Around the year 1837, William Earnshaw, who ran a pub in Dulesgate called the Old Banks, decided it was time to build newer premises a little further up, and on the opposite side of the road.


William's main rival for trade was the Blue Ball, further down the road, and he was taking a gamble that his clients would remain faithful to him and his new pub, which he called the Bay Horse.


The pub can be seen nestled in the hillside on the bend of the road

Built in the shadow of the drift mines, it occupied a precarious position with the ever-present danger of landslips. An advantage however was that it was in a sheltered position, nestling in the hillside away from the harsh winds and storms which were frequent in this exposed bit of the road.

His gamble paid off and he lost no trade. The carters, who climbed the steep gradient out of Cloughfoot, with their loads of coal, on their way to Bacup, much preferred to stop further up the hill rather than further down and Will's enterprising move paid good dividends and he kept his trade.

Dulesgate, looking back towards Cloughfoot


The pub stood a few yards above the toll bar and back from the road, leaving room for the carters and their horses to stop with their loads. This was his main trade and he made sure that they had all they needed in the way of refreshment for both them and their horses.


The miners and quarrymen were also another good source of income, always thirsty from the dust and ready for a pint and a bit of banter with friends and colleagues. The road, being a main route through from Yorkshire to Lancashire also attracted travellers and another source of income came from offering lodgings for men and horses. A few cottages, just above the pub, were nearly the last remnants of habitation on this road, so a lonely spot and especially so in winter. This area was known as Ousel Brink, (ousel being an old English word for the blackbird).

Will had built the pub without a cellar, so the wine and beer was kept cool in a cave built into the wall at the back of the building.
He would also no doubt take advantage of the Midgelden Beck, which flowed through the property.

William was one of eight children born to James and his wife Jane Butterworth of Holden Gate. He was born around 1798 and grew up in the area with his brothers and sisters. The Earnshaw family were a prolific one in the area and many of them engaged in the trades of mining and quarrying.


William married Mary Pilling from Rossendale in 1822 and in 1841 his family of wife Mary and daughter Mary, were recorded at the inn along with William Earnshaw 25 and the children of his sister Peggy, namely John Earnshaw 15, and Robert 14, William 11 and James 7, all Barker.

His brother James' widow Jane was also in the trade and was selling beer further up the road at Holden Gate, William's old home. This would have been just a beerhouse and she more than likely brewed the ale in the house and sold it to passing trade. It would be an extra source of income and a welcome stop for the horse and men as they neared the summit of Dulesgate.

Jane was a Cudworth before she married James, and from Rossendale, like William's wife. Later, her son James was also to become employed in what was fast becoming the family trade of licensees. William's cousin John also joined the family tradition by becoming the landlord of the Blue Ball, the rival pub to the Bay Horse.


William had left the Bay Horse by 1851 and William Robertshaw from Colne had taken over as the innkeeper. He still employed James Barker as a helper, so obviously trade was good. He also carried on a farming business and was able to employ household help in the way of Jane Ingham, a servant girl.


A nice story of the sort of place the inn was, can be found in the writing of Edwin Waugh, the celebrated Lancashire dialect writer, and it can be found HERE.


William Robertshaw remained at the Bay Horse until at least 1866 after which it returned to the hands of another Earnshaw, James. He was the nephew of the original owner, William Earnshaw. He was a shepherd in his earlier days, living with his mother at Holden Gate. She was the Jane who was selling beer there in 1841. He took over the Bay Horse some time near 1866 and was married to Hannah, but they had left by 1881.

On Saturday 18th July 1872, the following article was printed in the Rochdale Observer:


Todmorden Petty Sessions

Nice Doings at a Public House


James Nuttall of Tonge, Bacup, charged Reuben Jackson of the same place with having assaulted him at the Bay Horse, Dulesgate on the 3rd of July and having knocked out a tooth with his fist.

Fined 21s and costs 25s and 6d


James Nuttall also charged Robert Jackson of Bacup with an assault at the same time and place.

Fined 10s and costs 23s.


