Cliffe Inn 1903

The first record of the Cliffe Inn was a directory entry dated 1874 when Reuben Clarke was operating a beerhouse called Cliff House and the building was owned by Robert Brewster a local maltster.  We do not know how it looked but there is a copy of an architects drawing in the Nottingham Records Office showing the rebuild of The Cliffe Inn and that is how it actually looks in the present day.

Following a meeting of the District Brewster Sessions held in August 1878 which was for the purpose of the renewal of licences. a report appeared in The Nottingham Guardian-

The chair ( Mr T Hildyard) called on Reuben Clarke and Sarah Freer (more probably Sarah Fryer of the Royal Oak)  of Radcliffe on Trent to come forward.  In answer to the chair Clarke said he had kept his house for ten years.  Mr Taylor (a local magistrate) replied- I thought it was more.  The chair: I think it was a beerhouse. Clarke replied yes sir.  The Chair added-And I think Mr Cullen (the vicar) wanted to make it into a public  house, to which Clarke replied yes sir. The chair then said -well you have been convicted and therefore your licence will be held over until the next adjourned meeting, a month hence. In summing up it was said –  No doubt you people at Radcliffe have great temptations, some thousands of people flocking there, but other houses are kept respectably.  

The licences in both Clarke’s and Freer’s (Fryer) case would be adjourned.

The reason for the above decision probably related to a court case recorded in the local paper on April 6 1877 when nine young men were charged with refusing to quit the Cliff Hotel at Radcliffe on Trent on April 1, and with obstructing the public highway and with assaulting the Rev H Seymour, vicar of Holme Pierrepont, Mr Edward Pierrepont, son of the American Ambassador to the Court of St James and Mr Swithenbank, private tutor to the Rev Seymour’s family;

The clerk said that nine men standing at the bar were charged with six different offences and four of them were charged with the additional offence of drunkenness.  

The charge of refusing to quit was the first taken and Reuben Clarke was called and said ‘I keep the Cliff Hotel at Radcliffe on Trent. On April 1st  Holbrook, Basford and Clayton came to my house.  There were some others with them there, but I cannot identify them.  They were all in company, I ordered them to quit on account of their conduct, but they refused and turned some tables over at about half past 3 or 4 o’clock.  When they did leave they took away with them a brewer’s licence paper.  I sent for the police, but in the meantime the men left.  They were having drink in my house.  I did not call it fun.  They paid only 8d for the chair, although I demanded 1 shilling.  They had four or five pints of ale between them.  Do not think I enquired whether or not the men were ‘bona fide’ travellers.  I cannot say that I did.  They came from Nottingham. 

I sent my boy for the police, but they stopped him.  They afterwards left my house.

(The case continued)

It would appear that Reuben Clarke was getting ready to leave the pub as a report in the Nottingham Review dated April 9 1879 states that he was hosting an auction sale of various items of furniture associated with a beer house.  The sale was to be held on April 10 at 11.00a.m. Prompt.  The sale was authorised by the High Sheriff of Nottingham so perhaps Mr Clarke had gone bankrupt. 

In August 1879 a Samuel Summers applied for a licence to sell spirits at The Cliffe Inn.  He was turned down at the magistrate session in that year due to a clamp down on unruly behaviour in the village.

In the 1881 census The Cliffe Inn is being run by Frederick Summers who was born in Belper, Derbyshire (probably related to the Samuel Summers, mentioned above) and his wife Annie who came from Surrey.  Their household was completed with a great niece, Eleanor C Judd, a boarder James Jordon who was a rural postman pensioner and a servant girl, Sarah A Hale born in 1868 in Radcliffe.  The pub was now leased by Richard Daft, the local and Nottinghamshire cricketer and brewer but the property was still owned by Robert Brewster and Frederick Summers as the landlord.  Mr Summers applied for a full licence for the Cliff Hotel in late August 1882, and produced a memorial extensively signed by a large number of inhabitants in the village in support of the application.  It was also said that there had been no convictions against Mr Summers. In spite of the support the licence was turned down.

Like the other public houses in the village The Cliffe Inn  was used for inquests.  On 9 July 1880 Henry Wright Morley brother of Ann Summers was killed on the railway line at Radcliffe and the body was identified by her husband Frederick.

Although a number of incidents occurred relating to unruly behaviour in the local pubs, the Cliffe Inn appears to have had fewer than the others.  One is recorded in the local newspaper, The Nottingham Evening Post dated 3 August 1882-

Joseph Baxter was charged with refusing to leave licensed premises,The Cliffe Inn, in Radcliffe on Trent and with assaulting PC Allwood on the 29 May.  Mr Summers said he kept a beerhouse at Radcliffe and on the day named defendant was there neither drunk or sober’.  His conduct was very offensive, and he refused to leave.  Defendant admitted the charge.  Sgt Allwood proved the charge of assault, and there being a long list of previous convictions against defendant he was fined £3.3s, or in default six weeks’ imprisonment with hard labour.

