Bacup Road, Cloughfoot



In the mid 1800's, the British Queen was the third pub on the Dulesgate Road. Its main competition was from the Blue Ball and the Bay Horse, both situated further up the hill towards Bacup.

Robert Barker was the man who gambled that a pub at the bottom of the steep hill over to Bacup would pay off and take some of the custom from the other two. He also caught the trade coming over the Sourhall Road into Cloughfoot.

British Queen about 1900 left of centre



This road can be seen snaking its way down in this photo, coming out at the gap between the two terraces. This photo shows the building still standing, although the adjoining properties are now a pile of stones.


Robert was only able to obtain a beer licence, as against the other two pubs, which had full licences, so he was at a disadvantage. However, the British Queen made inroads on the Blue Ball's profits, as a stop at the bottom of the hill proved very popular with the carters. They were a fickle lot and their allegiance to the old Blue Ball counted for nothing. The Bay Horse managed to survive the additional pub, and its trade stayed faithful. They more than likely also took advantage of an extra stop at the bottom of the hill, after all two stops are better than one when it means another drop of beer can be consumed.


The first known keeper of the British Queen was Joseph Barker in 1853. He may have been the son of Robert Barker who was the later landlord. Robert was born around 1795, one of the seven children of Charles and his wife Susan, who was a Hamer before her marriage. This same Charles Barker was involved for a time in the Stoneswood Mill. (story HERE)


Robert was brought up to a farmer's way of life and it was never to leave him. His father had farmed at Hangingshaw and his brother Charles continued to farm there after their father's death in 1836. Robert married Betty Mitchell in 1818, the daughter of William and Susan of Gibbet. Betty's brother, John Mitchell, also married into the Barker family in 1821, by marrying Robert's sister Sally. Robert became a farmer like his father and moved to Midgelden before becoming the landlord at the British Queen, where he was to be found in 1861.


Robert eventually got a full licence for the British Queen when the Blue Ball shut down, possibly some time around 1861. He won the battle for trade and the Blue Ball sold their full licence to the British Queen.


Betty died before 1861 and left Robert running the inn on his own. His married daughter Susan and her husband Thomas Crossley are living with him at the inn, and Robert is farming 20 acres. He has some help from Jeremiah Thornton, who is working for him as a labourer. Thomas and Susan have three young children, and it is more than likely that the running of the pub would have been her job, whilst the men folk were at work. Her husband was a manufacturing chemist and they later moved to Manchester, spending only a short time at the pub.


Incidents were not uncommon, and on the 5th May 1863, the theft of two brass candlesticks, the property of the landlord, Robert Barker, took place. The thief was a local man, Robert Sanderson, who ran off with the candlesticks, but was caught in Bacup by P.C. Turner, to whom he confessed the theft. He was committed for trial when the case was heard at the Magistrates office. Robert Sanderson was a native of Bacup. He was a widower by the time he was 22 and a couple of years before the theft he was boarding at Rise Lane. He worked as a carter, so no doubt in the course of his work, would have had cause to stop at the British Queen, and the temptation of the brass candlesticks proved too much for him. It is not recorded what his sentence was.


Robert was still running the pub and farming 36 acres at the age of 75. His youngest son Alfred had married by this time and he, his wife Ann and their four young children, lived at the British Queen with Robert. At his age, he would be grateful for the help.


After Robert died, the British Queen changed hands, and by the early 1880's, the landlord was Lawrence Lord from Padiham. He was only 27, but he and his wife Ellen Ann did not stay for long before moving on. By the late 1880's, James Law and his wife Mary had taken over and were running the pub. Living with them for a while were widowed sister-in-law Anna Earnshaw and niece Ellen.

James saw the advantage of the nearby Cloughfoot Chapel, the pub being situated near the bottom of Sourhall Road, very near to the chapel and a convenient choice for many of the funeral teas needed when a burial took place. Temperance of course.
He was shrewd enough to see that advertising paid, and took out adverts in the local almanac. James' wife Mary died in July 1895 and James remarried in October 1897 at the Zion Chapel at Cloughfold, Rawtenstall, to Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Feather of the Royal Oak, Bacup. A case of like marrying like.
At the turn of the century, the British Queen was still going strong and the landlord was James Edward Livesey from Littleborough, who took over from James Law in 1898. He was quick to advertise his presence as a new landlord always attracted the nosey customer, eager to see what changes he would make and see what credit he could get, if any. Some landlords would be more lax than others on this subject. It seems from the advert that James Edward was keeping to the old traditions of offering rooms, stabling and funeral teas.

And so, the old Queen came into the twentieth century and continued to serve as a welcome stop for passing travellers and workmen alike. A succession of landlords followed, Frank Tidswell and William Thomas being two.

By 1917, the pub had again come into the hands of a Barker, but this time it was by the first name and he was Barker Earnshaw. Barker came from the prolific Earnshaw family of Clough Foot. His grandfather, Luke Earnshaw, had been in the area since his birth around 1795, and he and his wife Mary produced a large family who lived variously at Old Cote, Ousel Brink, and the cottages near the Bay Horse. The children mostly stayed in the area and one son, George, married and farmed at Midgelden for a while and later went to work at the brick works in the area. George and his wife Emma's children can all be found at Rock Nook in 1891, grown and with their own families by this time.

Barker also lived at Rock Nook and he married a girl from Bacup, which is where they went to live after their third daughter Emma was born in 1895. They lived at Top o' th' Lane  where he farmed and did some work as a carter for the brick works. His wife Emma died in 1914 whilst they were still in Bacup and he moved back to Clough Foot to become the landlord by 1917. He died at the great age of 80 in 1944 and is buried along with his wife at Clough Foot Chapel.

Barker had left the pub by 1922 and the next and final landlord was William Jackson. As trade declined, so did the pub, and today it is now a private house.

Sometime over the next few years the stable block and buildings attached to the old pub were demolished (this is the area where the pile of stones is now; stone that was later used to rebuild the gable and back wall of the building), and the building had been purchased by William Gadsby for use as a residential property.

In 1958, Harry and Marian Pemberton purchased the building and began converting it to their own requirements. They lived there with their two children until 1982, when they moved out because of building and re-roofing work.

In 1997, after the building had been empty for 15 years, the property was taken over by their daughter Sheila and her husband Richard. In 2003, after extensive renovation, they finally moved in, and continue to work on the building.

If anyone has any photos, external or internal, the couple would be very interested in them and can be contacted at


The British Queen

With grateful thanks to Richard Hudson for his contribution