Nostalgia: A multitude of drinking dens

070247c   Kath Duffy celebrates 25 years at the Newcastle Packet pub on West Sandgate, on Friday.  in B10/news     10/1/07    pic AH
070247c Kath Duffy celebrates 25 years at the Newcastle Packet pub on West Sandgate, on Friday. in B10/news 10/1/07 pic AH

Apart from its premier coaching inns, Regency Scarborough had a multitude of drinking dens, respectable and otherwise. Starting down at the harbour front, it then seemed that almost every other address served the needs of thirsty fishermen, ship-building workers and passing-trade merchant seamen.

The Sailors’ Return, on Fowler’s Hill, near the building stocks, and the Shipwrights’ Arms nearby are self-explanatory. The latter was run by William Lancaster, who after 40 years as proprietor in 1879 gave his name to the present public house at 45 Sandside. Incidentally, therefore, the Lancaster has no connection with the royal house of that name or a World War Two British bomber plane.

The Spread Eagle, on a site now occupied by the North Wharf, was one of the many casualties of the clearance and widening of Sandside in the 1890s. Spread Eagle Lane also disappeared at the same time.

The original Golden Ball was in Quay Street. It was later demolished along with much else by the Gas Company to make room for their works there. For centuries the old Golden Ball was famous for its special own brew of prime old ale, produced on St Jerome’s Day, September 30, when the Corporation met to elect its new officers at Sandside’s nearby Common Hall. Another victim of the gas works on Quay Street was the White Hart.

Most of the pubs on Sandside and Quay Street and the steep lanes and steps leading down to them have long since been swept away or their buildings altered beyond recognition. The old Dog and Duck has become part of the Lancaster; the old Long Room survives merely as the name of a side passage. Names such as the Buoy Inn, the King’s Arms and the Ship have gone without evident trace, but the Newcastle Packet, named after the fast boats which brought mail and passengers to Scarborough from Newcastle, still flourishes. In East Sandgate there used to be the Sunderland Bridge. One curiosity at 7 Sandside was the Beehive, so-called because of its narrow, tall shape, squeezed into what is now a passage next to the old Customs House.

The Old Globe Inn has left no trace of its existence except the name of the street which it used to dominate. It once provided stabling for the first Royal Mail coach and horses and was the headquarters of the earliest Freemasons’ Lodge. Globe Street was previously called Stockdale Street after William Stockdale who owned the Globe Inn for many years. In the same street was the Three Tuns, run by Betty Chatham and therefore familiarly known as “Cheat’em”.

The construction of the covered Market Hall in 1853 was meant to end the open street markets in Newborough and Low Conduit Street, but it also eliminated many old public houses on the site, the Elephant and Castle, the Wheatsheaf and Letters in Cross Street, the White Bear and Fountain in St Helen’s Square and the Stag and Hounds above the old shambles. Strangely, Letter(s) was a most common name in Scarborough: at various times there were as many as ten licensed houses of that name.

The Golden Last in Carr (Cross) Street was re-built and enlarged several times. In 1800 it was one of several houses notorious for its part in the smuggling trade, especially in gin. At the back in the kitchen a large underfloor space stored gin tubs brought up from the shore. At this time, contraband was more profitable than honest trade.

When Scarborough borough council carried out the street re-alignments to create Eastborough in 1854-6, there were more losses of established public houses. Two known victims were the Mariners’ Tavern and the Pannierman’s Arms on Merchant’s Row, though there the Old Post Office Tavern, known locally as the Widows’ Retreat, survived at least until 1915.

Newborough retained most of its houses, though some expanded their premises and made themselves into inns. Contrary to its name, the New Inn was one of the town’s oldest. On the other side of the road, just inside Newborough Bar, the Nag’s Head, later became Miller’s after the family which owned it, then the Bar Hotel and finally the Huntsman. The same transformation from town tavern to coaching inn happened to the (Pied) Bull, Without-the-Bar, the George in lower Newborough, and the Talbot in Queen Street.

In the late 1700s, Long Room (St Nicholas) Street was not the street it became in the next century of banks, high-class shops, hotels and the Town Hall. Where Barclays bank now stands majestically on the corner with Newborough, there was the Black Swan and at other places on both sides there were the Mariners, the Coach and Horses, the Foresters and the Hand of Providence. Another street that now no longer boasts a single pub, King Street, was once favoured with several, the New Inn, the King’s Arms, the York hotel, and finally the Star (formerly the Cabbage) which closed in 1969.

Not all Scarborough’s houses were merely drinking dens for local tipplers: some of the larger ones were meeting places for tradesmen, where bargains were struck and both pick-up points and destinations for commercial goods. In 1800 there were twice-weekly goods carts travelling to and from Leeds, Hull, Pickering and Whitby. These carts also carried people too poor to buy tickets for stagecoaches.

At Scarborough, these horse-drawn carts operated to and from the Bay Horse at 8 Queen Street, the Fountain in Leading Post Street, the Star and the King’s Arms in King Street, the White Bear at 8 St Helen’s Square, the Old Globe at 16 Globe Street, and the London and New Inns in Newborough.

Between the Bar and down to St Helen’s Square, Newborough was Scarborough’s principal Thursday street market. Almost every commodity was offered for sale there. Near the Bar you could buy books, baskets and ropes; at the end of Tanner (St Thomas) Street, there was pottery and hardware; at the end of Long Room Street, you would find poultry, butter and eggs; in King Street, fruit and vegetables; and at Queen Street, shoes, hats and clothing. In deference to superior visitors, pigs were no longer for sale in Tanner Street or live cattle in the Queen Street beast market.