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Pottering Along.

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

There I'd be, pottering along to the supermarket or maybe pottering home from the Sohni Mahiwal on the High Street having had a Methi Ghost and I'd pass it. Pottering around the corner to 'Jack' Frost's electrical supplies and tool hire shop I'd pass it, just as I would when I pottered home after a pint of Pedigree in the Rising Sun. Pottering to the doctor's surgery or pottering home from the chippie on a Friday evening, clutching my foil carton of liver and onions to accompany the fried Solanaceae tubers, I'd pass it. Pottering up to the garage to see if the Fiat had been fixed, and pottering home again having been informed that they'd found something else wrong with it, I'd pass it. I'd pottered past it no end of times and I'd had no idea that it used to be a pub. What was it called?

The fact that this building was actually a bygone boozer only came to light a couple of weeks ago when I was inspecting old Ordnance Survey maps whilst researching a different hostelry. One which will no doubt feature in a future post. There, on Hartshorne Road in Woodville, was marked a PH. It certainly came as news to me. Many moons ago I used to live in a house which had been built in what once was field 18, close to the disused railway line, and I must've passed the building on hundreds of occasions with no idea of its history. Time for a bit of census crawling and directory delving.

Location of Potters Arms in Woodville.
Right in the middle is the mystery PH.

If my former house didn't exist when the above mapping was carried out, Woodville itself didn't exist until the 7th November 1845. Prior to that date it was simply known as Wooden Box, after the simple wooden toll booth on the Ashby to Burton Turnpike, and was virtually the only building in the area. As an increase in industrial activity lead to an increase in the size of Swadlincote more buildings appeared in Woodville including, as can be seen above, a brewery. However, the name change must've come too late in the year for Bradshaw's to alter the entry in their 1846 directory:

A little further down the page it informs us that Thomas Stanley is the landlord of the Potters' Arms.

Thomas Standley – I believe Bradshaw's entry to be a misspelling – is recorded as being a beer retailer in Wooden Box at least as early as 1831 when he appeared in Pigot's directory...

...and he's there until around the mid-1850s, combining innkeeping with earthenware manufacture, when he retires. Melville's 1854 edition of its Leicestershire directory – county boundaries were rather fluid at the time – still has him there...

Extract of Melville's 1854 directory.

...but by the time that the Post Office's version for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire appeared the following year he'd been replaced by Robert Morley.

Extract of 1855 Post Office directory.

Morley remains there long enough to feature in White's 1857 listings but has moved a mile down the road to Hartshorne by 1861 when the census finds him running a different inn. I haven't yet determined which. In his place is the former keeper of Wooden Box's House of Detention, one Thomas Rhodes, who's still there a decade later. He probably had little problem keeping order on a spirited Saturday night but died in 1872 and by the time that the next census arrived in 1891 the pub was back in the care of Thomas Standley's family – in the hands of his grandson Henry Standley Betteridge. Henry died in 1897 whereupon his son Arthur took over the reins for a bit, combining the running of the pub with a bit of butchery according to the 1901 census.

The former Potters Arms, Woodville.
The former Potters Arms, Woodville. July 2021

By the time the next head count came around in 1911 Arthur had moved down the road to Hartshorne and he had replaced innkeeping with farming to run alongside the butchery. The Potters Arms was now being operated by one William Whitworth and it's here that the trail comes to an end. There's no mention of the pub in Kelly's directory that was published the following year and it doesn't feature in any later ones that I've been able to look in either. So, here endeth the Potters – but not the pottering.

As I'm still wired-up after the recent 999 call and the visit to A&E, which delayed the trip through Coxley, there continues to be no racing and certainly no eyeballs out anaerobic intervals for me. I suppose I'll just have to be content with being able to potter around. As the Duke of York has just reopened I can at least now potter up there.

Just pottering permitted.


Only about a week after publishing I was informed that the Potters Arms was bought by Brunt and Bucknall Brewery in 1901 so that they could use its yard to provide access from the brewery to the railway goods station which stood across the road from the pub. The pub itself eventually became a victim of the 1904 Licensing Act with it being declared redundant in 1910. These local press clippings record the brewery's opposition but they lost the battle and the pub was closed, but presumably not until after the 1911 census had been taken showing William Whitworth in residence.

The map extract is reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under this licence.

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