West Yorkshire market town of Pontefract
Pontefract Local History


Hope and Anchor Inn Pontefract

The Hope & Anchor Inn, Pontefract, was the first inn situated beyond the boundaries of Knottingley township to be purchased by Carters’ Knottingley Brewery Company.

The date when the inn was established is not known but an inn certainly occupied the present site by the final quarter of the eighteenth century for a deed of the early nineteenth century records the sale of the inn to Thomas Prince and also names two previous tenants. (1) Prince purchased the property from John Champney of Snaith on the 7th March 1803 and on the 12th March sold a share in the property to one George Barker of Acaster Malbis. (2) The indentures of sale refer to the property as being

"…a dwelling house and orchard or garden situated in a street called Bitchill [Beech Hill]…adjoining St. Nicholas’ Hospital." (3)

The College and Hospital of St. Nicholas was a Pre-Conquest foundation which had fallen into disuse and neglect following the dissolution of the monasteries and the suppression of the religious houses at the close of the third decade of the sixteenth century. The site was restored in 1673 and was used as a refuge for the poor for almost a century thereafter. (4) By the last quarter of that century however, the Hospital Trustees had begun to let out parcels of land and buildings which were originally part of the Hospital complex. (5) A still house or brewery had been established by John Clarkson on land opposite Swillington Tower, Pontefract Castle, and standing on an adjacent site to the west of the Hospital grounds and by 1770 this property was in the occupation of John Needham. (6) The existence of the brewery may have been an influential factor in the decision to open an inn nearby.

The inn probably occupied the former Bede [almshouse] House of the ancient foundation which, being situated at the roadside to the south of the Hospital site, was ideally suited for use as an inn. That the building had originally formed part of the Hospital is shown by the fact that the annual fee-farm rent of five shillings per year, payable to the Duchy of Lancaster under the terms of an Act of Parliament of 1650 was paid by the owners of the inn throughout the greater part of the nineteenth century. (7)

The original name of the inn was the Tinklers’ Stone Inn and one may conject that this unusual appellation was derived from the stooped entrance to the former Bede House at which a bell was rung by visitors seeking admission to the Hospital or by passing travellers in need of alms or refreshment.

In October 1805, Thomas Prince, Ann, his wife, and George Barker (now described as a farmer of Bramham Moor) sold the inn to Edward Gaggs and Mark Carter of Knottingley. (8) The purchasers, together with Robert Seaton of the Pontefract banking family, had set up in business as common [public] brewers at Knottingley in 1801 and by 1808 had sufficiently prospered to establish a purpose built brewery at Lime Grove, Hill Top, Knottingley, which was to continue trading until the sixth decade of the twentieth century. (9)

The sale of the inn probably indicates the point at which the name of the inn was changed to that of the Hope & Anchor, although the name of Tinklers’ Stone was a common synonym, retaining its use until well into the second half of the nineteenth century. (10) It is of passing interest to note that the Knottingley company purchased the brewery close by the Hope & Anchor in 1807, at which time it was in the hands of James Wadsworth (11) who had obtained the site known as Brewhouse Garth or the Still House, in 1802. (12)

The Hope & Anchor was to remain in the possession of the Knottingley Brewery Company for over a century and a quarter following its acquisition and although its external appearance was little changed during the remaining span of the buildings existence, there is some indication that consideration was being given to the eventual expansion or replacement of the inn. In January 1865, John Carter purchased a cottage situated to the east of the inn. The property was occupied by Thomas Hopkinson the Younger, a blacksmith, and is described as

"a dwelling house at Tinklers’ Stone, lately occupied by Mary Ann Atkinson and Joseph Atkinson, her father." (13)

The existence of a nearby blacksmith’s shop is quite a common feature of early inns. Indeed, many inns were established in order to provide rest and refreshment to travellers who in the course of their journey had of necessity to seek the services of a smith and it is not improbable that the presence of a forge was a further factor prompting the establishment of the Tinklers’ Stone Inn. A document of January 1868 however, records the payment of £7-10-0 to John Wilcox for valuation of a

"building added to a joiners shop in the Hope & Anchor yard."

suggesting a change in the use of the former blacksmith’s shop. (14)

If Carter was motivated to purchase the cottage and workshop with a view to improving the facilities of the inn his plans were quite evidently long-term ones and indeed, did not come to fruition until almost twenty years after his death which occurred in October 1873. Indeed, the old inn was painted by William Mowbray of Knottingley in July 1878. (15) However, the purchase of a second cottage on the site by John Carter’s son, George William Carter, suggests that consideration was still being given to the eventual improvement of the site. (16) Such action was more or less forced upon Carter by the decision in May 1890, of the mayor and Corporation of Pontefract, as Hospital Trustees, to demolish the surrounding buildings. (17)

As early as 1878 the centuries old building had deteriorated to the point where the Trustees had approached the Charity Commissioners and sought permission to raze the site but permission was denied at that time and it was only after further deterioration had occurred that permission was finally obtained.

