottom, Tottington, to John Duckworth, Blacksmith, who then occupied the premises. The lease was for 999 years at an annual rent of eleven shillings. The proper­ty was defined as “All that one Cottage or Dwelling House, One Smithy thereunto adjoining together with one parcel of land adjoining to the east end of the Smithy being at the Black Lane head on Affetside”. The Duckworths were long established in the Affetside area and the Bradshaw Rent Rolls for August 1731 show a payment of is 6d to John Duckworth for smithy work on the Estate. In August 1735 John Duckworth was paid 5s 3d for sharpening Mill Picks and other work for the Corn Mill in Bradshaw, as well as making and supplying nails. It would appear that John, being a blacksmith, left the Alehouse to others.

John Horrocks is named as Licensee of the Pack Horse in 1766 on the first record of the name to be found.

John Duckworth, the blacksmith, wrote his Will in 1764 and died on 24th April 1769. Henry Duckworth took over the smithy, cottage and the Public House, and is named Licensee of the Pack Horse in the Alehouse Records of 1775. By the 1794 Survey, Henry Duckworth was noted as owning or occupying one large House and Brewhouse and one Smithy. He had built on two cottages, one occupied by H. Holt and the other unoccupied. These would be to the rear of the original pub building opposite the gable of No.54 and running along Black Lane.

Henry Duckworth owned and ran the Pack Horse until his death in 1805. His wife Alice died in 1820. Their two daughters Anne (married to Samuel Thweat, Innkeeper) and Richmal (married to Charles Taylor, Mill Warper) continued to own the property until the sale on 2nd July 1868 to John Hutchinson, Beerseller. The Indenture of Sale described the property “That Inn known by the sign of the Pack Horse.” A smithy still existed at this time, although it was converted into a stable soon afterwards. Three cottages were detailed, which subsequently became two. The Inn also had its own Brewhouse. John Hutchinson sold the Pack Horse in 1875 to Daniel Cunliffe, who in turn sold it to John Butterworth in 1881. It remained in the Butterworth family ownership until 1922, however, in that period it was run by a number of licensees. One of these is Richard Warburton, who is listed there in the 1901 Census and he was in partnership with James Howarth, “brewer”, who was living in 1901 at 42 Watling Street. In 1909, John W. Greenhalgh was listed at the inn, with Richard Warburton apparently having moved by this time but the 1911 Census lists him as a “brewer” and living at 100 Booth Street, Walshaw. By 1914, Waburton Brothers, were shown at George Street, Elton, Bury and trading as brewers. Beer was later sold at The Pack Horse and supplied from the Robin Hood Brewery, Tottington. (we are indebted to Mr Keith Osborne for the brewery information, persons and dates relating to Warburton & Howarth)

Beer bottle label from 1903. Photo courtesy of Keith Osborne
1900 map of the Pack Horse

It appears that the Licensee changed often as there is an early photograph (poss abt. 1900) of the pub exterior with “A Baxendale” being noted as the proprietor. On the 1911 Census, William Thomas Aspinall was shown as ‘Innkeeper’. In 1914 it had reverted back to Edward Butterworth, who was the proprietor from 1914 to 1922, and he produced a postcard-sized photograph of the “Pack Horse Inn” with a text inviting visitors to sample the delights of Affetside, which would appear to be based on the earlier postcard produced by A Baxendale.

Marketing postcard produced by A Baxenden - circa 1900. Note the gas lamp outside the pub which is not visible in previous image, thus dating this later
Post WW I Photograph of Pack Horse Inn

"The above inn is one of the oldest licensed houses in the country and is the 'Cat and Fiddle' of Lancashire. it is situated on the highest point of the great Roman Road from Manchester to Ribchester and is in the centre of the vil¬lage near the old Roman Cross and commands pleasing and extensive views of Bolton, Bury, Ramsbottom, Tottington, Walshaw, Turton, Harwood, Holcombe and Grants Tower. Within a distance of two miles from Tottington and Bradshaw electric trams. Grand bracing mountain air."

E. Butterworth. Proprietor.

In 1922, the Butterworth’s sold the Pack Horse to John William Adams, Licensed Victualler, who continued there until after the 1939/45 War. It is not known when the Pack Horse ceased brewing their own beer, but it remained a free house, buying some barrels of beer brewed at the “Robin Hood”, Tottington in the 1920s. As part of the smartening up of the Public House, it was whitewashed after the 1914/18 War and rendered and painted in the late 1950’s. A wooden porch was added to the front of the pub at the same time it was rendered and is still in place.

