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Pubs, Inns, etc in Beeston

© David Hallam - 2023

Individual Inns & Pubs in Beeston - T-W

Details of Other Beeston Pubs: B - C   D - J   M - Q   R - S   T - W

The White Lion - this pub, prominently situated on the south-west corner of what are now Middle Street and Station Road, has a long history. The building which stands there today (2023), as we will see, is a relatively modern one and has recently (in 2023) undergone renovation to appeal to present-day needs, but its history goes back much further - in fact, to at least the later part of the 18th century.

In 1787, the site was acquired by one William Day who had been born in nearby Attenborough in 1750, a son of Henry Day and his wife Isabel (née Towle. William had lived and worked as a framework knitter in Beeston for much of his life and, in 1785, he had married Catherine Calledine, the daughter of Thomas and May Calledine, who had originated in Ilkeston, Derbyshire. The couple went in to have at least twelve children between 1787 and 1809. Whilst not all survived, some of those who did were to go on to make their mark on aspects of the site with some being mentioned in this account.

The site had prominent frontages on what was then Market Street (now Middle Street) and Brown Lane (eventually renamed Station Road when it was extended south) down to Nether Street. The western boundary was less clear but it lay approximately in the region of Moore Gate. Then, Beeston had a population of less than 1000, largely contained in the ancient village core and surrounded by sparsely populated farm land, much of which was still enclosed. With what is now the High Road forming part of the route of the Nottingham to Sawley turnpike, Market Street would have been a particularly important, everyday road within that village core, the more so with its juxtaposition with Brown Lane, and could be seen as the centre of the village at that time. William Day wasted no time in taking advantage of the site's potential. Thus, in 1797 he had opened a beer house on the site, called The White Lion, with William Day himself as its licensee.

Although the White Lion was always the most prominent building on the site, inevitably for such a prominent location, other buildings were added, notably a smithy - particularly appropriate for such a central location - a brew house, a stable, a butcher's shop and several tenanted homes. As the pub developed, a large club-room (which became a particulatly valuable feature over the years) and a skittle alley were added. It seems that the brew house and stable, at least, became part of what is now the Star Inn which, itself, became a separate entity and will be described as such under that heading when the story of the pub is given. The smithy can be seen as the originator of the later smithy that traded on Wollaton Road until relatively recently. Its originator was William Dix who married Isabella Day, another daughter of William and Catherine Day. As Dix originated from Staffordshire, we can speculate that he came to Beeston to be apprenticed at the smithy on the White Lion site, met Isabella and settled in Beeston. There is a fuller account of this here.

White Lion Sale In August 1815, aged 64, William Day died and was buried in Beeston churchyard. Somewhat remarkably, Catherine, his widow, married widower William Wilson only about two months later and was able to take over the licence to the operation of the White Lion. Wilson, about 20 years older than Catherine, died in 1829 but Catherine was able to continue to run the White Lion up to her own death in 1839, aged 71. The White Lion and its surroundings were then offered for sale by auction (see right) and the purchaser was one Joseph Clarkson who held the licence there for a short time before moving on with little trace. In fact, it appears that by early in 1840, John Dean, with the help of his wife Amy, one of William and Catherine Day's daughters, had taken over the pub while ownership was in transition. In April 1843, the White Lion and its associated building was again offered for auction, this time by one Edward Smith - currently unidentified but likely the mortgage holder (particularly likely as he offered possible mortgage terms to any purchaser). In the event, the purchaser was John Dean who took ownership and possession with his wife and family.

In fact, the White Lion was now back in the control of elements of the original landlord's family - Amy Dean being the daughter of William & Catherine Day who had married John Dean at St Marys Church, Nottingham in April 1825 and had gone on to have five children. In the event, John Dean died in October 1847, aged only 49 after which Amy, his widow. continued as the pub's landlord and did so until her death in March 1864, aged 61. Both were buried in Beeston Churchyard where Amy's memorial still survives.

The White Lion was then acquired my William Flewitt who was John & Amy Dean's son-in-law, having married Catherine Dean, their daughter in April 1852 at St Marys Church, Nottingham. William born in Nottingham in about 1825, was the son of William and Mary (née Ball) who had each arrived in Nottingham, from Lincolnshire by the time of their marriage at St Marys Church in April 1852 and went on to develop a successful bakery. In that tradition, their son William developed a successful business in Notttingham as a plumber and glazier. By his early 20s he was already employing two men, and this was eventually to grow to ten or more over time. Now he, alongside his wife, took on the White Lion with his usual energy and enthusiasm while continuing to head-up his still-growing plumbing business and, in due course, taking a leading role in launching the various land societies that were to change the face of Beeston. This was to continue right up to his death in December 1882, aged only 57 after which is wife retired from her role at the White Lion and moved to live on Queens Road, Beeston. She died in August 1903 and was buried with her husband in Beeston churchyard where their memorial stone survives.

