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What the Dickens?

Whilst the suspect shoulder has remained fairly firmly in its socket it's still not wanting to experience the condition of Derbyshire's road surfaces on a bike. However, it does now move sufficiently without pain to allow me to drive, so I thought that I'd pop out to Ashford in the Water to combine the shouting of abuse/encouragement to clubmates taking part in an evening time trial with the shooting of a pic or two of the currently closed Ashford Arms. Originally known as the Devonshire Arms this boozer has been shut since last year but I believe that there is still some degree of hope that it could reopen and not become a subject of this blog. Never known as the eternal optimist though, I thought that I'd grab a snap or two of it anyway, whilst it still bore its name above the entrance.

Hopefully the Ashford Arms will reopen at some point – and won't just slide down the hill!.

It was whilst walking back from taking this pic that my attention was drawn to this sign above the door of a cottage just across the road.

Surely this could only mean one thing, although I've never heard mention of a Miners Arms in Ashford. Being a former lead mining area there are quite a few around. Brassington, Carsington, Eyam, Milltown – they all have one which is still serving – but in all of my directory delving I've never seen mention of one in Ashford.

If I'd never heard of it Charles Dickens must've done, for the place gets a mention in a piece entitled The Miner's Daughter – A Tale of the Peak, published in 1850 in his journal Household Words.

David Dunster was one of those remarkably tall fellows that you see about these hills, who seem of all things the very worst made men to creep into the little mole holes on the hill sides that they call lead-mines. But David did manage to burrow under and through the hard limestone rocks as well as any of them. He was a hard-working man, though he liked a sup of beer, as most Derbyshire men do, and sometimes came home none of the soberest. He was naturally of a very hasty temper, and would fly into great rages; and if he were put out by anything in the working of the mines, or the conduct of his fellow-workmen, he would stay away from home for days, drinking at Tideswell, or the Bull’s Head at the top of Monsal Dale, or down at the Miners’ Arms at Ashford-in-the-Water.

Whilst Dunster could today get a drink at the Bull's Head, still going strong as the Monsal Head Hotel, the Miners' Arms is definitely no more.

The only reference by name that I've been able to find is in the 1881 census when baker Joseph Bolsover is also a publican at the Miners' Arms.

Extract from the 1881 census.

Although the pub isn't named, Joseph is shown to be a beer retailer in directories back as far as at least 1857...

Extract from White's 1857 directory.

...just like his father John before him...

Extract from the 1849 Post Office directory.

...going back to at least 1831.

Extract from Pigot's 1831 directory.

Although I can't be certain, it's quite likely that father and son were both selling their wares at the Miners' Arms.

Today, should David Dunster have had a rough day down the mine he would find that the Grade II listed building that once housed the Miners is now a pair of cottages, possibly having closed in 1892.

Miners' Arms  Ashford in the Water
The former Miners' Arms in Ashford in the Water.

If you've read this far, then thank you. Possibly, like me, you may have some sort of interest in bygone boozers. Clicking here will take you to a searchable/sortable index which you can use to see if I've already featured any lost locals from your locality. You can also subscribe to ensure that you don't miss any future posts. Simply click here to return to the home page (opens in a new tab), follow the 'Subscribe' link and complete the form to receive an email notification of any future post. Or you could simply follow the link at the top of this page.

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