After a couple of pretty big training days on the bike it was time for a lighter one. I'd had a nagging little pain in my left quadriceps for around a week and decided to take a bike down to the southern part of the county and visit a mate in Melbourne. The hills aren't as big or as steep down there. At least that's how I remembered the topography.
With sunshine, bright blue sky and no rain forecast I chose my best, lightest bike for the trip. Its first outing since September last year. Pedalling past ponies and the former Royal Oak in Ticknall the left leg seemed fine. I couldn't help but notice that the Wheel Inn was still boarded up and the car park barricaded off. Still no new takers.
Climb up into the headwind to Scaddows before the drop down into Hartshorne, passing the site of the flattened New Inn. Another climb up Manchester Lane was followed by a bit of up and down around Calke Abbey. Hills? My left quad kept reminding me that I'd promised it an absence of these. Perhaps my memory of the local topography is a bit faded.
I rode by a reservoir...
...crossed the county border...
...before climbing once more, with the quad mumbling some indecipherable complaint, back to Derbyshire and Melbourne.
About a hundred and twenty years ago the view looked much the same. The main differences are the shelter which was erected to mark the coronation or jubilee of one monarch or other – my memory on this point is just as faded as it is on the subject of the local topography – and the absence of the thatched building.
That thatched building used to be a pub: the Nag's Head.
The Nag's Head was run from at least the 1840s by two generations of the Dallman family who also had the adjoining butcher's shop, the seemingly – we'll see why 'seemingly' a bit later – three-storied building to the right.
The first reference to the pub by name that I've come across is in the 1851 census when butcher Augustine Dallman is living there with his family.
Augustin, without an 'e', was living on the Market Place at the census ten years prior to this one but there was no reference to an inn, tavern or beerhouse. However, he was listed in Pigot's 1842 directory a year later as a beer retailer so it seems that he was probably combining occupations.
I don't know if Augustin was a regular churchgoer or not but, whether he was or whether he wasn't, he entered Melbourne's churchyard for the final time on 27th May 1862 whereupon it seems that the running of the pub was taken on by two of his offspring, Augustin junior and Sarah. Both appear in later censuses and directories as either at the Nag's Head (Sarah) or as a butcher and beerhouse keeper (Augustin). Although both are given as living in neighbouring properties I'm pretty certain Augustin wasn't running yet another beerhouse as their brother William was already operating the only other one in the market place in 1861.
Augustin joins his namesake and father in Melbourne churchyard on 7th June 1900, having come off second best in an altercation with a sheep at Derby's cattle market, leaving Sarah to run the Nag's Head on her own. She's still there in 1911...
...and in the same year as the census was taken the Inland Revenue inspected and valued the pub.
"The Premises comprise the Nag's Head Inn and Butcher Shop adjoining. The Nag's Head is a very old structure with a thatched roof and is a very dilapidated state. It contains 2 rooms at front, Larder or ale store and cellar.
The Butcher Shop is a brick building contg. Shop, dilapidated wash house, passage. It has the appearance at front of a 3 storey building but there are no upper floors. In yard at rear are 3 stables, closet, manure pit and three other old buildings.
The trade is stated to be about 2 barrels a week but form LL1 gives no particulars and at time of inspection premises had been sold and purchaser had surrendered the license.
Value of license estimated at £200.
(I'd just like to say at this point that I've transcribed this letter by letter so anyone who wants to pick me up on my spelling – you know who you are ;-) – had better concentrate on the bits of the post that aren't in italics.)
We now know the reason for the use of 'seemingly' up the page a little, but do we know who the purchaser was? We do. It was the Derby Co-operative Society who proceeded to demolish both it and the butcher's shop to construct a new store. The building is still in retail use today.
The only thing left to do now was to travel the hundred yards or so to the Melbourne Inn (formerly the Lamb) to enjoy a plate of chilli, chips and garlic bread washed down with a cracking pint of Timothy Taylor's Boltmaker. Landlord or Bass were the other options but Boltmaker's dryness just seemed the right brew with which to wet my whistle. The left quad must have enjoyed it too, for I failed to detect any nagging afterwards.
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