Friday, March 29, 2019

Kendal, the Slip Inn

The Slip Inn
Market Place

The building once occupied by the Slip Inn is now home to Middleton's iron mongers in the market place.

  Above. Front of the inn facing onto the Market Place. 

Borough records state that the inn was owned by Isaac Kirkby until 1813. The yard running down the right hand side of the inn, the Slip Inn Yard, used to be home to a number of butchers, all with the reputation of leaving pools of entrails and effluent flowing down the yard.

  Above. Entrance down the side of the old inn building.

The inn was sold at auction along with the land lord's dwelling house in 1863 when it was owned by William Norman. Drastic changes were made to the frontage in 1865, when the overhanging jetted facade was removed. The Slip Inn ceased trading in 1898.

Kendal, Shakespeare Inn

Shakespeare Inn

In 1829, it was reported in the Kendal press, that a new inn called the Shakespeare was to be built at the head of the yard that lead to the newly built theatre, and bankrolled by Mr Simpson of Watch Field (now known as Wattsfield) Simpson was well healed, having amassed a large personal fortune from the coach building trade, George III reputedly being one of his patrons.

He also bankrolled the theatre, built to designs by local architect John Richardson. The theatre and the inn opened in 1829, with theatre goers no doubt providing a steady stream of customers. However, under intense pressure from the local Quakers, Presbyterians and Temperance group, the theatre was forced to close only five years later. It was converted to a billiard room and ball room from this point on.

A map of 1872 shows the Shakespeare and its attendant buildings extending all the way back to Garth Heads at the top of Allhallows Lane, no doubt providing stabling and letting rooms for patrons. In 1869, Jabez Harper purchased the inn for £2430 after previously renting it. 

The 1892 borough Police records state that Jabez's wife, Ann, was the licensee. The inn  used to have both a side and front entrance, though the front entrance has now been changed to access for a separate property in the basement. It had ten letting rooms and seating for thirty people, and, reputedly, stabling for 85 horses....though the late Brendan Jameson thought this may have been unlikely given the space behind the inn.

Between 1921 and 1936, various alterations were made to the inn. The bar was moved, the rear of the inn was converted to a lounge area and several buildings to the rear were converted to additional staff and customer bedrooms.

From the mid to late 1920s, the inn was owned by the Collin Croft Brewery Company. By 1937 the inn was in the joint ownership of Messrs. W. Younger Ltd. and Collin Croft Brewery Ltd. In 1950, the inn was owned by three companies, Messrs. W. Younger Ltd, Colin Croft Brewery Ltd and Abbey and Hollyrood Breweries based out of Edinburgh.

By 1957\58, plans state that only Colin Croft Brewery were in ownership. In 1961, Scottish and Newcastle took over. Another survivor that seems to be thriving.

Kendal, The Fleece Inn

The Fleece Inn

Generally accepted as one of Kendal's oldest surviving inns, if not the oldest, the Fleece is one of the most prominent survivors of our bygone pub history. According to local guide books and local historians, the date 1654 was found on a panel within the building, lending some tenuous support to the inn's age. It's also one of Kendal's few surviving timber framed buildings.

Above. Old postcard showing the Fleece Inn (from personal collection)

 Above. Old postcard showing the Fleece Inn (from personal collection)

Originally called the Golden Fleece, a reference to the symbol used by woolcombers guilds during annual guild processions, the inn was the starting point for the county of Westmorland's first stage coach service in 1772.

Above. Ye Olde Fleece Inn, 2006.

The Fleece inn is the only building along Strickland Gate that has retained its original jetted first floor, supported on five pillars. Old photos and postcards show many buildings with this sort of facade....all have been removed over the years.

Above. Ye Olde Fleece Inn, 2006.

It seems that, due to the small number of letting rooms available in the past (only six) the Fleece was never really regarded as one of Kendal's main inns, even though it had stabling for 28 horses....a slight imbalance.

Above. Ye Olde Fleece Inn, 2006.

As well as the main building, the smaller building to the left of the Fleece, was originally part of the inn, as were a number of buildings to the rear. Most were used for storage of beer, coal and other goods.

 Above. Ye Olde Fleece Inn, 2007.

In 1920, the inn was owned by the Westmorland Catering Company Ltd. In 1934, Rowland Hoggarth, previously of the Shakespeare, was the Fleece's owner. He remained there from 1925 until 1934. He sold the inn for around £32,000. During his ownership, the inn's landlady was his wife Martha.

Above. Ye Olde Fleece Inn, 2007.

By 1930, the Fleece was owned by North British Trust Hotels Ltd. and it was during this period of ownership, that the Fleece probably became one of Kendal's most prominent drinking establishments. It was so popular, that the owners had trouble finding accommodation for the additional staff.

Above. Ye Olde Fleece Inn's sign, 2017.

By 1956, the Fleece was owned by local brewers, Collin Croft Brewery Co. Ltd. operating out of Collin Croft just off Beast Banks. The company was sold to Scottish Brewers Ltd. who later became Scottish and Newcastle some years later.

Above. Ye Olde Fleece Inn, 2019, after extensive renovation.

The inn's life during the 80s, 90s and 2000s has been a mixed bag of success, closure, renovation and reopening.....with its final incarnation appearing in February this year with a million pound rebuild resulting in the shiny new inn we see today. Fingers crossed the Fleece doesn't go the way of so many other town centre inns and pubs.