Leadgate Community History Club

The Hotels and Inns of Leadgate


A short History of the British Public House

Throughout history, ale and beer have always formed a part of the staple British diet, the brewing process itself making it a much safer option than drinking the water of the times.

Researching the history of anything can be complicated, however the history of public houses is well documented. When the Romans invaded Britain in AD43, they not only bu​ilt roads and towns but they also built tabernae (Taverns) along the roads. Mainly of these places would have been very Italian, wine would have been sold as the staple drink for travellers. In Britain the taste was for ale, mainly brewed in the home, it did not take long for the tabernae to catch on to this and soon the British public house became a feature in Roman Britain.

These taverns or alehouses not only survived but continued to adapt to an ever changing clientele, through invading Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and not forgetting those fearsome Scandinavian Vikings. In around 970 AD, one Anglo-Saxon king, Edgar, even attempted to limit the number of alehouses in any one village. He is also said to have been responsible for introducing a drinking measure known as ‘the peg’ as a means of controlling the amount of alcohol an individual could consume, hence the expression “to take (someone) down a peg”.  

Taverns and alehouses provided food and drink to their guests, whilst inns offered accommodation for weary travellers. These could include merchants, court officials or pilgrims travelling to and from religious shrines, as immortalised by Geoffrey Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales. Source: History of the British Pub

The Hotels and Inns of Leadgate Co. Durham

Leadgate, being an industrial village, had its fair share of hotels, inns, and public houses some of wh​ich existed as far back as the mid 1800s. At the time of writing this article exact dates are still being researched, however, we do know from the History of Leadgate Industrial and Provident Society that the Golden Lion Hotel was a going concern in 1870, indeed the landlord, Mr Clough allowed them to use one of his upstairs rooms as a store.

The Coach & Horses - St Ives Road

Some photos from over the years. For photograph acknowledgements please see the credits at the bottom of the page.

The Commercial Hotel - Watling Street

The Golden Lion - Front Street

The Jolly Drovers

Back of the Shaft

The Back of the shaft, originally the Black Horse, was a very popular local hostelry in Leadgate.

The Queens Head - St Ives Road

The Sportsmans Arms - Front Street

The Hat & Feather

The Wheatsheaf - Front Street

Leadgate Workmens Club - St Ives Road

Le adgate Sports & Social Club

The Masons Arms - Iveston

The Masons Arms - Leadgate


Wayne Robson; Stephen Bridgewater; Peter Horsman; David Parkin; Jennifer Gray; Beamish Peoples Collection; Leadgate History Society

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