The Horse and Groom Inn

We have just met Tommy Attenborough and his surname is linked with this area and especially the inn situated here.

What’s in a name? … The Gallows.

Several texts refer to the set of Gallows sited at Ilkeston — simply a structure of two uprights and a crosspiece, all made of wood. In his ‘History of Ilkeston’, Edwin Trueman refers to it standing in “a garden, by the side of the turnpike-road, near the stone bridge which crosses the River Erewash, at Gallows Inn”. Its upkeep and repair were in the hands of the local inhabitants, a task which therefore freed them of certain tolls and/or taxes. By the time of the book’s writing (1880) the structure had completely disappeared, though Glover’s ‘History of Ilkeston’ of 1829 includes it as still standing.

On November 28th 1861, a letter written by ‘Enquirer’ was printed in the Ilkeston Pioneer …

Sir, A year or two ago this old relic (Ilkeston Gallows) was blown down and I find that it has not yet been restored. Can any of your readers tell me whether it is true that the inhabitants of Ilkeston are entitled to any benefit by its maintenance, as respects freedom from tolls, etc ? If so, ought it not to be repaired or replaced, and if so, by whom?  The Board of Highways, voluntary subscription, or how ?

This suggests the Gallows may have vanished in the 1850s (?) along with any pecuniary benefit .. if any had ever existed.


The Inn by the Gallows

Adeline recollects that “the Gallows Inn was below the canal.”

At Gallows Inn, on the east side of the Nottingham Road, was sited the Horse and Groom Inn — also known in the early part of the century as the Horse and Jockey (as in 1811 when it was owned by John Lowe). In 1871 this was 35 Nottingham Road.

In 1972 local historian Peter Smedley Stevenson, using papers of the late Edgar Waterhouse, wrote an article arguing the presence of two Nottingham Road inns at the Gallows Inn bridge — one called the Gallows Inn and the other one called the Crown, later the Horse and Groom. What follows is a simplified summary of the very convoluted history of these two premises as outlined by Peter.

If you look at William Gauntley’s Enclosure Award Map of 1798, at the bridge where the Nottingham Road crosses the Erewash Canal, you will see an area of land called Bridge Meadow or Close on the north side of  the road. The canal divides it into two unequal parts so that it lies on either side of that canal. It was bought by Ilkeston farmer and maltser John Hunt in 1756, and about 1760 he built a house, maltrooms, stable and dovecote on the land — the premises were soon converted into an inn. (In a document, dated 1774, the name of the inn was recorded as ‘the Crown‘. By 1775 the inn, still owned by Thomas Hunt, had Henry Greasley as landlord but by 1776, Henry had moved in at the Nag’s Head.)

Already quite an extensive land owner, at the time of the 1756 purchase, John Hunt bought other crofts in the same area, on both sides of the road and both sides of the canal. However he had little time to enjoy his new inn and the business there — he died in January 1763, leaving this property to his younger son Thomas. (His elder son William was bequeathed the sum of one shilling).

Two years later, in December 1765, on another inherited close on the south side of Nottingham Road (called Gallows or Ilkeston Bridge Close), Thomas Hunt sold a newly erected ‘house with parlour, two rooms over, kitchen, malthouse and little garden’ to his elder brother William, who was then living at Ockbrook. Apparently William had built these premises ‘at his own expense’ though it was on land that his brother had inherited from his father; consequently William paid only £3 for it. And this was quite a profitable transaction for William, because just over two years later he sold it back to his brother Thomas for £50 !!

Note that we now have two malthouses and/or inns mentioned in this area …. one on either side of Nottingham Road, and almost facing each other. And both now owned by Thomas Hunt who, by this time, had moved to Derby where he was trading as ‘a hardware man’.

June 22nd 1782  A House to Lett.  At Ilkeston in the County of Derby. Belonging to Henry Lees of the same place. A very genteel house, three rooms on a floor, known by the sign of the Horse and Groom (with several brewing vessels and other materials to be sold) to be entered upon immediately if the said parties can agree upon terms. N.B. It is a very good accustomed house, plenty of good water at the door, and in a very pleasant situation of the town. (Nottingham Journal)

How exactly this fits into the account of Peter Stevenson I am unsure.

In 1789 and still living at Derby, Thomas Hunt sold his Ilkeston property to the two sons of his elder brother William. They were Thomas (jnr) and John, both also living in Derby, though by 1795 the whole property had been concentrated into the hands of Thomas (jnr).

At the Parliamentary Enclosure of Ilkeston of 1794-1798, much property changed hands and this applied also to that of Thomas (jnr). He gave up some his freehold property in exchange for several parcels of land, mostly on the south side of the Nottingham road. On the north side of the road, at the inn built by John Hunt about 1760, William Gauntley’s Enclosure map of 1798 shows that it was now occupied by Francis Elliott.