Looking at the next 50 or so years, it now seems that the end of Flewitt's time at the White Lion marked the end of an era defined and held together by the wider Day family and was the beginning of a period in which a large number of licencees came and went. If, as is likely, this was an indication that each was unable to make an adequate living, it appears most likely that this was because the premises had become less attractive - likely dated, rundown and badly positioned - when compared to the competition - which, in the main, was also now better situated now that the centre of Beeston had moved more towards the High Road. It was also about this time that the premises were taken over by Home Brewery Company who, as was often the case, staffed their premises with self-employed tenants who were not always experienced in the trade.
The first White Lion licencee to show that tendency was James Frederick Price. He was born in Gotham, Nottinghamshire in 1858 and was now trading as a builder and contractor in Nottingham. As such, it seems very likely that he had known William Flewitt and was looking to emulate his success. However, in the event, he and his wife Christina Mary (née Peberdy) did not continue with the venture very long but he was to continue his contractor's business with considerable success up to his early death, aged 47, in 1905. So, by 1988, the licensee was William Francis Delmer, born in Maidstone, Kent, the son of a retired Army officer with no apparent previous connection with the Nottingham area. He and his wife appear to have offered hotel facilities alongside the usual trade as a Public House. But, by 1901, they had moved on and were to go on take various position in the brewery trade, such as in 1911 when he can be found keeping an inn in Liverpool.

The next licencee, George Carl Vernon Smith, was clearly a versatile man. Born in Somercotes, Derbyshire in 1859, the son of a framework knitter, he had married Sarah Wigley in 1885 after which they moved to Nottingham where George worked for about 2½ years as a pianist and baritone vocalist at the Boulevard Hotel, Radford and later taught music before moving to the White Lion by 1901. In 1903, he left to take over the tenancy of the Grove Hotel, Lenton and, by 1908, The Midland Hotel, Buxton, Derbyshire. By 1911, he was the tenant at the Station Hotel, Vernon Road, Basford and had a short change of direction in around 1914 when he ran the Carlton Café near Nottingham Station for a while. A succession of tenancies continued up to his retirement, as a widower. to Matlock where he died in July 1941.

Following immediately afterwards was Joseph Cawthorne who was again there only for a short time, having left by 1906, to move to 96 Chilwell Road, Beeston and later High Road, Chilwell where he operated a beer-off.

The next White Lion licencee was Harry Thomas Somerby who was born, the son of a farmer, in Bridgenorth, Shopshire in 1882. He arrived in Beeston in July 1903, with his wife Ann (née Scarlett), from Sheffield where he had been working in the steel industry. Two of their four surviving children were born in Beeston in 1906/7. before their return to Sheffield where, by 1911, Harry was working as a barman and Ann was operating a confectionary shop. Tragically, Harry died in July of that year leaving a small estate. Ann remained a widow with three of their four children remaining single and living with her. Happily, all did well - the eldest son became a manager of a wholesale tobacconist, two other sons were teachers - one becoming, a headmaster - and the daughter became an physical training instructor. Ann died in May 1954, leaving a then good-sized estate.

Next to take on the licence was Charles Thornton who probably was there from about 1909/10 but for only a short time as he left to become the proprietor of the Pier Hotel, Skegness. He died there, suddenly in 1922. He was followed at the White Lion by Eliza A Crossland (née Twigger, whose father, John Twigger, had run the Magna Charta Inn on Wilford Road, Nottingham up to his death in 1885. In 1890, Eliza had married Horace Crossland, then a well-established provision merchant but, from 1908 they appear to have bought and sold, in her name, the tenancies of a series of public houses in the Nottingham area - the Nags Head, Nottingham from December 1908 to April 1910, the Poets Corner on Kirkwright Street, Nottingham from April 1910 and then, from about 1912, the White Lion, Beeston where they stayed until January 1913. If nothing else, this series of short-term tenancies appears to be an indication of the state of the trade at that time and also seems to show the potential for profiting by buying and selling tenancies for those with the experience and resources. In the event, for Horace and Eliza, it would appear to have been the last such move and they were to spend the remainder of their lives in Beeston.

So it was that the next licencee at the White Lion was Percy Loft Lambert, a previously failed lace manufacturer who, in 1912 - just the previous year - had been forced to settle with his creditors at 7/6d in the £. Born in Nottingham in 1872, he had been raised by relatives before starting a career as a bank clerk but, after marrying Frances A Moss in 1895, he tried to support a grander style of living by entering into the cigar-making industry before the unfortunate venture into lace manufacture. The couple's tenure at the White Lion was short - they left in January 1915 - and they moved to live in the Brentford/Chiswick area.