A pub outing post WWI - digitally coloured. The pub is numbered as 50 Watling Street. Pack Horse cottages are 52 Watling Street
Mrs Nevis getting water from the pump at the Pack Horse c 1950. The pump was behind the timber door bottom right of photo

Hydes’ Anvil Brewery Ltd. of Manchester bought the property from Mrs. Adelaide Smithson in 1965. The car park had already been improved and enlarged by the purchase in 1959 of the plot of land south of the Public House along Watling Street, by John Smithson from the Bleachers Association and with the exception of a lick of paint now and again, and a change of signage it remained largely unaltered.

The pub was run by Neil Hilton from the late 1970’s and throughout the 1980’s until 1991 when it was taken over by Tony Hughes who came to the Pack Horse from The Griffin in Bowdon, Cheshire. The pub had a darts team, pool team and were represented in the local quiz league. There was an annual pub coach trip to Hyde’s Brewery which consisted of a tour of the old ‘Anvil’ Brewery in Moss Side, several sample pints at the brewery bar and then a pie and peas supper back the Pack Horse.  The total cost for this outing was usually five pounds. Tony ran the pub until 2004 when he retired from the trade.

It was subsequently taken over by Jackie and Conrad Thorpe, who were also proprietors of The Shoulder of Mutton at Holcombe Village. In 2006 during their term, the pub had a large rear extension constructed to form a new dining area and provide a larger kitchen. During the construction of this kitchen extension the contractors dug through the village main gas supply running adjacent the pub on Black Lane. The whole village was without gas, and Transco, the gas infrastructure providers at the time had to employ the services of a locksmith to enter people’s houses whilst they were at work to isolate their supplies prior to turning the gas back on. (They are the only people legally allowed to enter a house without the owners prior permission and without a Court issued warrant for entry). The Thorpe’s disappeared suddenly in 2010 leaving many suppliers, including Hyde’s brewery, with large outstanding debts, and a substantial amount of long-standing decorative brassware fixtures in the pub went missing at the same time.

The pub was then taken over by a local pub group known as Lancashire Taverns who owned four pubs in the area; The Shoulder of Mutton in Holcombe Village, Elephant and Castle in Rochdale, The Chetham Arms in Chapeltown and The Pack Horse at Affetside. The Pack Horse was amrketed as a ‘gastropub’ serving high-end food. Lancashire Taverns eventually had financial difficulties and Hydes Brewery took the pub back over in late 2013.

The pub was substantially altered and renovated in December of 2013 and January of 2014 before re-opening in February of 2014 at a cost of approximately £830,000, and the work being carried out in about two months. The pub was no longer a tied house, where the Landlord paid the rent and bought the beer from the brewery, as Hyde’s had changed their business model and placed a salaried manager in the pub after realising that greater profits could be made from selling food than just selling beer alone. As of 2021, this is the current model of operation and Dave Bradshaw has been installed as manager for a number of years. The pub gets exceptionally busy in Summer.

The Pack Horse apart from its own great age, has two other historical con­nections. The skull of the executioner of the Earl of Derby is on display at the bar. There is a separate webpage about this which can be read here.

There is also an alleged association with the so-called counterfeiters James and Joseph Bridge. James and Joseph were handloom weavers, born at Within’s Farm off Hawkshaw Lane, but at the time of the offence lived at Little Bolton. They were arrested in Rochdale for disposing of forged banknotes, which James said he had received some days earlier in payment for some cloth. Several forged notes were passed, most in Rochdale public houses for ale. They were tried at Lancaster Assizes in February 1805 and James was sentenced to be hung while Joseph was sentenced to transportation for life. Joseph arrived in Australia on 12th July 1806 and was freed after seven years service. He later married Elizabeth Buffey, a Lancashire girl also sen­tenced to seven years for stealing clothing. Joseph and Elizabeth had seven sons and the Bridge family eventually grew to several thousands. There is now a thriving Joseph Bridge Family History Society in Australia, many of whom visit our area and the Packhorse in search of their family history. Being so close to their old home on Hawkshaw Lane it is quite likely that the brothers used the Pack Horse as their “local” and they no doubt had relatives amongst the many Bridges in our area.