Pubs Of The Past – Poem – Memories Of Skipton


By Brian Stott

Last week’s article I wrote for The Skipton Press about the old pubs of Skipton proved very popular and brought back many memories for Skiptonians.

Before I wrote the article I was aware that there were dozens of pubs in Skipton in times gone by and that there was a poem in existence about them.

I have managed to find the text of the poem and it is shown here for you to read.

A search of the internet locates a page which claims that the poem was discovered in a pub called The Boot in Bloomsbury in London.

My thoughts however is that it was written about pubs and hotels in Skipton and its surrounding villages as it contains many pubs that are in our area.

If it were about another town or just a poem about pub names in general there would be lots of names that don’t occur in Skipton. For example how many towns will have had an Old George and a Unicorn which are relatively uncommon names for pubs? There was a Thanet’s Arms in Skipton a photograph of it is here. The Earl of Thanet had connections with Skipton Castle and Thanet’s Yard is the area of town where Marks and Spencers is now.

The Skipton Civic Society agree the poem relates to Skipton as there is reference on the internet to a representative of theirs giving a talk about Skipton Pubs and using the text of the poem as illustration.  

Current day drinkers can see the poem on the wall of Early Doors Micro Pub on Newmarket Street. This bar, in fact, is located in the building where The Craven Arms mentioned in the poem was until 1974. So after years as a Bookmakers, it is back to its original use.

Here is an old photograph of The Black Horse which is the main antagonist in the poem. It hasn’t really changed that much.

Here is the poem, I know most of them but do not know where the Wheatsheaf, Star, King William, Nag, Hart and Joiners were located. Can anyone shed any light on these?

How many of them do you recall?


A Run Across the Signs

There’s my Black horse he’ll face the Lion
And make the Bay horse fly
He’ll turn the Wheat Sheaf upside down
And drink the Fountain dry

He’ll leave a mark upon the Fleece
Take shine out of the Star
And make King William sue for peace
Before the Castle bar

He’ll crush the Midland on his tour
And make the Shepherd scream
Despatch Commercials any hour
To Devonshire for cream

He’ll twist the Cross Keys out of shape
And fill the Nag with dread
The Albion shall not escape
The Hart must lose it’s head

He’ll make the New Ship spring a leak
Give Craven Arms a jerk
And make the Kings afraid to speak
When Joiners are at work

He’ll straighten up the Rose and Crown
The Royal Oak must fall
He’ll knock the Cock and Bottle down
And close the Hole in t’Wall

He’ll slip the Thanet’s down a nick
And make the Heifer grin
Then canter off and throw the Brick
Beyond the Railway Inn

He’ll make the Craven look forlorn
And strain Old George’s hip
Destroy the boasting Unicorn
And then upset the Ship


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