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.
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.