Consequently, the Hope & Anchor was in the process of being rebuilt when, in July 1892, G.W. Carter sold the Knottingley Brewery, together with more than sixty tied houses, to a newly formed public limited company trading under the style and title of Carters’ Knottingley Brewery Co., Ltd.

Referring to the proposed replacement, a report in a local newspaper stated

"The new Hope & Anchor Inn to be built at the junction of North Baileygate and Mill Dam will, when completed, be one of the best fitted up houses of business of its kind in the town. All the interior work will be of the style of a first class hotel." (18)

The Pontefract architect, J.H. Greaves, designed the new inn in Queen Anne style with a parapet gable and barge board trimming. An innovative measure for that period was that the building was sound and damp proofed, having half inch cavity walls filled with a patented compound known as ‘Tenax Building Rock’ employed for that purpose.

Temporary premises, the nature of which is unfortunately unrecorded, were arranged to enable trading to continue during the transition from old to new inn and on Monday 11th May 1891 demolition of the old fabric commenced. The bulk of the construction work was undertaken by local tradesmen. The new inn was erected by the Pontefract builders Walker & Ward at a cost of £580. Carpentry was by Midgley Pease of Pontefract and cost £365. Pontefract based plumbers Keighley & Westwood undertook the plumbing and glazing at a cost of £113-11-5. A Castleford firm, T. Smithies & Son, did the plastering for £55 and Watson &Worstnop of Leeds were paid £44 for slating the roof. Finally, H. Butler & Sons of Pontefract painted the completed building at a cost of £29-10-0. (19)

When the rebuilt inn opened its doors to the public in 1892, it was the ‘Showpiece’ of the newly established Knottingley Brewery Co. Ltd. The transition from private to public company had involved the new company in some additional expense vis a vis the Hope & Anchor for the Hospital Trustees had demanded £20 for land adjoining the site of the inn having previously offered it to George William Carter for only £10. (20)

In May 1935, the Knottingley Brewery Co., Ltd., was taken over by Bentleys’ Yorkshire Brewery Co., Ltd., of Woodlesford, Leeds, becoming a subsidiary of B.Y.B. although retaining the existing name, being so well established in the area around Knottingley. (21) By the time of the take over the Hope & Anchor had suffered some deterioration in its appearance and was in need of internal refurbishment to update the features and facilities of the inn.

The effect of the economic depression on the finances of the Knottingley Brewery during the period 1926-1935 had restricted the programme of public house refurbishment and the outbreak of war in 1939 put any hope of immediate revamp of the Hope & Anchor into abeyance. Even after the conclusion of hostilities further delay occurred due to a period of post war austerity characterised by shortage of materials and bureaucratic restriction. Consequently it was not until 1951 that the overhaul of the Hope & Anchor began.

In September of that year the Secretary/Manager of Knottingley Brewery, Mr. W. Thompson, reported to the company directors a recent meeting with the local Licensing Justices who had made various suggestions concerning improvements to the Hope & Anchor and had requested an architectural sketch incorporating their suggestions be submitted for examination at their next meeting. (22) In response, Thompson was instructed to write to the Clerk to the Justices and explain that in view of the company’s considerable building commitments and the difficulty in obtaining building licences, the Board would be pleased to arrange for an additional panel to be cut in the rear of the serving bar to enable more adequate supervision of the smoking room, as suggested, and hoped that the remaining suggestions might be left pro tem. (23) The Deputy Clerk of Pontefract Borough Justices replied that the magistrates were more concerned with lack of adequate sanitation at the inn and desired a plan revealing the work to be done when conditions allowed. The Pontefract based architect J.W. Poulson, was therefore engaged to draw up a plan featuring the installation of internal toilets on the site of the existing kitchen which would be relocated upstairs. Poulson’s drawings were to include an amendment to the bar to permit direct access to the smoke room but the existing serving rooms were to remain in situ. (24)

At the Annual General Meeting of the company on the 28th December 1951, the shareholders agreed that the Chairman, Colonel W. Charlesworth, and W. Thompson, deal with the matter under the guidance of W. Watkin, a fellow director whose jurisdiction included liaison with Poulson concerning the proposed improvements to the Hope & Anchor Inn. (25)

Poulson’s plans were approved by the Brewery directors in January 1952 and submitted to the Magistrates. On the 4th April, the Company Secretary and the Architect met with the Justices to explain the details of the plans and formally submit them for consideration and official approval. (26) On the 10th March however, a letter was sent by the Clerk to the Justices asking whether it was the intention of the company to take any additional steps

"to bring the Hope & Anchor into line with modern standards of licensed premises."