In the Nottingham Journal of February 19th 1803, the Horse and Groom Inn is mentioned in an advert … its landlord being “John Lowe” — the first (?) use of that name ?

Thomas Hunt (jnr) died in January 1812 and a year later his properties were purchased by Ilkeston innkeeper John Lowe — this is most probably either the landlord mentioned in the advert or his son, John junior. The purchased properties included the inn on the south side of the road, then called the Gallows Inn, as well a the one on the north side of the road, though no name was included.

John Lowe died on March 16th 1837, aged 56. A life interest in some property was left to his elder brother, Christopher, and after the latter’s death it was to pass to his grandnephew John Moss.   The inn on the north side of the road, now definately referred to as the Horse and Groom, was occupied at that time by Edward Severn; it was left to Christopher’s oldest surviving son, John Lowe (jnr). Houses and land on the south side of the road, including the old Gallows Inn, were left to another of Christopher’s sons, William Drury Lowe. Richard Lowe, the remaining son of Christopher, was also bequeathed land.

Christopher Lowe died on June 4th 1845, aged 66. Thus his brother’s property passed to John Moss, now aged 21.

In 1854 John Moss sold his property to victualler Mark Attenborough. The latter died on May 1st 1859, aged 70, and much of his Nottingham Road property — including the Gallows Inn — then passed to his eldest son Isaac Attenborough and Mark’s son-in-law Joseph Carrier, along with other family members.

To summarise:
John Hunt built the ‘Crown Inn’ on the north side of Nottingham Road about 1760.
About 1765, John’s son William built the ‘Gallows Inn’ on the other side of the road. It was still functioning in 1859 (argues Peter, although there appears no mention of it in trade directories before that date).
By 1795 both properties were owned by John’s other son, Thomas, and later by his nephew Thomas (jnr)
With the death of Thomas Hunt (jnr) the ‘Gallows Inn’ was passed on to bachelor John Lowe in 1813 and, with his death, to other family members. The ‘Horse and Groom’ was left to John Lowe’s nephew, also called John, while the ‘Gallows Inn’ was left to another nephew, William Drury Lowe.
In 1854 John Moss sold the ‘Gallows Inn’ to Mark Attenborough and at Mark’s death in 1859, was passed to his son Isaac.
On the 1881 O.S. map only the ‘Horse and Groom’ is shown, and Peter Stevenson‘s account is less detailed about the occupation of the latter inn.


In 1852 Edwin Riley, eldest surviving child of Bath Street butcher Thomas and Hannah (nee Walker) was landlord this inn.
In that year the Derby Mercury reported that despite the attention of several ‘medical gentlemen’ Edwin had suffered illness for several years. Then on August 5th Edwin ‘vomited a snake eight or nine inches long, since which time he has been considerably better, and is in hopes of recovering’.
Was this a tapeworm perhaps?
The Staffordshire Advertiser reported that Edwin’s unqualified medical adviser — perhaps flushed with his initial success?? — gave his patient a second strong emetic, ‘being of the opinion that he would part with another snake’. This however proved too much for Edwin and he burst a blood vessel.
He died on August 10th.
‘It is said the medical man will be prosecuted for practising without a qualification, which in Ilkeston and neighbourhood, is done to a great extent’.


Just after this the inn was occupied by the family of victualler Mark Attenborough.
In 1861 William Attenborough, son of Mark and Alice (nee Mitchell) and older brother of Tommy, was the landlord.
He lived there with his wife Louisa (nee Shaw) and her illegitimate daughter, Sarah Ann.
Louisa was the daughter of Burr Lane coalminer Henry and Ann (nee Beardsley) and had married William in October 1851.
She died at Gallows Inn in October 1862, ‘after a long and severe illness’.

At the time of Ilkeston Wakes in 1864 William organised ‘Ilkeston Races’, held in a field adjoining his inn.
This ‘meeting’ included a series of donkey and pony races, attracting an audience of over 8000 spectators on a Tuesday afternoon. The pony entrants included Gentle Annie, Polly, Snowdrop, Gratitude, Blair Athol, Kiss-Me-Quick, The Marquis, Cape Flyaway, Flying Anthony and My Mary.
Neddy won the Donkey race.
“One pony (name withheld) ran away and jumped upon a fish stall, injuring the rider and smashing the stall, opened the oysters and the mussels gratis”. (NG)
The foot hurdle race was won by John Tilson alias ‘Bellows’.

In the corresponding ‘meeting’ of the following year the result card read as follows….
The Ilkeston Stakes won by Mr. Salter’s ‘Ada’.
The Innkeepers’ Plate won by Mr. Attenborough’s ‘Jenny Lind’, beating ‘Butcher’s Boy’ and ‘Slap Bang’.
The Whip Stakes won by Mr. Bramley’s ‘Metty’.
The Pedestrian ‘Spin’ (footrace) won by Shaw of Eastwood, beating Cockayne of Horsley Woodhouse and home favourite ‘Bellows’ Tilson. Bad luck Bellows !!
During one of the horse races a lad named Carmont from Manchester thought it a good idea to try to cross the course while the horses were galloping by.
A broken thigh was the result of that particular ‘good idea‘.