Fred Summers left the village around 1885 when they moved to Grantham where Fred is classed as a beer retailer on 42 London Road in Grantham.

The next landlord was John Buxton who is recorded in 1885 as a blacksmith and publican at the Cliffe Inn and by 1891 he is classed as a beer retailer.  John Buxton was born in 1846 in Radcliffe to John and Judith Buxton.  His father was a harness maker and they lived on Bingham Road. John was one of about ten children. He married Annie Rowell at St Nicholas’s church in Nottingham on 25 July 1874 and  they had five children; two died very young. The family lived on Cropwell Road before moving to the pub. 

However on 20 October 1888 a notice appeared in the  Nottingham Daily Express advertising the sale of the public house –

Sale of The Cliffe Inn, under the will of the late Mr Robert Brewster.  To be sold by  auction by Messrs Morris and Place at the Manvers Arms, Radcliffe on Trent, on Thursday 8 November.

Lot 1-  All that freehold beerhouse known as The Cliffe Inn, situate and fronting to the Nottingham and Grantham turnpike road, Radcliffe on Trent together with outbuildings and appurtenances thereto as now occupied by Mr Buxton.

This lot comprises a house, containing a bar, passage, parlour, kitchen, two sitting rooms, 3 bedrooms, a cellar, yards, brewhouse, workshop and two stables, the whole occupying an area of 569 sq yards or thereabouts and is leased to Mr Richard Daft, for a term of  years, expiring 25 March 1891.

A further report in the local newspaper described the auction and it was noted that there was a large attendance and the freehold beerhouse, known as The Cliffe Inn realised £1000 but was subject to the lease expiring on March 25 1891.

In 1891 a Mr Robinson applied to the local council for permission to create privies and an ash place outside the building.

In September 1892 John Buxton is applying for a wine licence.  In making the application his solicitor stated that Mr Buxton had kept The Cliffe Inn for ten years and in that time there had been no complaints against the house and he submitted that ‘if a man was a fit and proper person to hold a beer licence then he was a suitable man to hold a wine licence’.  In addition it would be a great convenience to visitors who came over from Nottingham, who had frequently to leave the house because they could not be supplied with wine.  Several testimonies were put to the Bench and the licence was granted.

In 1901 John and Annie were still living at The Cliffe Inn together with two daughters, Frances Ellen and Evelyn May, and a boarder Tom Lygo a bricklayer born in Derby. In 1903 Tom Lygo and Frances Ellen Buxton were married.  By the time of the  1911 census  the daughter Evelyn May is still at home and employed as a barmaid. She went on to marry Thomas William Bartram in December 1916 whilst he was serving in the First World War. In 1922 on the electoral roll John and Annie Buxton are still there but in 1924 they had left the village and a report has been found in the Nottingham Guardian dated 30 July 1924 where John and Annie are celebrating their golden wedding.  It stated that John had held the licence of the Cliffe Inn for over 40 years.  They were now enjoying a well earned rest at ‘their beautiful little cottage in Daybrook’.  John died 13 July 1925 at the age of 78 at The Robinson Memorial Home in Daybrook but Ann survived him for a number of years; she died aged 91 on June 19 1944.

In August 1923 a fruit and vegetable show was held at the Cliffe Inn to benefit the Children’s Hospital Cot Fund.  

Next door was located Colliers Tea rooms run by Mrs Lily Collier; it was a tall house with large square bay windows. Many walkers and cyclists were supplied with refreshments here.  It was  demolished in 1971, and now forms part of the pub car park.

Records are rather hazy after the Buxtons, in 1928 J Charles W Malcom is recorded as landlord but by 1937 Samuel Elson is shown as the landlord  living here with his wife Eliza Ann (nee Pierrepont).  He took on the licence trade from 1920 starting with The Cricketers Arms on Alfreton Road in Nottingham before coming to Radcliffe. He moved to Wilford where he died in 1949 .

The next landlord was Sydney V Nixon recorded in 1948 together with his wife Violet Ethel.  Whilst he was the landlord a report appeared in the Nottingham Evening Post 24 August 1944 –

Mr Sydney V Nixon summoned Thomas Daniels of Radcliffe on Trent for assault. Mr Nixon said that because of previous trouble he had barred Daniels from the house a year ago.  On August 5 he forced his way into the Inn and struck Nixon on the jaw, knocking him down.  Daniels admitted the blow, but said it was after Nixon had tried to eject him. Daniels was fined 40 shillings and bound over for 12 months.

