Roebuck Inn, High Street

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The Roebuck in March 2002.

The Roebuck was both a farm and an inn when originally built. The lower part of the building with the cottage and barn, is old as the upper windows in this section suggests 17th century styles. Being in Rishton town it is likely that there was an inn there in medieval times.

Formally known as the Stag Inn, the Roebuck was extended in 1753. It was part of the original turnpikes road system of Lancashire, opened the following year, and was extended for this reason, in anticipation of the expected upturn in the number of coaches, but the Roebuck was never a toll house.

End of the war. Outside the Roebuck at the end of the first World War.

The building is situated on High Street in the town, and sits at an angle to the road. There are still cobbles at the base of the front steps which were used for unloading passengers off the stage coaches.

An 1890 picture of the Roebuck with barn still attached.

The cobbles were once part of Magdelene Lane, which ran along a similar line to Henry Street, travelling to Church and Oswaldtwistle before Hermitage Street was constructed over the canal.

The date stone over the door in the building says 1753, This means that during 2003 the building should have been celebrating 250 years existence!! Sadly, nothing happened. With the date are the initials of Thomas and Grace Duckworth, who were tenants there in 1750, and whose family line stayed in the inn for 3 generations, their lease ending in 1842, almost a hundred years of tenancy.

In 1785 the Manor Court was meeting here twice a year, at the home of Joseph Duckworth, and he supplied dinners to the jury of fifteen tenants. This is were the stories come from of the cellars being used as prison cells for criminals, although this has never been proven.

Cobbles and gas lights depit this picture.

It wasn't until 1854 that the name was changed from the Stag to the Roebuck, this was only some 12 years after the Duckworth family had finally let the tenancy go.

An email from Jennifer Marks in January 2008, tells me that her family tree includes the Duckworth's, and that in 1714 Thomas Duckworth was listed as an innkeeper.

Both his sons, Joseph Duckworth (1753 and mentioned above the picture) and Robert Duckworth (1789), were also listed as innkeepers.

Thomas was listed as a husbandman in all his children's christenings until it came to Joseph and it changed to innkeeper.

The 1825 Gazetteer of Blackburn shows that at this time (1825) Joe Duckworth was in charge of the "Black Bull", and Robert Duckworth was in the "Dog and Buck". It is easy to believe that the Dog and Buck could have been the Roebuck at this time, but it is listed as being at "Hoult", which surely means the Holt we know now by the river. The public house at Holt was to be the "Petre Arms"

Joseph was always listed as innkeeper and Robert was listed in the 1841 census as publican by 1851 he had moved to Blackburn.

The Roebuck was sold by auction in December 1897, for £22,600 to Messrs. Cunningham and T. & W. Thwaite's of Blackburn.

It wasn't long before things started to change at the Inn, as Thwaite's became one of the biggest local brewers in Blackburn who are still producing Ales today, they are the only brewers left from this era, surviving all changes and take over offers. Within 12 months, during 1898, plans were submitted for alteration. This was possible to remove the Georgian windows, and the addition of the shell hood over the door way.

Beer Delivery in 1910.

The barn was demolished in 1920, but by viewing the setts (cobbles) that still exist at the front of the inn, it is possible to see the road leading to the barn door.

Animals that strayed on the common were put into the pinfold or pound and were kept there until the owner paid a fine. This pound is visible in some of the earlier pictures on this page, particularly the one from 1890.

The Pinfold, or pound was used for storage purposes as well, and up to the 1980s the setts were still visible showing some of the original location of this pound. A car park has now been built for the inn on this location and the front of the inn has the zebra crossing directly outside its door.

The Roebuck can be seen in the picture here, in 1968, all decorated for a visit to Rishton from the Queen.

The Queens visit in 1968.

A billiard hall was built on part of the pinfold, this was first licensed in 1914, and later became a skating rink, four years after the picture showing beer being delivered above. The lorry in the picture was registered in Preston, and was an early Leyland motors truck. The company at this time was Mathew Brown & Co. Ltd., who were based in Blackburn at Little Harwood until the brewery was bought out in the 1980's by the Scottish and Newcastle brewery Company who closed the Blackburn brewery down but kept the trading name. Mathew Brown was famous for their Lion brand of beer, and in 1977 brought out a special jubilee beer for the Queens silver jubilee.

On the 21st January 1943, the Council amended the rateable value of the Roebuck Inn from £107 to £142. It was then amended again from £142 to £170. 12 months later, on the 17th August 1944, the building was re-rated yet again. The Gross Value was £218per annum, with a Rateable Value of £178. It was proposed by Rishton Urban District Council to change this to £211 Gross Value, with a Rateable Value of £172.

On the 12th July 1951, Attention was drawn to a low wall overlooking private land belonging to the Brewery Company, and to the danger arising there from to children playing in the neighbourhood. The Council Clerk was requested to enquire into the matter and to communicate with the owners.

Roebuck bottle

This picture was sent to me in June 2003, by email, when it was discovered that the bottle was for sale on a web site. No information is known about this bottle, but if anyone could date it, or give me any other information about I would be grateful.

It is said that the Bay Window in the side of the Roebuck which faces George Street, is said to have once been the biggest bay window in Europe. Does anyone know if this is true?

Roebuck with Barn.
The Roebuck with the original barn building at the side.
The same picture, but taken on the 2nd June 2009.

It is also said that the Roebuck is haunted. Over the years "Ghost Hunters" are said to have visited the Inn, and felt the presence of spirits, not surprising in a pub!

18th July 2010
Roebuck on the 18th July 2010

Barmaid Took Her Own Life

The landlady of the Roebuck paid tribute to a "captivating" barmaid who was found dead in her flat after she failed to turn up for work. Bev Adamson said 18-year-old Sarah Marie O'Dea was loved by both staff and customers.

But an inquest, held on Friday 2nd June 2006, found that the teenager, whose family are from Burnley, had taken her own life in February.

A bench was put outside the pub in her memory, using money from a collection at the pub following her death, and the pub had also had a star named after her.

The inquest heard how police went to Sarah's home in Weaver's Court, Blackburn, after Mrs. Adamson raised the alarm when she failed to show up for her shift at the pub.

They found her body on the living room floor, surrounded by empty packs of cocodamol.

Subsequent toxicological tests showed she had taken a massive dose of cocodamol which, mixed with alcohol, had caused her death.

The inquest heard that there was also a suicide note on the table.

Her mother, Mary Hilton, told the hearing she had been with Sarah the day before her death and she had seemed excited because she was going to a 21st birthday party. They had gone shopping to buy a new dress for the party.

"She didn't express any concerns about anything, but she did say that she missed Burnley," said Mrs. Hilton. "She was laughing and joking when we dropped her off in Rishton."

Coroner Michael Singleton said he was satisfied that at the time Miss O'Dea consumed the tablets it was her intention to bring about her own demise.

"I have little doubt that had she overcome the crisis of the moment, the following day she would have viewed things differently," said Mr Singleton.

Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Adamson said: "I treated Sarah like a daughter. She was a captivating person. She had a few things going on in her life that she was confused about, but the night before we had all been to a 21st birthday party. She had been really happy and had been going round telling everyone that she loved them. But obviously beneath the facade there was something else going on that we didn't know about."

Mrs. Adamson added: "We all really miss her."


John Christopher Lynch via email.

Ester Sharp (Harwood Road)