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The Public Houses of Barwick Village

The Black Swan

from The Barwicker No. 95
Sept 2009

The Black Swan in Victorian Times
(To the right of the group)

The popular “Black Swan” public house stands in a prominent position in the centre of the village on the road called “The Cross” almost opposite the War Memorial and Maypole. A large, old building with a collection of rooms, both the exterior and interior show signs of numerous alterations over many years.

The early history of the inn is unknown. It was part of the Manor of Barwick and Scholes meaning that property transfers and sales had to go through the Manor Court. Evidence in the Manorial records suggests that the inn opened in the second half of the eighteenth century. The story becomes clear however from 1780s. At that time the inn was owned by Thomas Shepley and tenanted to Richard Lumb the younger. In 1780 and 1782 Richard is listed as an Innkeeper in the Barwick All Saints Church Parish Registers. In the patchy surviving records of the annual Skyrack Brewster Court he was licensed as a Barwick alehouse keeper in 1781.

On the 19th of October 1790 the property was sold by Thomas Shepley to William Gough, a joiner, and his wife Margaret of Barwick. It was still tenanted at that time to Richard Lumb the younger.

William Gough sold the inn for £200 on the 13th May 1811 to Charles Hick, a Barwick Blacksmith and Jane his wife who then occupied the building. The transfer deed described the property as “All that messuage tenement or dwellinghouse used as a public house…. cottage or dwellinghouse adjoining the same…..another cottage.…with brew-house, coalhouse and pigcotes ….”. The beer would have brewed on site in the brew-house to the rear.

In 1811 Charles Hick’s sister Mary Hick married Thomas Smith at Aberford and by 1816 Thomas had taken over from Charles as the landlord likely as his tenant.

The first reference to the name “Black Swan” occurs in 1822 when in “Edward Baines, History, Directory & Gazetteer of the County of York” Thomas Smith is shown as a Victualler in the “Black Swan” at Barwick in Elmet. The name “Black Swan” first appeared as a tavern sign in the sixteenth century and may have indicated the landlord was a remarkable person, a rara avis or rare bird. However, the mostly likely explanation for the name in Barwick is to distinguish it from the “Swan Inn” in nearby Aberford.

Always a fully licensed inn it could sell beers, wines and spirits. Trade must have been hit when in the 1830s the new Beer Act allowed almost anyone to open Beerhouses. In Barwick the “New Inn” and “William the Fourth” beerhouses opened at this period and for the villagers of the time the healthy competition in beer should have ensured that prices were kept as low as possible.

John Towler became landlord in the early 1830s and with his wife Mary brought up a large family on the premises having at least 9 children. The first, Ellen, was baptised at All Saints Church, Barwick on Christmas Day 1833 and the last, Henry, born on the 5th August 1845. John and Mary were not from Barwick, he had been born in Cowthorpe and Mary in Heslington. The stable tenancy of an inn no doubt attracted them to the village. They were at the inn for over 30 years until in 1867 John died aged 72. Mary continued to run the business with the help of one of her sons for a few years until the early 1870s.

Ownership of the inn during this period had been through a rather complicated series of events. Charles Hicks had died in 1827, his will had left the inn first to his wife Jane Hick, and she had died in 1840. It subsequently provided that it should pass to his granddaughter Elizabeth Hewitt when she attained the age of 21. She was the child of his daughter Hannah Hewitt (nee Hick) and son-in-law Thomas Hewitt. In the 1820/30s he was the landlord at the now closed “New Inn” in Aberford but later worked as a joiner. In 1840 however Elizabeth was a minor aged just 15, so the property went in trust to her through her father Thomas Hewitt. She was to own the inn for 50 years.

The 1870s saw John Heaton briefly in charge as landlord. By the time of the 1881 census the Barwick born Joshua Hartley was running the inn and living in the property with his wife Mary and a young family. Joshua died in late 1890 aged just 42 and this ties in with the sale of property by Elizabeth Hewitt.

