Time finally called on Royal Oak pub

Standing on a site later occupied by Wrenthorpe Health Centre, the Royal Oak pub was at the heart of Potovens village life throughout the 1800s. Clubs and associations held their dinners and formal events there, and it was also the venue for most coroner’s inquest proceedings.

Despite its popularity, the pub’s owners couldn’t counter the force of the early 20th century Temperance Movement, nor was it deemed necessary to have so many pubs following the opening of Wrenthorpe Working Men’s Club in 1901. There were three pubs in the village centre in close proximity – The Malt Shovel, New Wheel and Royal Oak – one of them had to go.

Leeds Mercury
Tuesday 5 February 1907

PROSPECTIVE REDUCTIONS IN LOWER AGBRIGG
CHAIRMAN AND THE GROWTH OF CLUBS

The annual licensing meeting for the Lower Agbrigg Division of the West Riding was held at Wakefield yesterday, Mr Percy Tew presiding over a large attendance of members.

The Chairman observed that they had about an average number of public houses in the division, compared with other parts of the West Riding, but there were districts in the division where there were far too many public houses in proportion to the population.

The Justices were sorry to notice that whilst they were intrusted with very much larger powers of reducing the number of public houses there was a marked increase in the number of clubs, and there was not much encouragement to try to reduce facilities for drinking by a reduction of licences when they found the number of clubs increasing.

Apart from that question, however, they were of opinion there was a good number of public houses in the division which could be spared, and which were not required for the needs of the district. They were not in a position to deal with the question that day, but there were fourteen public houses, chiefly beerhouses, concerning which they had decided to consider at the adjourned Sessions a month hence whether or not they should be referred to the compensation authority.

The houses be considered at the adjourned Sessions are –Floating Light, Flockton Moor; Little Bull, Flockton; Farmer’s Boy, Flockton; Moulders’ Arms, Middlestown; Foresters’ Arms, Stocksmoor; Travellers’ Rest, Lofthouse Gate; Royal Oak, Potovens; Lord Nelson Inn, Carlton; Prince of Wales Inn, Carlton; Miners’ Arms, Ouchthorpe Lane, Stanley; Garden Gate, Stanley Lane End; Commercial Inn, Horbury; Ring o’Bells Inn, Horbury; Spotted Cow Tavern, Horbury Junction.

At the adjourned licensing meeting on 18 March, the Royal Oak was one of four pubs magistrates decided to refer to the Compensation Authority.

By early June the pub was among those publicised as having their licences refused and seeking compensation claims. Its landlord at the time was Thomas Walker, its owner The Tadcaster Tower Brewery.

The Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 10 July 1907 briefly reports the conclusions of the Compensation Committee, which was to pay the hefty sum of £1,608 for the loss of the Royal Oak’s licence. I wonder how the compensation was shared out between the brewery and the landlord.

Mining accident deaths: roof falls

Four mid to late-19th century reports on Wrenthorpe miners killed by roof falls at local pits.

Leeds Mercury
Saturday 5 April 1856

FATAL ACCIDENT IN A COAL PIT

On Thursday evening last, an inquest was held before T Taylor, Esq, coroner, at the Royal Oak Inn, Potovens, touching the death of John Bedford, who had died on the morning of the above day from the injuries he had received on the previous Monday, whilst working in the pit of Messrs R Hudson and Co, at Newton Lane End. From the evidence of Joseph Clegg, a miner, who was working near to deceased at the time of the accident, it appeared that he and deceased were in what is termed straight work, and on hearing something fall, he called out, but, receiving no reply, took his light and looked through a slit, and saw deceased under a stone weighing about half a ton. He assisted in getting deceased out of the pit, and saw him conveyed home to Potovens in a cart. He was 27 years of age, and was attended by Mr H Horsfall, surgeon, up to the time of his death. Verdict, “Accidentally crushed”.

Barnsley Chronicle
Saturday 21 December 1861

KILLED BY A FALL COAL

On Thursday, at the Royal Oak Inn, Potovens, T Taylor, Esq, held an inquest on the body of George Whiteley, a collier, who had been killed in the St John’s Colliery, which is the property of the executors of the late Mr Benjamin Burnley. According the evidence of James Whiteley, of Wrenthorpe, who was hurrier to the deceased, it appeared that the deceased worked at the St John’s Colliery. The seam is the Stanley Main bed, which consists of two veins, the lower being a yard thick, and intervening between it and the upper vein, which is about two feet thick, there is layer of loose stone and dirt. On Monday the deceased was at his work, and had “holed” under the lower bed about two feet. The bank where was working is about ten yards long, and he had bared about four yards in the middle. He had previously “felled’’ one end, and as he was cutting the other end the coal suddenly fell, and the corner hit him on the left side, and knocked him off his stool. He was just at the time getting the last curve load for that day, previous to ceasing work. After his injury he could not rise, and had to be taken home, where died on Wednesday from the injuries had sustained. In addition to the above facts, it was stated by a collier, named John Haigh, residing at Eastmoor, that if the deceased had been standing in place of sitting when the fall occurred, he would not have been injured. The verdict returned was to the effect that the death of the deceased had resulted from his being accidentally injured.

Sheffield Independent
Saturday 31 March 1888

FATAL COLLIERY ACCIDENT AT LOFTHOUSE

On Thursday, fall of roof took place at the Lofthouse Colliery, near Wakefield. A mass of about five tons of material fell upon a young man named Albert Tattersdale, between 19 and years of age, living at Potovens, burying him under the debris. When extricated, he was found to be quite dead, being crashed in a fearful manner.

Sheffield Evening Telegraph
Wednesday 3 May 1899

INQUEST

Yesterday, Major Taylor, JP, held an inquest at the Clayton Hospital, Wakefield, on the body of Harry Scott Clay, miner, 25 yean age of Wild’s Buildings, Potovens. The deceased was employed at the Silkstone seam the Lofthouse Colliery, when a large piece of stone suddenly fell from the roof, caught Clay on the head, and caused a compound fracture of the skull. A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned.

Knitting fog, or the 80-year wait

Searching for ‘Royal Oak’ and ‘Potovens’ turned up this unexpected find. No doubt a considerable amount of spin’s been put on this story, and it chimes with the then political allegiance of the Post and Intelligencer.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Monday 9 May 1887

WRENTHORPE CONSERVATIVE ASSOCIATION

The inaugural dinner of this newly formed association was held on Saturday evening at the Royal Oak Inn, Potovens. About seventy persons sat down to an excellent repast. The company included Mr J Thomas, president; Messrs W Pearson, J Brooke, and T Thompson, vice-presidents; Mr B F Glover, president of the Alverthorpe Conservative Association; Mr J Shuttleworth of Wakefield, the Conservative agent for the Normanton Division; Mr Haigh, Silcoates Mills; Mr W Briggs, Red Hall; Mr Bryan H Ramsden, &c. A letter was read from Mr C E Charlesworth, Moor House, Stanley, regretting his inability to be present, and at the same time expressing his pleasure at the formation of the association. A resolution of confidence in Her Majesty’s Government was proposed by Mr Haigh, seconded by Mr B F Glover, and supported by Mr Shuttleworth, the latter of whom replied at length to the speech recently delivered at Wrenthorpe by Mr B Pickard, MP [founder and President of the Miners’ Association of Great Britain and the local MP], with regard to the Mines’ Regulation Bill. Other toasts followed, after which the meeting assumed a convivial character, and a very pleasant evening was spent.

It wasn’t until 80 years later, in May 1967, that the Tories actually won an election in Wrenthorpe.