Updated: Jan 30, 2022
Those in the number seven shirt have always been the stars. Always visible. Always where the action is. Always involved. I have even been known to pull on that shirt myself when team selection issues couldn't be solved in any other, more sensible, manner. In fact, the rather unsuccessful rugby tour which took me back to Great Yarmouth and a pint in the now lost Admiral Seymour is a fine example of that occurring.
My performances as an openside flanker didn't scatter much stardust. Certainly nothing compared to that tossed around by the likes of Jean-Pierre Rives – France's Casque d'Or of the 70's and 80's...
or Neil Back – one of England's World Cup winners from 2003...
and, not ignoring the ladies, Dr. Claire Molloy – Ireland's stalwart of seventy-four caps who has put her development as an A&E medic on hold for a year to enable her to cause chaos and mayhem with Wasps on a Saturday afternoon, rather than have to deal with the chaos and mayhem of a Saturday night.
Why all this stuff about rugby? Well, it gives me the opportunity to refer to that earlier post on the lost Admiral Seymour as well as to produce a very tenuous and contrived link jumping, as I'm about to, from 'three number seven stars' to the 'three in number Seven Stars' that Derby used to have. Yep, over the years Derby has had at least three boozers with that name. The one on King Street is still in existence and I've even supped in it, but the one on the corner of Leaper and Brook Streets has gone as has the one on Nottingham Road. Let's start with the latter as it's the latter which started me off on this theme.
A while ago now I came across an image from a grotty old glass negative of a bridge whose whereabouts was uncertain but might possibly have been in Derby. After spending a not inconsiderable amount of time with a photo-editor – no, not Photoshop. After all, other image manipulation software is available – I ended up with the view posted below.
It does indeed show St. Mary's Bridge crossing the River Derwent in Derby with the currently closed Bridge Inn/Waterside Inn to the left and the old maltings in the centre of shot. In front of them appears to be a pub, something which is confirmed by an inspection of the old Ordnance Survey map of the area...
...and if we look a little closer we can see that it's called the Old Seven Stars and also that it's selling Eadie's Burton Ale.
Situated on the Derwent's east bank, at the point where the road splits – heading for Mansfield in one direction and Nottingham in the other – the inn would've been in a prime location for travellers coming into the town. It was certainly in existence in 1829 when it was in the charge of Thomas Tatlow.
Glover's similar offering from the same year also tells us that Thomas Tatlow also had a fine bowling green to attend to.
It's to be noticed that the pub isn't 'old' in these entries but it has become so by 1835. Perhaps Mister Tatlow decided it needed the adjective to distinguish it from the other Seven Stars in town or perhaps it was a sly marketing move to get himself and the inn listed twice in the same publication. In 1835 he's to be found on both Mansfield and Nottingham Roads. Old in one location and not so in the other.
By 1911 the pub was in the hands of Fred Wildsmith, who we saw in the previous post had been not too far away at the White Bear Inn at some point. Fred may very well have been the final landlord, for The Old Seven Stars closed shortly before the First World War, possibly as a result of the 1904 Licensing Act. At some point it was demolished. When? I don't know, but I'm pretty certain it'd gone by the time I moved to Derby in 1980. The site is currently under the footprint of the city's Landau Forte College.
What of the Seven Stars on Brook Street? Sometimes shown to be on Brook Street whilst at others it was on Leaper Street. The reason for this is not too difficult to explain as it was to be found on the north-east corner of the two roads' intersection.
The earliest reference to it as a pub that I have found is in Pigot's 1842 directory where it is sandwiched between its two namesakes.
Whilst this is the earliest reference to it as a pub that I've come across, the record of the poll to elect two MPs to represent the Borough of Derby in 1837 shows us that a Robert Longdon cast his two votes for Edward Strutt, Esq. and The Hon. John G. B. Ponsonby. No private ballots in those days. Why he preferred the Whig pair over the Conservative couple – The Hon. Francis Curzon and Charles Robert Colville, Esq. – we'll never know. That polling record gives him as living in UPPER Brook Street...
...which is how some directories described the address of the Seven Stars. Maybe he was running the pub as early as at least 1837. If so, did it have a bowling alley?
Whenever it started its life a a pub it's certainly not one now. It was still in operation during the Second World War when Charles Rushton was mine host...
...but today it is long gone. In all likelihood lost to the redevelopment of the area which took place in the late 1960s and '70s. Where it once stood is a grassy square and some trees.
Just as Rives, Back and Molloy have left the international rugby scene, the Derby pub scene has lost its own pair of seven stars.
Edit: 30th January 2022
A day after publishing this post I heard from David Browne that his grandparents, Jack and Blanche Cadman, were the last landlord and landlady of the Seven Stars on the corner of Brook Street and Leaper Street. It seems that the pub closed in 1960/61 before be demolished as Derby's West End was redeveloped.
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