On the 25th November 1890 Elizabeth Hewitt, a spinster of Aberford, sold the inn (described as a Public House known by the sign of the Black Swan) to Benjamin Braime, a brewer of Tadcaster for £1,000. Brewing on the site would have stopped and the inn would have been supplied from Tadcaster and continued to be let to tenants. Joshua Hartley’s widow Mary took over the license and ran the pub now under Braime’s ownership.

Benjamin Braime had started a brewery in Tadcaster in the 1870s, it was not a financial success going bust around 1906 The Barwick Manorial records show that the inn was mortgaged by Braime’s and it appears to have been repossessed by the mortgagees, William Dawson of Otley and Edward Brooksbank of Tadcaster following the collapse of Braime’s. On the 4th October 1909 Dawson and Brooksbank sold the inn to John Smith’s Tadcaster Brewing Company. Again this Company would have supplied the inn from Tadcaster and let it to tenants. On the 6th October 1913 they paid Colonel Gascoigne of Lotherton, Lord of the Manor of Barwick and Scholes to free the property of Manorial restrictions and it became freehold.

The close proximity of the Inn to the Maypole made the upstairs windows ideal locations to view the triennial Maypole lower and raising ceremonies. Landlords during the Victorian and Edwardian periods allowed them to be used by persons of the “fair sex” to view proceedings. Then, as now, the historic Maypole events provide a welcome boost to innkeepers in the village.

Around 1902 Jonas Herbert Shackleton became the landlord. With Emily his wife he moved to Barwick from Bradford and ran the Inn until his death in 1927 aged 69. The inn was valued for the purpose of the finance act of 1909 during Jonas’ tenancy when it was described as:

“Kitchen, smoke room, tap room, sitting room, bar + pantry. 2 cellars + club room + 4 bedrooms.
Cottage used as stores, 2 rooms + 1 bedroom. Club room, store? over back room.
Coach house, slate, wash kitchen, 2 WC. Ash pit + urinal.
Old property moderate repair.
Freehold; Owner : John Smiths Tadcaster, Occupier : Jonas H. Shackleton”

Jonas’ widow Emily took over the tenancy for a number of years following his death in 1927. On the 23rd June 1931 Fred Gilliam became landlord, and later that year the Skyrack licensing court approved alterations to the property. Fred ran the inn until 1935.

Ernest Strickland Hopton took on the license from the 29th January 1935 he moved into the village from the York Road area of East Leeds and ran the inn with his wife Ethel. A well liked man he was an enthusiastic worker for the Barwick and Scholes branch of the British Legion who had their headquarters at the “Black Swan.” One black mark against his name however is a conviction for after hours drinking on Saturday the 13th August 1938, he was fined £10 and two locals were fined 40s each.

Ernest would have witnessed the increase in private car ownership from the 1930s onwards, this brought in more trade as many city folk from Leeds and York started to visit “country” pubs with their increased mobility. The brewery obviously recognised this and in 1959 purchased land between the “Black Swan” and Ings House and at the rear of the property from Colonel Gascoigne of Lotherton Hall creating a large car park and access road.

Ernest Hopton died suddenly in December 1959 and his widow Ethel continued to run the inn with help from his sister Louise. Ethel remained the landlady until April 1968 when Dave Wilson took over. He only stayed briefly with the license transferring again in October 1971 to Jane Marshall. Since the late 1970s a number of landlords have run the inn and the building has been altered and modernised The John Smith’s Tadcaster Brewery Company was taken over by the Courage Brewery in the 1970s who sold all their public houses in 1991 to the Inntrepreneur Pub Company who subsequently sold the “Black Swan” to Unique Pub Properties Limited in 1999.

The “Black Swan” is at least 225 years old, known to many generations of Barwickers, it has witnessed events at the heart of the village and continues to do so to the present day.

Barwick in Elmet and Scholes Manorial Records
1841 – 1901 Census Returns
1909 Valuation Office Records
All Saints Church, Barwick in Elmet, Parish Registers
St Ricarius Church, Aberford, Parish Registers
Local Directories
The Skyrack Courier / Express
Land Registry of England and Wales
Paul Jennings – “The Local” A History of The English Pub
West Riding Quarter Sessions (Skyrack Brewster Court Records)
Skyrack Petty Sessions – Registers of Alehouse Licenses

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