William Attenborough was still the proprietor of the inn when he married his second wife, Mary Beard of Castle Donington, on March 25th 1863, ….. and still there when their first child, Mary Jane was born, January 18th 1864.
Shortly after, William seems to have moved out of the victualling trade and subsequent sources show him as an artist photographer, sanitary inspector, surveyor, printer and sign writer.
His wife Mary died on February 20th 1873, aged 36, and for the rest of his life William remained with his daughter, even after her marriage, in 1883, to Edwin Orme.
William Attenborough died on May 31st 1894 at 42 South Street, aged 64, and was buried in Stanton Road Cemetery three days later. The Derby Mercury recorded his ‘sporting career’ when he still remained in the shadow of his more ‘talented’ brother Tommy (at least in cricketing terms) …

Thirty or forty years ago, when Ilkeston Rutland Club was in its glory, and had practically an unbeaten record, the brothers Attenborough, William and Thomas, were among the best known members of the team, and on several occasions the last named was selected to play with the All England Eleven. (William) was not usually very successful with the bat, but was a good bowling change, and occasionally made a good innings. He was a left hand batsman and bowler.
The first match of which any record has been kept in which he played was in 1847, against Chilwell, when he scored 17 not out. After this scarcely a match was played by the Rutland Club in which his name does not appear, one of his best scores, 46, being against Loughborough in 1855. Three years later he was included in 22 of Derbyshire against an All England Eleven, and made 10 runs. In 1862, against Sheffield (Hallamshire) he bowled E. Stevenson and W. Slinn, well known cricketers of that day.
Beyond standing umpire, Attenborough has not figured much in the cricket field for the last 25 years, and he died after a protracted illness’ …. just as his first wife, Louisa.

If you wish to contrast this with his brother’s career, you will find the other half here.


In April 1865 the inn was advertised for sale.
And in August 1865 Mr Lupton was in charge.

In October 1867 it was time for Ilkeston’s annual ‘Feast’ and thus time once more for Ilkeston Races at the Horse and Groom.
The police were out in force — fully engaged in the prevention of crime at the Inn. This was a pity for one young girl aged about 16 who was a few miles away, enjoying a ride on a swing boat at the Wakes and sitting by a young woman. As the ride ended, the young girl noticed that her pocket had been picked and the young woman was the obvious culprit. The latter was quickly traced and apprehended. Half a sovereign was found in one of her boots and handed back to its rightful owner. However, as all the Constables were on duty at Gallows Inn, the thief was allowed to go at large again, without punishment.


In 1870 William Whitehead — once a page to Lord Byron — was the landlord of the Inn.
William was born on the Newstead Estate about 1803 and lived there until about the age of 13, in the family home built near the rabbit warren. After Lord Byron came of age in 1809 William became his page boy. He was then apprenticed at Papplewick and later became a (under) game-keeper at Newstead, a position he occupied at the ‘crownation’ of Queen Victoria.
When Newstead Abbey was purchased by Colonel Thomas Wildman in 1818 William remained employed there for another five and a half years.

William left the Horse and Groom about 1876 and died in July of that year at the home of his son Thomas, who was then landlord of the Warren Arms in Stapleford. His recorded age was 73.


Previously a farmer at Locko Grange, Dale Abbey, Thomas Attenborough Beardsley, the illegitimate son of Sarah Beardsley (and Isaac Attenborough?) was the landlord in 1876.
In 1866 he had married Juliana Aldred, second daughter of Queen’s Head victualler Aaron and Maria (nee Potter).
There were three sons …..  Isaac, Arthur and Thomas.
Juliana died quite suddenly at the Horse and Groom, one Sunday morning,  August 27th 1876, ‘of apoplexy’. She was 35 years old.
A few weeks later the Nottinghamshire Guardian was reporting a ‘sensation’ in the Gallows Inn neighbourhood when Emma West died on November 3rd.
The eldest child of Pimlico labourer William and Phoebe (nee Deverill), Emma was a domestic servant at the Horse and Groom, going about her duties when ‘she suddenly fell down upon the floor and expired immediately’.
Emma was 21 and had previously worked for Matthew Fletcher at the Havelock Inn in Stanton Road.

Almost four years later, on June 10th 1880, Thomas Attenborough Beardsley married his second wife, Sarah Jane Keightley, eldest daughter of Nottingham Road coalminer Amos and Sarah (nee Beighton).
Working as a servant at Thomas’s Inn in September 1878 she had given birth to illegitimate daughter Jane Attenborough Keightley.
After the marriage, legitimate daughter Alice Ann Attenborough was born in November 1880.