Should affirmation be forthcoming the Justices desired to know whether the proposals would interfere with the relocation of the lavatories as presently proposed. Again, Thompson was instructed to seek approval of the plans already submitted and inform the Justices that the company would bear in mind their suggestion for an ‘island’ bar and give an assurance that provision of this feature would not interfere whatsoever with current proposals. (27)

Owing to government restrictions during the early post-war period it was not until the autumn of 1952 that a building licence was granted by the Ministry of Works authorising the refurbishment to take place between October 1952 and March 1953. (28)

Following the diktat of the Licensing Justices that the company’s complete proposals be submitted for their approval Poulson was asked to prepare and submit two sets of plans. A tender of £386 was eventually received from the Pontefract builder W.F. Wagner in respect of the immediately proposed alterations to the toilets, bar, and serving rooms, and accepted by the Board in November 1952. (29) It was not until February 1953 however, following acceptance by the magistrates that the proposals for subsequent alterations would be fully implemented by the company upon receipt of the requisite building licence, that the work on the first phase of the refurbishment was finally approved. Even then only qualified approval was given on the understanding that the architect would present specifications and obtain tenders for the final stage of the refurbishment as the initial phase neared completion. (30)

Work on the sanitary alterations was completed by September 1953, by which date Poulson had presented details concerning the remaining alterations to the inn. The contract for the final phase was awarded to Messrs. Drake & Warters of Wakefield who had submitted a tender of £950-18-0, exclusive of contingencies and the expenses involved in covering the floor and replacing the seating in the smoke room. Following consultation with Mr. A. Hanks, a director of B.Y.B. the parent company of the Knottingley Brewery Co., the two additional elements concerning the refurbishment of the smoke room were undertaken by the same contractors. (31) The final account for the work done was not settled until September 1954, some eight years after the restoration of the Hope & Anchor was first proposed. (32)

In August 1962, Carters Knottingley Brewery Co., Ltd., was fully absorbed by the parent company. (33) The 1960s also saw the onset of negotiations for the acquisition of B.Y.B. by Whitbread p.l.c., which were finally concluded in March 1972. (34) Being surplus to requirements, Knottingley Brewery was closed and demolished shortly thereafter. The Hope & Anchor was however, retained by the new owners and in 1972 consent was given for structural alterations to be undertaken. Plans were drawn up and deposited for an extension of the premises but these were subsequently filed away pending further action. The inn continued under the aegis of Whitbreads until November 1998 when the inn was purchased by Beechley Ltd., who granted a twenty year leasehold to Avebury Taverns Ltd. (35)

In the summer of 2003 a decision was taken to refurbish the inn. Between the 7th July and the end of that month the premises were closed while a comprehensive programme of improvements was undertaken under the auspices of Messrs Whitehead of Sheffield. The principal feature of the refurbishment was the relocation of the ‘island’ bar which was reinstalled on the north wall so that the entrance to the premises was opened up, giving an immediate view of the interior and direct access to the bar by removal of the passageways which running parallel to each other at either side of the bar, formerly linked the two rooms.

For an inn with over two and a quarter centuries of continuous existence the Hope & Anchor has had a relatively limited list of tenants. The longest tenure is that of the Watkinson family who, commencing with Asa Watkinson in the late 1860s and continuing with his daughter, Ann Auckland Watkinson, until 1940, held the tenancy for over half a century. (36) Given Ann Watkinson’s middle name it is surely not too fanciful to envisage a kinship with John Auckland, the second recorded tenant of the inn, thereby revealing an appropriate connection in the history of the inn between the eighteenth and the twenty-first centuries.

Dr. Terry Spencer.

Further Studies by Terry Spencer:

Willow Park Dog Racing Track
Darrington Hotel, History and Origins

Pontefract's Forgotten Man: T.J. Sides
A Very Gallant Gentleman: Captain Percy Bentley
Priming the Town Pump


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