Sydney Vincent Nixon died on 23 December 1953 aged 60; his address was given as The Cliffe Inn.

It was during Mr Nixon’s time that the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) was to be found in the Cliffe Inn playing the piano.  A bevy of girls  out from Nottingham had crowded admiringly around him but having no idea who he was.  They asked his name and he simply replied ‘David’, his first real name. The Prince of Wales was a regular visitor to Radcliffe whilst conducting an affair with the daughter of Charles Birkin of Lamcote House.

The Home Brewery  possibly bought the pub during the Buxton’s time as in 1903 they are requesting a rebuild of the pub.  A copy of the architects drawing is held by Nottingham records office and it shows the building much as it is now.  There are no photographs of how the pub would have looked prior to 1903.

In 1949 the Home Brewery Co Ltd required further improvements to the lavatories and these were carried out by H Richmond and Co.  In 1956 Home Brewery were applying to have alterations made to the inside of the pub, creating a central service hatch for both bars and also to allow customers to purchase drinks etc without entering any of the bars (i.e. off-licence facilities). In 1950 Mr Nixon had applied for a licence to sell intoxicating liquor on or off the premises.

The pub had the living quarters at the rear and consisted of a living room, staircase, larder, kitchen and scullery and 5 rooms upstairs plus a bathroom and a basement containing 3 cellars.

By 1954 Edgar and Elsie Barker , photograph above, had moved in together with their daughter Mavis Ellen.  Edgar had been a prisoner of war during the Second World War.  He served with the South Notts Hussars as a Battery Sgt Major and in August 1942 he was reported missing after the Battle of Knightsbridge in North Africa. This battle took place in 1942 as part of the British defence against Rommel’s attack. It was one of the most celebrated acts of bravery in the Royal Artillery’s history and it saw 107th regiment of the SNH virtually wiped out. Edgar was taken prisoner in June 1942 and was incarcerated at Campo 54 in Italy and was then moved to Stalag 357 in Germany.  He returned home to his wife Elsie and daughter Mavis Ellen at 7 Lord Nelson Street in Sneinton in April 1945.

In March 1962 a robbery occurred here and cash and jewellery were taken.  Mr Barker commented that it was ‘obviously well planned, cheeky and laced with a certain amount of luck’.  He stated that they had got away with the day’s takings and about £90 worth of jewellery belonging to his wife. It was the first time in eight years that he had suffered a break in. 

During the Barker’s tenure the pub was noted for their excellent darts teams, male and female and many cups were awarded to the teams.

Darts team in the 1950s

Edgar retired and moved to a house on Sydney Grove.  He died aged 81 on 6 November 1988.

The next licensees were Trevor and Jeanie Krarup who came from the South Notts Hussars pub in Wilford about 1975.

Then in June 14 1988 Alan and Jean Robinson arrived, photograph above, and stayed until 31 May 2006.  Jean introduced hot lunches to the pub whereas before only cobs, sandwiches and crisps were offered. Alan and Jean carried on for a short while with the darts matches but eventually the players transferred to the Manvers Arms. The Robinsons ran a very friendly pub with many regulars, however in 1993 one very unwelcome drinker had appeared at the bar.  In The Nottingham Evening Post dated June 14 1993 Radcliffe was shocked to find that an IRA informer had been living in the village for the past six months and drinking here at The Cliffe. Jean Robinson, the landlady, described it as a very traumatic period for them and the pub. Morris Harkin (alias used by Declan Casey) was a quiet and friendly Irishman who enjoyed a pint of lager.  He was living on Maple Close and was supplied with money by the RUC to help with his new identity. According to a write up in the Daily Mirror Mr Casey was unhappy and missing his family; he told locals that he had found a job in Chicago and was flying out from Heathrow the next day, but in actual fact he was returning to Ireland and to take his chances.

Home Brewery then sold the pub to Bartsch Inns Ltd in 2006 and a complete refurbishment took place.  The  downstairs was opened up and the living accommodation was moved upstairs.  They created a bar area to the right hand side and opened up what had been the lounge bar into a restaurant.  It was a complete transformation  to what had essentially been a traditional village pub attracting the working man who liked a few drinks and a game of darts plus a sing-along around the piano. It also changed its name, it was now The Horse Chestnut.  In 2015 Mel and Richard Seaman bought the lease and changed the name to The Chestnut.  The property was sold again in 2018 to Punch Pubs and it is managed by Arrowmarker Pubs Ltd with the landlord currently being Paul Fletcher (2022).

In 2016 it was proposed to nominate The Chestnut as an Asset of Community Value and this was approved by the Parish Council and Rushcliffe Borough Council and was included on the register produced by Rushcliffe Borough Council but this has now lapsed.