Fishlake History Society

Recording historical information before it disappears

Fishlake History Society

Recording historical information before it disappears

Ale Houses and Pubs in bygone Fishlake.


At a Tudor Ale House. From an internet resource.

Ale house, inns and public houses have been a vital and familiar part of English life especially in rural communities and Fishlake is no exception. Indeed the church and the ale house were at the centre of village life for hundreds of year.

By the 15 th century’s there were three main types of retail outlets as follows: Alehouses (sometimes called tippling houses), where beer and ale were brewed and sold on the premises. Ale was the more ancient of drinks compared to beer, which includes hops, which had been introduced from Flanders’s about 1400. Taverns, where wine as well as beer and ale could be sold. Inns, provided shelter, stabling etc, as well as food and drink.

Legislation 1729 Brewster Sessions at which JP's would be license retailers were instituted.

1828 Alehouse Act. This consolidated previous legislation and redefined the role of the JP’s.

1830 Beerhouse Act. This allowed a householder, assessed to the poor rate, to retail beer from his own house, on payment of 2 guineas. The purpose of this Act was to discourage the sale of spirits. Information taken from The Local Historian’s Encyclopaedia by John Richardson.

The first reference to Inns and Ale house in Fishlake is from 1686 when we learn that Fishlake has 4 guest beds and 8 stabling for houses. This appears in Inns and Ale houses returns of accommodation for men and horses held at The National Archives at Kew.


White Lion. The only evidence I have found proving it’s existence is a newspaper notice from the Doncaster Gazettee of 1788, “August 7th 1788, there was a sale at Mr Heward’s White Lion, Fishlake, of a small copyhold estate at Sykehouse, in the occupation of Widow Bailey. No attorney’s name is mentioned, and the reference is to Mr Richard France, in Fishlake”. Precise location unknown. It is entirely possible that it close and reopened as the Red Lion.

It is worth noting that there is a close and relevant relationship between White Lion and Fishlake Church. On the south side of the exterior of the church tower are carved two badges, a falcon and fetter lock, the badge of Edward IV (1461-1483) a rose summoned by a royal crown, on which a lion is sejant affronte (A lion borne in full face, with his forepaws extended sideways in a sitting position). Edward IV had direct connections to the honour of Conisbrough of which Fishlake was a part. In the Parish Burial Register Mr Robert Heward innkeeper is recorded as dying of fever aged 58 in 1784 so I am assuming his son took over the establishment.

Red Lion. First reference comes from the Baines, West Riding trade directory of 1822 when James Carr was the landlord as he was according to the 1838 White's trade directory. No mention in the census returns of 1841. Location unknown.

Ring of Bells. First referenced in a cash account book belonging to the Allyn’s Charity 1778-1886. In 1774 “to cash spent at the Ring of Bells at three different times”. In Baines, West Riding trade directory of 1822 William Bingham was the victueller as they termed it in those days, this word has maritime origins meaning innkeeper. Location unknown.
In the 1838 White's trade directory George Cheetham was the landlord and again in the 1841 census returns.This is the last reference to this establishment. Interestingly George Cheetham was also practicing as a wheelwright. He was born in 1789 the son of John and Hannah, his father was also a wheelwright. George married Elizabeth Bingham in 1834 which may account for him taking over the running of the Ring O Bells. Also worth noting is that the road leading from Pinfold Lane to the front of the Church was recorded in the Enclose Map of 1825 as Cheetham Road.
The sale of the Ring of Bells in 1847 appears in the Leeds Intelligencer of Saturday 07 August 1847 a notice as follows “ Lot 9. All that Public House, called the Ring of Bells, with the Yard, Stable, and Outbuildings thereto belonging, situated in the Town Street of Fishlake aforesaid, and in the occupation of Joseph Downing, and containing by survey, including the site of the said Public House and Buildings…. 0a 0r 10 perch. The sale also gives a clue to its location ie Town Street, which at the time refers to the road now called Main Street.

Hare and Hounds. Currently the only surviving pub in the village and the longest establish in Fishlake. Located right next to the parish church gates. The earliest reference is 1812 mentioned in the Doncaster, Nottingham and Lincoln Gazette of 3rd January 1812. The Baines Trade directory of 1822 gives William Briggs as the victueller but by 1838 White's trade directory tells us that Thomas Trimingham had taken over and was still landlord in the 1841 census returns. In the 1851 census returns George Cook is recorded as landlord but the 1857 Kelly's trade directory has William Cook as landlord, this could be a mistake? By the 1861 census returns Richard Potter is in charge and again in 1871. In 1893 Edmund Westerby is then the landlord as recorded in Kelly's trade directory of that year.

Walter Terry was landlord in 1901 according to the census returns. The Kitching family took over the pub in 1915 from Mr and Mrs Hick. Mr William Henry Kitching ran the public house until his death in 1955 when his son Jack took over. He was followed by his son until 1982, a total 67 years in one family. After John. Geoffrey Firth was landlord until 19th June 1985 when Alan and Jayne Stracey took charge. They left on 14th September 2000 and were succeeded by Anne and John Brabbs and then Mrs Claire Hollings.

