Thursday, 25 October 2012

Pubs of Old Baldock: The White Horse & the Falcon

35 White Horse Street
& 1 Station Road.

The White Horse and The Falcon were two Baldock pubs that once upon a time stood adjacent to each other around the top end of White Horse Street; with the main one being The White Horse, and just around the corner, on what is now Station Road (formerly a part of the Great North Road), was the Falcon. 

The latter mentioned being, quite interestingly, the one which is still open.  Confusing, but with that being said - this is because that the history of both these pubs (which is spoke about more a little later on in this article) pretty much ends up running together.

Although to put it more plainly what can be said for now is that the current pub was before it became the Old White Horse, the Falcon.  The same reason why that if you go to the current pub you will see a black sign in the car park, which features a Golden Falcon's head on it.  Not something that stands out if you don't know this old pubs history, but it certainly has to be a tribute to this old pubs former title.

So you could argue that it isn’t The Falcon which is the dead pub of the two, but the former White Horse.  A place long disappeared from its standing along the busy White Horse Street, and only reminant now in the rebuilt foundations of 35 White Horse Street.


Whilst open under the name of the Falcon there isn't a great deal of mentions of the current Old White Horse.   Although one quite notable entry is perhaps the fire that started at this pub in 1730.   A blaze that caused considerable damage to its adjacent neighbour the original White Horse, which then had its own Brew House and Bowling Green.

About The Falcon though. What else is known is that it was also an Inn, and for part of the time it was open, maybe most the time it had operated as an establishment - under this name, it's owner was the Baldock (later Simpsons) Brewery.

Also as a pub/ Inn it was open mainly during the 1700's, and It became the White Horse brewhouse after a merger with the original White Horse in 17?.  Before eventually becoming the current pub of today at some point between 1860 and 1870.

So under the name of the Falcon there's not much else to write really about todays pub, but as for the original White Horse, (Pictured Below) a lot more is known.

Certainly one of Baldocks oldest pubs alongside; the George and Dragon, White Lion, and Rose & Crown.  Its origins date all the way back to almost certainly the 1600's, with a deed dated from 1635, as proof of this, but in fact, if the publication of 'Leigh's New Pocket Road-Book..., on the plan of Reichards Itineraries', is anything to go by the White Horse was almost certainly open in the year of 1550.  So quite possibly a good hundred years older.

Which makes it quite sad really that this old pub didn't survive the days of Queen Victoria.  Indeed Its decline began in the 1850's after the opening of the railway made it to hard to compete with other similar establishments.  Although not that the pub didn't try - perhaps in the belief that people would stop off on their train journeys to spend the night, but unfortunately it had become the end of an era, and this once very busy pub/ Inn finally closed for good in about 1864. 

From here it became a school, something which one can assume was done to put the old building again in to good use, but shortly after this the building was destroyed by a fire.  Taking with it the remains of one of Baldock's most famous drinking spots. 


About the Original White Horse.

A place used mostly by the better class of travellers, and Royal Mail coaches, and many of the long-distance coaches stopped here, every day or every other day, to and from Glasgow, Leeds, York, Lincoln, and Stamford.

It was somewhere during its tenure at these former premises that was a stop off point for some of the days quite notable characters.  People including many of the days well known hunting and sporting personalities came here, as well as Art & Literary figures. Some of which included the artist Milias, and the cartoonist Leech. The latter a man responsible, in part for painting one of the old pubs signs, an item that was eventually acquired for a private art collection.

The size of the old pub, estate included, was also of quite a notable stature, and as the plan which I shall include with this writing suggests - That the White Horse tied estate covered much of the Pubs side of the road. An area which it has been said stretchered almost all the way to Football Close on the other side.



The White Horse & The White Horse Brewery

According to the book 'Brewers in Hertfordshire - A Historical Gazetter', The White Horse Brewery was a building that once stood behind The Victoria, or as it was then known The Sun.  It was a small, but tall building opened at some point before 1736 by the Noy family. It stood quite interestingly well into the 20th Century (1998 to be exact), but it actually closed in 1881.  So a bit of mystery really why any place could be left to lay derelict for so long, but anyway.

Whilst the Brewery was open its ownership was well documented, from its first sale to William Penn in 1793, to its takeover by William Oliver in 1843, and finally its last 10 years, from 1861 to 1871, after it was sold to Josiah Parker.

Its roots it can be assumed are that the brewery was opened due to the growing business of the White Horse Inn, and as well this other Baldock pubs supplied by the brewery were the Victoria, The Eight Bells, and (I think) The Coopers Arms.

In fact something quite fascinating actually links these said places, and that is that connected to the Brewery - were a series of tunnels running underground to each pub.  Something actually which is widely believed to be true about a lot of Baldock pubs, but about this place in particular.  It was said actually to have had problems with its water supply caused by its on site pig sty, and also it had connected a hen house, and a barn.  Its possible reminants are probably still to be seen in the back garden of todays Victoria - a place I shall go on about in another article.


The Old White Horse in Modern Times.

In its most modern era The Old White Horse is a usual quiet place with a relaxed atmosphere. A place you can come to have a drink from a cool variety of different brews, a game of pool, or to chillout in its nice peaceful beer garden on a Summers day.

Otherwise more excuses to pop by are for the fortnightly open mic nights, and live music at the weekend. The massive annual Baldock Beer festival, and the chilling Psychic nights.

A place that has come quite along way since the 1970's pram race, and from my personal favourite memory, of one of the pubs old Landlords in the 1990's 'Winston' who use to have quite amazingly a pet Sheep. The White Horse is one of many great pubs still open in Baldock, and for keen visitors is only a couple of minutes away from the train station.

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