Time trial night, but the rather unpleasant lingering lungfuls of a viral infection and continuing uncertainty on the cardiac front means that I'm still not racing. But it's a nice evening so I think I'll just pedal down anyway and take to opportunity to drop into Two Dales to capture its bygone boozers.
Two Dales seems an appropriate name for a settlement flanked by Sydnope Dale on one side and Hall Dale on the other, but it seems that its name has evolved from Toadhole or Todehole, which in the local lingo refers to a fox earth.
A time ago Two Dales used to have three pubs. The first that I come across is on the main road running through the village – the Blacksmith's Arms.
From the road you'd be pushed to guess that it used to be a pub...
...but from the other aspect there is no doubt. The lamp is a bit of a giveaway.
The earliest reference that I've come across for this place is in the 1855 Post Office Directory when John Cowley is mine host. In the 1851 census he's listed as a blacksmith but back in 1829, Glover's Directory lists a Samuel Cowley as a blacksmith and victualer at the Horseshoe. This is the only reference to an establishment of this name that I've come across. Was this an earlier name for the pub? There was certainly a smithy on the site. There's an image in the Vernon Lamb Collection on the Andrews Pages site:-
If the Cowley family did run it from at least the 1820s their grip on the place was lost around 1855-60 when another dynasty took it on. The 1861 census gives one Richard Kinder as the innkeeper and the 1870 Harrod's Directory lists it as being in the hands of Mrs. Kinder. Dorothy Kinder was a Derbyshire by birth and the following year her brother John seems to be in charge, as he is in the census a decade later. John's Derbyshire's daughter, Mary, married Walter Walker and it is he that takes it on until his death in 1900. Mary is then in charge and, after two further marriages, eventually passes the reins to Walter junior, who had the place until its final license ran out in 1968. The pub has been converted into a number of cottages and there has been new build on the site of the smithy and orchard. Whilst the lamp is a pretty good clue re. the Blacksmith's Arms former life, there is no trace of the former Nag's Head. The 18th century Plough is still trading, but of the Nag's, not a sign.
Existing by at least 1829, and operated by the Pidcock family for the next half century, it used to stand on a corner plot in the centre of the village, facing the Plough. It closed and was flattened in 1962 and now provides parking places for nearby properties.