All Change At The White House.

The previous post on Homesford Cottage was the result of pre-op purdah being suspended as a result of a cancellation. I am still no longer in pre-op purdah. I'm now in post-op purdah. Also the result of a cancellation. This time though, a cancellation that worked in my favour.


The surgeon has wielded his knife. I have to admit that the anaesthetist looked about sixteen as he connected his concoction of chemicals to the cannula in the back of my hand. The cannula which had been inserted by a theatre nurse who seemed to be a couple of years younger still. At least the sister in the recovery ward looked as if she'd taken her A-Levels as she brought me an almost continual supply of coffee and toast. One can really get a taste for toast made from white plasticky bread after not having consumed anything but pharmaceuticals for twenty hours. Its tendency to weld itself to the roof of one's mouth with saliva-defying obstinacy being greatly countered by the frequent flood tides of Nescafé flowing over it. Those frequent flood tides soon resulted in the third requirement for discharge, the first two being eating and drinking, so home I went.


Now, as already noted, I'm in post-op purdah. Post-op purdah includes a fortnight ban on pedalling. This blow is offset to some degree by an identical length ban on housework, but it means that the intention to ride a little further south along the A6 to capture a picture of the former White House in Ambergate has had to be put aside. Instead here's a shot taken earlier this year by Ian Calderwood.


Before around 1820 Ambergate didn't exist. The opening of the new road between Belper and Cromford produced a toll gate close to the confluence of the River Amber with the Derwent – hence Ambergate. Prior to that the cluster of buildings a little to the south was known as Toadmoor, or variations thereof, from the Derbyshire expression t'owd moor – the old moor.


The opening of the road followed by the arrival, and later expansion, of the railway resulted in an increase in the size of the settlement and the establishment of an inn or two. There was the Thatched House Tavern, which stood on the site currently occupied by the Hurt Arms, and the White House.


The earliest reference to the place that I've managed to find is in the 1849 Post Office directory which gives a William Lichfield at the White House, Toad moor. William had been in Toad Moor at the time of the census eight years earlier but that head-count gave no indication of there having been a hostelry there.


The census of 1851 and various subsequent trade directories show that William's still there until at least 1857, but by 1861 he's moved out. A widower, he married again in 1860. Perhaps life in a pub didn't appeal to his new spouse. This probably wasn't the case, however, as she'd been living in the place as a servant for years. She was also his late wife's sister. Well, Toadmoor was a small place, after all.


The White House of William's day appears to have been considerably different from the building which stands today, as can be seen in this early postcard from Valentine.


An early Valentine's postcard showing the White House offering accommodation for cyclists.

Was it totally rebuilt or just seriously remodelled? That I don't know, but by the time that W.H. Smith published this postcard in their Kingsway series showing it selling Stretton's beers...


A Kingsway postcard showing the new/restructured White House on the left.

...it was looking much as it does today.


Heading south on the A6 through Ambergate in June 2019. © 2020 Google

Stretton's was acquired by Allsop's in 1927. Allsop's became part of the Ind Coope set-up seven years later and thence into the Allied Breweries stable. Although the White House was in the Burton giant's ownership when I first moved to Derbyshire it became a Punch Tavern pub when the brewery divested itself of boozers and it shut up shop sometime between 2012 and 2015. I can't seem to be any more precise. I used to pass it regularly enough but can't actually recall it closing. It just did. A slow and quiet passing.


The White House in September 2011. The road going off to the right is Toadmoor Lane. © 2020 Google

Whilst 3500 miles away the fate of a different White House is yet to be decided this one's fate has been sealed, although its name does live on in bus timetables. And for ease of comparison between open and closed, here's Ian Calderwood's photograph once more.



Once again I must apologise to any subscribers who received advanced notification of the publication this post. Another attack of Fat Finger Syndrome, I'm afraid. Perhaps it's time that I invested in a largewr keyboatrd to trey to ptrevbent it frpom happening agasin.


The image of the White House in 2020 is © Ian Calderwood and is reused under this license.


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