A quarter to five on a Saturday morning and I'm awakened to an analysis of the week's goings-on in Westminster. Will Dominic 'The Turnip' Raab be a caretaker? Will Priti Vacant stand as leader? Will Larry be our next Prime Minister?
They were not the thoughts running through my mind as I emerged from a weird dream involving a late friend, a Land Rover and a pumpkin (Don't ask!). I'm just wondering why I have been roused in the middle of the night. And then reality and memory slowly return. Mrs. Bygone Boozer is embarking upon her longest ever bike ride today. One that starts in Alfreton at around seven, and the fact that she can't function in the morning until she's had a good dose of caffeine is the reason for my rude awakening.
Caffeine levels raised, breakfast consumed, bike and with all her other accoutrements loaded into the car we head for Alfreton's cemetery where her journey will start. It is the dead centre of the town after all.
Having seen Mrs. BB safely on her way I take the opportunity to wander around the town to snap a few bygones and, By George!, the town certainly has a few. As I wander along the High Street I get a glimpse of my first quarry, the former George Hotel. It's the three-storeyed white building by the traffic light.
I also catch a glimpse of Mrs. BB emptying the joint account at the town's branch of Lloyds. She's only done about a mile. How many more branches will she pass in the remaining one hundred and thirty?
Sitting on the corner of Church Street and Chesterfield Road, this Grade II listed building is not looking its best these days...
...but in the 1930s it was the town's main hotel, run by Percy Moore.
Originally built in 1788, before Chesterfield Road even existed, its initial innkeeper was one Samuel Nuttall and by the end of the nineteenth century was owned by the Palmer-Morewood family of Alfreton Hall. It may very well have originally been built for their forebears. Whether that was the case or not, they owned a number of pubs and inns in the area and in 1896 put some up for sale, including the George. The Derby Telegraph of 17th December that year included this piece:
IMPORTANT SALE OF DERBYSHIRE LICENSED PROPERTY
Messrs. J. J. Orgill, Marks, and Orgill, auctioneers, of London, offered for sale by public auction at the Royal Hotel, Derby, this (Thursday) afternoon eight licensed houses, situate in and about the town of Alfreton, Derbyshire. The vendor was Mr. C. R. Palmer-Morewood, J.P., Lord of the Manor at Alfreton, and the proprietor of several collieries. There was a large and influential attendance, many well-known breweries being represented, and the bidding for the most part was very spirited, some high prices being realised.
Lot 1 was the Red Lion, a full-licenced house in Green Hill-lane, near Alfreton, producing a rental of £60 per annum. Bidding commenced at £1,000, which soon increased by leaps and bounds until the sum of £5,700, which was offered by Messrs. Thomas Hardy, brewers, of Kimberley, was finally accepted. Lot 2 consisted of the Laburnum Beerhouse, Sleet Moor, Alfreton. The first bid was £800, and last, which was made by John Smith's Tadcaster Brewery Co., was £1,550. The next lot was the Cross Keys, a full-licensed house, Derby-road, Swanwick...
...The last lot was the George Hotel. Alfreton, but this lot was withdrawn at £6,900.
The George looked like this at the time. Nice to see the winged wheel of the Cyclists' Touring Club on the wall.
Although not snapped up by a major brewery in that 1896 sale, the George did eventually make its way into the hands of Derby's Alton & Co. Ltd...
...which would account for why, in the 1970s, it was a source of the delightful Double Diamond. Ernest Marriott never new how lucky he was that he didn't need to ask folks if they'd like another one. Or even if they'd liked the first. He's the bloke in the coat in the middle of the front row in this pic.
The George was still serving in 1984, by when its phone number had acquired an additional four digits in front of its original Alfreton 15, but had closed and was for sale three years later. It never served another pint of Double Diamond – nor one of anything else for that matter.
Having dropped Mrs. BB off for her ride, and having snapped a few bygones, I returned home when, after a coffee or two, I went out for a spin of my own. Time to take the Achilles' a little further today. A gentle jaunt along the High Peak Trail to Longcliffe and then home through Aldwark. No random route this, for it had a built-in bonus. I could call at Lydgate Farm for a swift one on the way.
Ian and Jen have converted the now disused cow shed into a summer dispensary for the products of the nearby converted milking parlour, which itself appeared in this earlier post.
Punters can now partake of a pint and a pasty where once Annabel and Daisy would spend their winter months out of the worst of Derbyshire's winter weather.
The bar is light and airy...
...with seating to spare...
...and even a cosy fireplace because, whilst this might be summer, it's still Derbyshire.
With my pasty polished off, and my glass of Nostrum drained, it was time for home. I couldn't really stay and have a second as I was on call in case Mrs. BB required rescue from her solo ride and needed to be collected from somewhere between home and the Humber estuary. Anyway, my legs never seem to want to pedal after more than one and besides, the England v India T20 match was about to start on the box.
Suitably showered, further fed and with England well beaten the phone rings. By George, she's done it! A hundred and thirty two miles. Chapeau! to you Mrs. BB. Her longest ever ride by quite a margin. Time for a celebratory drink, I feel. Sadly it won't be in the George. It won't be in the cowshed either, for service stops at six. But if you're in the area of Aldwark on a Saturday afternoon before the end of August try popping in. You won't be disappointed.
If you've read this far, then thank you. Possibly, like me, you may have some sort of interest in bygone boozers. Clicking here will take you to a searchable/sortable index which you can use to see if I've already featured any lost locals from your locality. You can also subscribe to ensure that you don't miss any future posts. Simply click here to return to the home page (opens in a new tab), follow the 'Subscribe' link and complete the form to receive an email notification of any future post. Or you could simply follow the link at the top of this page.