Victualler Thomas died at the inn, of chronic hepatitis, in June 1882, aged 38.


The Horse and Groom now passed into the hands of John Trueman (lately of the Durham Ox), when it was managed by his son-in-law Owen Bostock.

In the late 1880’s Edward Attenborough, a son of Isaac and Sarah, formerly of the Sir John Warren, took over the inn. When he died there, on August 3rd 1890, the license passed to his wife Sarah Ann (nee Walker) who was there until late 1893. In November of that year and then described as residing at Trowell’s Forge and lately a licensed victualler of the Horse and Groom Inn, she appeared at the Bankruptcy Court in Derby. She then had assets worth £15 and debts of £435 !!  Sarah Ann blamed it on her ill-health and the colliers’ strike which had been prolonged and had hit most of the district very severely. Sarah Ann’s severe financial difficulty meant the licence was transferred to Severn Beer. (And at the same time Severn’s brother William became landlord at the Old Harrow Inn  (William had just left the White Cow, further up Nottingham Road).

On August 3rd, 1894 Isaac Attenborough died and his estate — including the copyhold Horse and Groom Inn and land nearby — was put up for sale. This land included two crofts of pasture land — one adjoining the inn and the other on the other (west) side of the Erewash Canal and so separated from the inn — both then being used by Severn Beer, the Inn’s landlord. There were two cottages at the rear of the Inn, with gardens and out-buildings, occupied by Hannah Lawton (nee Smedley), the widow of labourer Thomas, and her family — also for sale. The Erewash Canal Company paid a yearly rent for use of this land and that, too, was included. Finally, Isaac owned a piece of freehold building land on the south side of Nottingham Road, opposite the Horse and Groom and also for sale. You can pick out these features on the map below … perhaps ?

In February 1896 the licence passed from Severn Beer to Thomas Mycroft.


Gallow’s Inn Close and Shipstone Street

Just to the south-west of the Inn was an area of land known as Gallow’s Inn Close, which had belonged to the Attenborough family for many years. In March 1895 Lydia Attenborough, widow of Isaac (who had died on August 3rd 1894) and her step-son Mark (son of Isaac by his first marriage), sold part of this land to brewer Thomas Shipstone of the Manor House in Edwalton, Nottingham. And as you can see, from the sketch plan below, the outline of Shipstone Street soon followed this sale.

The street was further developed after the land was sold to Ilkeston builder Walter Scott in July 1899. On the 1901 census we can see that three houses had already been built in the street and seven others were being built. (And another ten were planned).


Gallows Inn to Hallam Fields

Having reached the ‘bottom’ of Nottingham Road, we might note that in January 1887 the Surveyor of the Local Board put forward a plan for a road, 36 feet wide, from Gallows Inn to Hallam Fields. One reason for this was to provide work for the unemployed of the parish, but also to provide better access to the sewage farm and to Hallam Fields. And George Crompton of the Stanton Ironworks was very anxious to get the project under way. Estimates of the cost varied from £600 to double that if the road was lighted, sewered, kerbed and asphalted. Eventually, ‘by a large majority‘, it was agreed that the route would be formed of common cinders with a macadamised footpath. Cinders was chosen as the preferred road foundation so that many of the employed could be found work at cinder-breaking at Bennerley.

PS The early months of 1887 were a particularly difficult time for many men seeking work in Ilkeston. Groups of unemployed were taken on temporarily by the Local Board in clearing snow deposited to an average depth of nine inches over the whole district.
And there was a Victorian version of the Food Bank as 50 gallons of soup and pieces of bread were distributed to the poor and unemployed from the Mission Hall in Chapel Street, irrespective of creed.

About eight years later, in October 1895, Harry Cope was trundling his wheelbarrow along the footpath of this road — now known as Corporation Street — when he was stopped and challenged by P.C. McCalman. Young Harry felt he was okay as there was no-one about, so he wasn’t annoying or obstructing anyone. According to the Towns Police Clauses Act of 1847, there had to be “destruction, annoyance or danger” caused by the wheelbarrow. So when it went to court, the magistrates agreed, and the case was dismissed, with a warning to keep off the footpath in future.

The Ironworkers of Ilkeston: 1897

April 10th 1897 (Saturday) was an important date in Hallam Fields’ industrial history. On that date there was a crowded meeting held at the Horse and Groom when an audience composed mainly of workers from the Stanton Ironworks was addressed by an enthusiastic group of trade union officials. The latter had come to the town to advance the cause of organisation among this class of men. Throughout the meeting the speakers were listened to intently, their words often greeted with loud applause. And at the end the Chairman, Councillor Benjamin Gregory, expressed the wish that the good feeling exhibited that night would never be broken.


On our walk back up Nottingham Road we visit the Flints on the east side of the road.