Mr. J.H. Tattersall of Bacup represented the complainant in both cases. The landlord of the Bay Horse Inn (James Earnshaw) charged the last named defendant, first with refusing to quit his house when requested to do so and second with assaulting him when endeavouring to eject him on the 3rd. inst.


Mr. J.H. Tattersall appeared for the complainant. The defendant stated that he was not disorderly nor guilty of any other misconduct meriting being turned out and only struck the complainant in defence as he was being "throttled" by him. A witness was called who corroborated the statement.


The bench were divided in opinion and the two cases were dismissed.


Joseph Mitchell and his family were the next to become the inhabitants of the Bay Horse. Joseph was from Cliviger and his wife from Crawshawbooth. Their son John Thomas had been born in Bacup around 1862, so none were natives of Todmorden.


The pub continued to thrive and was hired out for functions. It obviously had altered from its early days when carters were the main source of income and the place was noisy and full of wagers and banter, not to mention the fights that broke out.


In 1883, a function was held there on the 15th of March and was the fourth and last of a series of dinners to which the farmers of the surrounding districts had been treated to by the members of the Todmorden Hunt. Around 30 guests assembled and partook of the substantial provision made for them. 191 farmers etc. had been entertained over the four gatherings.

On 10th May 1888, the Bay Horse Inn, Dulesgate, was sold by auction at the White Hart Hotel to Mr. John Bulcock, brewer, Gauxholme, for £700. The Bulcock family had come from Burnley in the late 1860's as brewers. John ran a successful business and in 1880, he leased the Gauxholme Cotton Mill, which was in a sad state of repair as it had been affected by fire and was partly burnt down. John rebuilt the place and made it far more modern. He erected what became the Rock Springs Brewery, with stables and a dwelling house. Buying the Bay Horse, no doubt gave John another outlet for the sale of his beer and he probably rented it out to a tenant landlord.


Rock Springs House. The brewery ruins are still evident in the side garden.

The family lived at Rock Springs House, which was situated next door to the brewery at Gauxholme. John and his family of six children prospered and continued to live in Todmorden until they died. John died aged 76 in 1907 and his wife Eliza preceded him by a year. They are buried at Christ Church in the family vault along with son James.

Their son James had followed his father in the brewing business, helping at the brewery and later as a commercial traveller. He married the widow of William Hubbard, Emily Farrow, who had run the Rope and Anchor for a short while in the early 1900's. Emily also had other connections to the licensing trade as her sister Ann was married to Walter Ratcliffe of the Black Swan and Emily was living there when she married James Bulcock in 1904.

The next known landlord after Joseph Mitchell was Joseph Kershaw. A man born and bred in Dulesgate, who had been a coal miner, living at Owler Carr. He married a local girl, Matilda Barker, and by the 1880's, he had bettered himself by becoming the landlord and farmer at a hostelry situated at 487, Buckstones Rd., Crompton. Like the Bay Horse it is situated on a high road out of a valley bottom and a mining area, so his trade would have been the carters, just like the Bay Horse. This pub now called the Black Lad.

The Black Lad


The Bay Horse circa 1900.

Photo by kind permission of Roger Birch

Joseph had taken over the Bay Horse by 1891 and here he and Matilda spent their last days. He can be seen outside the pub on this photo taken around 1900. He died on 20 Feb 1904, still at the Bay Horse. He was 62.


Joseph's wife Matilda carried on for a time but by 1908 another local man, Ambrose Cudworth, was the landlord. He had been born and brought up in Cloughfoot, the son of John and Alice, born around 1873. Like many of the men in the area, he was a coal miner, and the pub must have been a welcome change from the mines. He may still have worked in the mines and left the running of the pub to his wife Clara.
He was still there in 1917 but had left by 1922 when Fred Fielden was the licensee.
Another landlord in the latter years was a chap known as "Greeny" Dawson.

One of the lodgers at the Bay Horse in June 1905, William Taylor aged just 23 from Hartlepool, met with a sad end. He was found on dead on Inchfield Moor.


The Bay Horse in 2005

The old pub shut its doors in 1937 and the building has been modernised and turned into a private house. It is still recognisable as the building which was first built in 1837 by William Earnshaw and is a credit to owners past and present, who have kept it as it was, and so retained a lovely piece of local history.