Updated: Apr 18, 2022
Last week's visit to Derby to meet up with a former work colleague threw up enough bygone boozers not just for the previous post, but this one too - and, I'm sorry to inform you, at least one more to come. This offering concerns two, the Nottingham Arms and the Leviathan Inn, each of which stood on a corner of London Road and Litchurch Street.
Although there are numerous references to publicans, victualers, beer house keepers and the like in earlier directories and censuses, the first definitive reference to both of these that I've come across so far is in the 1861 census. Things aren't helped by the fact that sometimes one or other, or both, can be recorded as being on either of the above two thoroughfares.
The Nottingham Arms was on the southern corner and in 1861 John Briggs was described as an innkeeper here in the census. A decade earlier, one of the numerous dabblers in the trade in the right area referred to above was a William Briggs. Was he possibly John's father at the Nottingham? Further digging would be needed to confirm that.
In the late 1930s and into the following decade, the landlord was Tommy Davison, the former Wolverhampton Wanderers and Derby County centre half. Retired footballers taking on pubs was not uncommon.
A Bass house when I first moved into the city, in its latter days the Nottingham was renamed after the lady with the lamp, Florence Nightingale - not just a random pick as the pub was almost next door to the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary at the time -
A peek at Google Streetview shows that it was the Florence Nightingale by at least 2008, still open in 2012 but closed in 2014
The Leviathan Inn stood on the opposite corner of Litchurch Street. Although, as mentioned above, the earliest record of it that I have found is in the 1861 census when William Foster was the innkeeper it's likely to have been in existence in 1850, as I've read that the Derby branch of the Amalgamated Society of Mill Sawyers and Wood Cutting Machinists held its inaugural meeting there in March of that year. What's the chance that the sawyers and cutters chose that particular venue because of Thomas Hobbes' 1651 politcal work of the same name? Hmmm? Thinking about it, it probably just had a suitable room and decent beer.
Exactly when the Leviathan closed I don't know. It's in the 1941 edition of Kelly, but I can't actually recall if it was even still in existence when I arrived in Derby in 1980. It's certainly not in existence now, and had gone by at least 2008 - along with the Royal Infirmary - with the site destined to become home to a collection of apartments and houses known as Nightingale Quarter.
Here we have a shot, from what appears to be the 1920s, showing a car emerging onto London Road from Litchurch Street, with the half-timbered Leviathan Inn on one corner and the Nottingham Arms on the other. Both bygone boozers were supplied by bygone breweries, both of Derby - Offiler's for the Nottingham and Stretton's for the Leviathan.
And here's a second, earlier, shot looking in the opposite direction. The Leviathan is displaying its Stretton's sign and the Nottingham Arms just appears in the left foreground, advertising its Offiler's wares.
So that's it for the second post resulting from my first trip to Derby for a few years. The Nottingham Arms and the Leviathan. I suppose it would be a bit naff to say that I had a whale of a time.
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