Andrew McCloy tells the stories of some unusual former pubs and beerhouses
High up on the Peak District moorland west of Sheffield, beyond Lodge Moor, are the three small Redmires reservoirs. They were constructed between the 1830s-50s to provide drinking water for the growing city. What looks like a memorial stone in the roadside wall between the middle and upper reservoirs is in fact the surviving sign from a beerhouse called the Grouse and Trout, which used to stand near here. The sign features a grouse and three trout, and – although it’s hard to make out – the Latin inscription Ich Dien Dinner which translates as “I serve dinner”. There was another beerhouse, called Ocean View, established nearby in the 1840s, both offering refreshments for the navvies digging the reservoirs. Ocean View closed in the 1880s, but the Grouse and Trout continued into the early years of the 20th century and was supposedly closed and later demolished after the moorland owner feared that the new influx of sightseers and tourists served by the pub would disrupt his shooting.
Another noteworthy but long-gone beerhouse could once by found at Castleton in the Hope Valley and was located at the entrance to the gaping mouth of Peak Cavern, also known more colloquially as the Devil’s Arse. The ample space and damp conditions made it popular with rope-makers, and at the turn of 1800 the cavern’s 60ft-high mouth supported several dwellings, including a beerhouse, which in 1830 became Slack’s Mineral Shop selling Blue John and other local knick-knacks.
Heading back towards Sheffield, until around 1900 you could enjoy a drink in the Cross Daggers at High Bradfield, which because it was located near the gates of St Nicholas Church was nicknamed Heaven’s Parlour or Heaven’s Gate. It was a popular haunt of the navvies working on the local reservoirs, so much so that it ended up losing its licence because they kept fighting all the time. After this it was used as a vestry, a registry office, a school and then a post office, before finally becoming a private residence.
The former Ashopton Inn in the Upper Derwent Valley faced a more conclusive end, however. It was built in 1824 as a halt for coaches on the Sheffield to Glossop turnpike, a chance to change horses and make preparations for the long haul over the Snake Pass. But the Derwent Valley Water Board earmarked the narrow valley for giant new reservoirs and in 1943 the villages of Derwent and Ashopton, including the Ashopton Inn, were emptied and mostly demolished so that building work on the massive new Ladybower dam could begin. The Board, which had purchased the inn from the Duke of Devonshire in 1902, did look into the possibility of rebuilding Ashopton Inn on a new site, but in the end the licence was transferred to separate premises at New Mills, and Ashopton and its ruined pub were permanently submerged beneath 27,500 mega litres of water.
Andrew is author of Peak District Pubs: A Pint Sized Social History, published by Gritstone Publishing in 2020. Copies are available to buy on their website.