An Equinox Excursion.

The autumnal equinox. Sunshine. Warmth. Forecast says it's not going to last. After all, it is the autumnal equinox. (It's not actually, but what difference does a day make in a couple of centuries of hostelry history?) Must have a ride. It'll probably be the last one on the summer bike before it gets tucked up snuggly next to the radiator in the spare bedroom until 2021. Must have a ride. Must have a ride before blustering Boris brings back tougher restrictions. But where to this time?


The original plan was to pedal up to the Mermaid to get some shots of bygone boozers in Warslow and Grindon but the webcam at the Cat and Fiddle showed nothing but grey. The one at Flash Bar showed more of the same, so a trip to the higher reaches of the Staffordshire moorlands would just have to be postponed. Instead it was a case of wait until the sun did manage to appear and then head south to the land of hedges again.


A couple of months ago I came across a pair of Raphael Tuck postcards showing the Bull's Head in Kirk Ireton with an Ind Coope/Allsopp's sign which would date them to post-1935. (The two companies merged in 1935 to form Ind Coope & Allsopp Ltd. The Allsopp name was eventually jettisoned in 1959.) I knew that there was only a single pub operating in the village, the wonderful Barley Mow, so it was off to the village to see how things have changed. Lots of cars and wheelie bins seems to be the answer. Why did I have to choose bin day?


The Bull's Head halfway down on the right hand side. Probably mid-1930s...

...and 2020.


Derby's Stretton's brewery had been acquired by Allsopp's in 1927.


It seems that Kirk Ireton was just too remote to have made it into any of the early county directories and the earliest reference to the pub that I can find is in the 1841 census in which William Miles is given as the publican.


The former Bull's Head in September 2020.

The pub continued to operate until 1982 when it shut its doors for the final time and became a residential property. However, according to the Wirksworth website site, the Bull's Head had at some point migrated up Main Street from its original site nearer the church. That building is now known as Lowton House.


Lowton House. The Bull's Head's original location.

The Wirksworth site also has this postcard which pre-dates the Tuck offerings.



Enlarging the pub sign gives



which provides a little help in dating the photo. Fred Jackson is listed there in the 1911 census, but not the one a decade earlier and had left by the time that Kelly published their 1925 directory.


Whilst digging around in the census records and directories I came across reference to another bygone boozer that existed just a couple of doors away from the Bull's Head. Marked, but not named, on the 1880 Ordnance Survey map the Wheatsheaf Inn was run by John Ford at the time of the 1841 census. The last reference to it that I've come across is in the one taken in1891 with it being in the care of William Gamble. William died in 1894 and the pub probably died with him.


William's gone, the Wheatsheaf's gone and the building itself no longer seems to exist. It's location is now filled with a pair of late Victorian/Edwardian semis. I tried to get a pic but the bright autumnal sun just filled each shot with flare, so here's one that Mr. Google captured in 2009. Nothing much seems to have changed, but at least it wasn't refuse collection day when he drove by.

Site of the former Wheatsheaf Inn in 2009. ©2020 Google

In addition to the Wheatsheaf a couple of other potential subjects popped up in the Kirk Ireton of the past. Watch this space.


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