Old Penrith pubs: General Wolfe, Ship and others

Old Penrith pubs – an introduction

Pubs are a key part of the very fabric of Britain – like tea, and Marmite, only centuries older (!). But in recent times, they have been disappearing at a rapid rate off our high streets and street corners.

Since 2000, a quarter of pubs have closed in the UK, totalling more than 13,000 locations. Four out of five people have seen a pub close down within five miles of their home.

Thing is, pub closures aren’t actually that new.

The General Wolfe: last survivor in Little Dockray

Walk up/down Little Dockray, in Penrith, today, and you can still enjoy a drink and food in the General Wolfe, which truly ranks among old Penrith pubs as both old and a survivor. 

General James Wolfe became a national hero because of the British victory in 1759 over the French in Quebec. He died of wounds in the battle, but was honoured by statues – and in the name of pubs.

Search on ‘history’ and all I could find was a claim (no source) that that Penrith’s General Wolfe pub started as a funeral parlour, converting to a pub ‘in the 1800’ (sic).

(If anyone knows more, do get in touch).

It looked to have reached the end of the line in 1995, a story that backs up the first section of this post:

Happily, that wasn’t the end. But as I said at the start, it is the only pub left in Little Dockray.

And the others all went many, many years ago.

I’ll revisit them (I know of five) another time.

Old Penrith pubs: a link between three

The General Wolfe featured in my post on pig sties. As did the Ship, in Middlegate, through then landlord William Thornburrow, who kept pigs in Fell Lane.

The Ship (main photo) closed in 1936, and was demolished to make way for Burtons.

Meanwhile, I mentioned another long-gone Penrith pub, the Bell and Bullock, in my post on 14 King Street.

Here’s a report of a licensing hearing that ties:

  • a Little Dockray pub (the Blue Bell);
  • the Ship, in Middlegate, and;
  • the Bell and Bullock, King Street

Cumberland & Westmorland Herald. Saturday, 14 September, 1895.

The Ship.

Mr C H Allan applied for the temporary transfer of the licence at present held by William Thornburrow, for the Ship Inn, to James Hetherington, at present landlord of the Blue Bell Inn, in Little Dockray, but who had now taken the Ship, which inn Mr Thornburrow was leaving that day.

He (Mr Allan) also applied for the renewal of the Ship licence at the end of the present year to Mr Hetherington.

William Thornburrow had been convicted for serving alchohol outside hours, and the brewery had given him notice to quit.

Mr Glasson was anxious to keep his houses perfectly respectable, and on the conviction of William Thornburrow, who was under very stringent terms, immediately gave him a month’s notice to quit.

 Mr Allan said that Mr Hetherington’s mother-in-law would manage the Blue Bell until Martinmas.

What he (Mr Allan) practically asked for was a transfer of the existing licence for next year to Hetherington, who had held a licence fo a considerable time without anything against him, and was in every way a suitable person.

The Bell and Bullock

Mr Allan further applied on behalf of William Thornburrow, the present tenant of the Ship, for a temporary transfer from George Richardson for the licence of the Bell and Bullock.

Mr Richardson was leaving the Bell and Bullock and Mr Thornburrow had taken if from the owners.

With the exception of the case a fortnight ago, there had been nothing against Thornburrow and he had held the licence during the last 18 years.

He had had a very difficult house to conduct and he must have excercised very great care in steering clear.

The recent case against him was not a serious one. There was no drunkenness and the house was not open to the public generally, but they committed the mistake of allowing two gentlemen to remain in the house after hours, and that was brought about by the fact that they were in the company of bona fide travellers.

Mr Allan said that the bench had already inflicted what they thought a suitable penalty and he would ask the bench not to penalise Mr Thornburrow further after having been convicted and paid the penalty.

The bench retired to consider all the licensing cases before them.

On their return, the chairman said that in the case of the Ship, they had agreed to give a temporary transfer to Mr James Hetherington, and also to renew to him for next year the certificate fo the licence of the house. 

It must be understood, however, that he did not go on with the Blue Bell.

In the case of the Bell and Bullock the bench decided NOT to grant the temporary authority applied for by William Thornburrow.

Mr Glasson was from Glassons breweries. I found a list here of all their old Penrith pubs (and others elsewhere in Cumbria). Cumbrians can tick off which are still in existence.