Hare and Hounds, Fishlake in bygone days. The board over the door has the Hicks family as innkeeeper.

Old Anchor. Recently closed down but the building still remains in situ to be repurposed. It has been suggested that a Mr Henry Terry, a former sea captain, was the first landlord.The first reference to this establishment is 1822 from Baines, West Riding trade directory when Hugh Rowbottom was the landlord and was still in charge at the 1841 census returns. By the 1851 census returns Joseph Rowbottom was landlord, I assume this was his son. Kelly's trade directory of 1857 has Asa Wadworth as landlord but by the census returns of 1861 it was William Waite. Then in 1871 the landlord was Abraham Coates. In 1893 Kelly's trade directory has Edward Spink as landlord.

The present building replaced an early property in 1895 as referenced in Sheffield Independent on Monday 26th August 1895. “The Anchor Inn, at Fishlake has been rebuilt to plans approved by the magistrates, and it is now a very good and convenient house, with good stable accommodation.

Not long after the rebuild a fire broke out in January 1899 the incident was described in the Eastern Morning News on Tuesday 17 January 1899. “ The Fire Brigade was called out to a blaze at Fishlake on Saturday. During a high wind a paraffin lamp exploded in a bedroom at the Anchor Inn. The bedroom was quickly in flames, and before the fire could be checked, part of the building was destroyed. The damage is estimated at over £100”.

According to the 1901 Census retrains Henry H F Terry was the landlord. Alfred James Waite was in residence for a number of years before his death at the pub on 28th 1928. The Silvester family kept the pubic house until about 1930 when Mr Roe became the new landlord. Mr Roe ran a charabanc service from Fishlake to Doncaster from premises at Hay Green. (This business was the forerunner of Roseville Coaches in Stainforth). Landlords after the Roe’s are as follows: Mr John Grey in 1939, Mr Tom Williams, Mr Ambrose Abbas, Mr Liddell, Mr Malcolm Greenslade, Mr and Mrs J FitzPatrick, Mrs E Grint, Mr and Mrs M Confield November 2000 and Dee Atkinson.


Old Anchor Inn, Main Street, Fishlake, a few years before it closed. Thanks to Google Earth.

Bridge Foot Inn/ Ship Inn. This establishment was housed in one of the cottages which were build about 1840  1893 White’s Trade Directory has Amos Elm as as a beer retailer. 

A strange event occurred at the Ship Inn as recorded in the Yorkshire Evening Post on Friday 12 May 1899 as follows “ Mrs Elm the wife of Amos Elm, of the Ship Inn, Little Fishlake, Thorne ( this was a local name for a small collection of houses and cottages within the parish of Fishlake but very close to Stainforth), has mysteriously disappeared from her home. She has been dejected of late, and left home on Wednesday night, leaving a farewell note for her husband for her husband. She was seen to make her way to Barnby Dun Car, Doncaster”. I have no information about the outcome. The 1901 census returns has Thomas Silvester as landlord. About 1910 The Ship Inn closed and the then landlord Mr Thomas Silvester moved to The Old Anchor in Fishlake. 

The bracket from the old pub sign can still be seen in this picture taken by the author in 1973 before recent renovations.

More reminders of the Ship Inn.


Low Ferry Inn. In the 1851 census return Richard Fratson appears to occupy the same house but its’ location is now described as “Fratson’s Ferry”. Richard lived there with his wife Elizabeth, (53), son Charles (14), described as being “At Home” and son Henry (9), described as a scholar. Interestingly Richard’s occupation is described as a “Beer House Keeper”. At this time, a beer house was sometimes no more than a room in a house and this was perhaps a good way of boosting the family income. Certainly, the location would have been busy, particular so at market times, with traffic to and from Thorne and beyond.

After Richard’s death, Elizabeth Fratson continued to live at Fratson’s Ferry as the entry in the 1861 census describes her as the head of the household (63) and “Keeper of the Ferry and Beerhouse”. According to the census returns of 1871 William Schofield occupied the premises.
Thanks to Carole Smith for her research into this matter, see her River Don Crossings Fishlake - Jubilee Bridge 2021 article on Fishlake History.

The site of the Low Ferry Inn at Jubilee Bridge. The house has been demolished.

Information form oral traditions but not evidenced by historical records.

Carpenters Alms. According to the late Miss Smith of The Elders that property was formally a pub called The Carpenters Arms. During the 1970’s she told me there was signs of a bar and an arch beer cellar within the property.

The Elders in 1970’s.

Oral tradition in the village has it that Poplar Farm, now demolished, may also have been a place were ale was sold as there was in one room a wooden bar and surround, (this could be merely a private bar). Also a pub at Fosterhouses.


Please note I have not added pub landlords beyond the year 2000.

I am grateful to the publication, Fishlake The Story Of A South Yorkshire Village for some of the information above. Also to Carole Smith for further information about this topic.

Robert Downing January 2023.