John Shaw, who had previously been the tenant at The Star, adjacent to the White Lion, took over from Lambert and stayed there unto April 1917, when the licence was taken up by George Augustus Lawton, the son of Sarah Lawton (née Buxton) who was the licensee at the Victoria Hotel, Beeston for about 20 years, up her death in 1924, and had had early experience of the licenced trade when she lived with her mother at her uncle's pub, the Brick and Tile Inn in Sutton-in-Ashfield. George's father, David Andrew Lawton, had died in 1910. George married Sarah Buxton, the daughter of Walter Buxton, a licenced victualler in Skegness, in December 1916 at Beeston Parish Church. By 1925, George appears to have taken over the Victoria Hotel tenancy following his mother's death. Sometime, by 1939, he was keeping the Red Lion in Shardlow, Derbyshire, with his wife and daughter, and died in 1945 in Nottingham.

Little is known about the tenants at the White Lion for the next ten years, although it seems likely that, in its then condition, it was unlikely that it would have attracted any long-stayers. It was time for the owners to do something about it.
So it was, by 1934, that Home Breweries, the then owners of the White Lion, took the decision to fully renovate the building to make it attractive to both customer and tenant. Plans were prepared to transform the building in the fashionable Art Deco style to become the building that remained essentially unchanged - except, as we will see, for its surroundings - until its recent major transformation in 2023. These plans were approved by Beeston Council in February 1935 and it re-opened in 1936 as The White Lion Hotel. Its all-over white appearance, distinct new style, arched gateways to both Middle Street and Station Road and, perhaps most of all, the carved full-size stone lion that lay initially over the Station Road gateway certainly made the difference and gave the establishment a new lease of life.

The licensee at the time of this reopening was Charles Alfred John Palmby who, with his wife, Inez Constance (née Smith), became the excellent management team that was needed. Charles, the son of a British Army officer, was born in India in 1905 and was brought to England as a small child and brought up in Wisbech. Lincolnshire. Inez was born in Great Yarmouth in 1910, the daughter of Arthur Frank Smith who ran a pub there. Charles and Inez married in 1930 and their only child, a daughter, was born in the following year.

White Lion When war came in 1939, Charles did not hesitate but enlisted with the RAF immediately and Inez took over the Licence and ran the White Lion during the whole of the war years. For his part, Charles held a Commission with the RAF as a Wing-Commander, that saw him serve mainly in the Middle and Far East, latterly as Staff Officer in the Far East Headquarters in Changi, Singapore. After the war, his wife and daughter were able to join him in Singapore before they all returned to England and civilian life in 1954. Charles then took a position as General Sales Manager with Shipsides, the Nottingham Morris car distributors and, in 1968, he was appointed Regional Organiser for the British Heart Foundation and was able to make a considerable contribution to its success up to his sudden death in 1978. His widow died in 1998.

The White Lion continue to serve Beeston throughout the post-war period but perhaps one drawback was that the building sat behind a row of terraced houses on one side, with their front doors opening directly onto Station Road and a row of run-down shops (including "Ma Bailey's" fishing tackle shop where anglers could buy maggots!) on Middle Street. Things improved when the roads were widened in the 1960s when these houses and shops were demolished, giving a much clearer view of the pub. It was at this time that the carved lion was moved to its present position over the door onto Station Road. The image on the right shows the White Lion after the frontage was cleared.

The White Lion continued serving its purpose as a typical local pub, and the next event of any importance came in 2013 when, following an extensive internal refurbishment, the tenancy was taken over by Portuguese national Sergio Rocha, who also provided pub grub. He hosted many local events to raise money for local charities, and both the pub and upstairs function room saw regular use for meetings by local societies such as the Civic Society and U3A.

Sergio quit the pub in mid-2019, and it remained closed for about a year, until it reopened in July 2020, following the Covid lockdown, but only for about three weeks. It was then boarded up and remained so until 2023.

The Home Brewery Company, which owned the pub, had been taken over by Scottish and Newcastle Brewery in 1986, and they in turn were taken over by Heineken in 2008. A subsidiary of Heineken is Star Pubs and Bars, based in Leeds, and in July 2021 they announced plans to spend almost a ½ million pounds to completely refurbish the White Lion, once a new tenant was found. In March 2021 it was announced that the Lincoln Green Brewing Company, based in Hucknall, was to take over operation and refurbishment work commenced. It reopened on 11 July 2023. Lincoln Green now run it as two separate, but linked, parts, the White Lion Pub on Middle Street, painted in its traditional white and concentrating on offering their range of real ales, and the Blackshale Bar and Kitchen to the rear, as an up-market Gastro Pub, painted in a very dark shade of green. 'Blackshale' is the name of a particular type of coal formerly mined at Hucknall Colliery.

One item of local controversy has been the decision to paint the iconic statue of the white lion in the same dark green colour!

We acknowledge. with thanks, the advice and encouragement of Alan & Carol Dance in the preparation of this piece.

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