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Lost Pubs From a Lost Commute #5.



It would've been in the spring of 1986 when a beige Ford Sierra drew to a halt at the southern end of Repton's Main Street and a metallic blue Citroën Visa pulled in behind it.


I was on my way home to Woodville and Steve was heading for his abode in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, but a meeting at work had gone on for ages, far longer than expected, and we'd decided to call in somewhere for a pint before our paths split in Hartshorne. It just so happened that we settled on the New Inn.


The husband and wife running the place had only taken the pub on relatively recently, and I seem to recall that their name was Kelly. It also seemed as if as if Steve knew them. But then it seemed as if Steve knew everyone. If we went to a university department Steve knew the academics. If we went to an agricultural show, Steve knew the farmers. Our immediate boss once asked me how he could know so many people. I could only put it down to him having lived his whole life in the area and also having had a pretty successful and long-lived sporting life. He was still playing rugby in his mid-forties when he suggested that I join him at Old Ashbeians. Back in the days when rugby was an amateur game he'd previously turned out for one of the notable sides in the East Midlands as well as playing at county level. I had always assumed that he played in the second or back row of the scrum, but it seems that the current desire in the game for large full backs is not a new phenomenon. His cricketing exploits lasted even longer and you can't play sport for a long time and not get to know a lot of people from all walks of life, or avoid visiting a large number of pubs.


A century and a half before the Kellys, if that was their name, took over the New Inn it made its first appearance. Quite possibly it was a product of the Beerhouse Acts of the 1830s as I can find no reference to it before the 1841 census. In fact I can't actually find a reference to it in that head count, but the census gives us a John Gilbert as a publican and grocer on Long Street, the name at the time for Main Street...


Extract from the 1841 census.

...and he was included in Pigot's directory which was published the following year.



Extract from Pigot's 1842 directory.

A bit of digging around puts the Meakin family at the Star, the Pountains at the Mount Pleasant and the Toplises in a totally different part of the village, so I'm moderately certain that Mr Gilbert was our man.


As well as making an appearance in Pigot's directory of 1842, the year held something else in store for him – on 6th July that year he died. Three days later his widow Elizabeth was in St. Wystan's Church to see him interred. She was back there the following year to marry stone mason John Watts, and in 1851 she's with him, still at the New Inn.



Extract from the 1851 census.

They're there too in 1861. Note the family next door. Lucy Watts was married to John's brother Samuel, who was back in Ashover with his sister at the time of the census. Lucy also happened to have been Elizabeth's sister – a case of two brothers marrying two sisters.



Extract from the 1861 census.

Repton School's records tell us that Lucy's son Samuel was a scholar there from 1862-65 and that his father was S. Watts, innkeeper, New Inn. Was Samuel Snr. ever the innkeeper at the New Inn? This most likely was a minor administrative error, or simply a convenience, for Samuel Snr. had died in November 1861.


But Samuel Jnr. did go on to live at the New Inn. In 1871 he's living there with his uncle and aunt and is described as a brewer. Was the pub brewing its own beer? Highly likely.


Extract from the 1871 census.

After Samuel Jnr.'s Uncle John died in 1876 he kept on brewing and Aunt Elizabeth kept on serving the stuff...



Extract from the 1881 census.

...until she joined her two husbands in St. Wystan's Churchyard in 1884. Samuel Jnr. then took over the running of the pub...



Extract from the 1891 census.

...which he continued to do for another twenty years.


1911 census entry for the New Inn.

The Watts family's long connection with the New Inn finally came to an end the following year when Samuel joined his aunt and uncle below the turf at St. Wystan's. He didn't manage to squeeze himself into Kelly's directory before he left as that publication shows us that former police constable William Pett has taken the pub on.



Extract from Kelly's 1912 directory.

We also see that the distal end of Long Street is now known as Park End. (Samuel's sister Annie is still a grocer in this directory – on Park End.)



Former P.C. Pett was still there in the mid-1920s...


Extract from Kelly's 1925 directory.

...but in 1927 the New Inn was sold by Derby auctioneers Allen & Farquhar. In all probability to one of the Burton breweries. Maybe it was Salt's or Worthington's, before becoming subsumed into the Bass empire. It was certainly a Bass house when I knew it. The sale may have coincided with William Pett leaving, for Kelly's 1932 directory lists him a a shopkeeper with a Jack Brown now in residence at the New Inn.



Extract from Kelly's 1932 directory.

William Pett is shown as living next door to the pub in the 1939 Register, so it looks as if he's in what was once Lucy and Annie Watt's shop. It also informs us that mine host at the New Inn has changed once more and the place is now in the charge of Ernest Asquith, a fact confirmed by Kelly's 1941 edition.



Extract from Kelly's 1941 directory.

The New Inn continued to survive for another six decades, spending a brief period at the end of its life as The Huntsman, before finally calling time in 2000. So Steve and I can no longer return for another pint of Bass in the New Inn. Steve certainly can't, for he sadly checked in to the great Bass House in the sky a year or so ago. The New Inn has since been converted for residential use...


New Inn Repton
The former New Inn in Repton in July 2021.

...but its name is being kept alive, for now.


New Inn Repton



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Another great little history of a South Derbyshire pub. I walked past it a couple of months ago and hadn't realised it had been a pub until I saw the address plaque.

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