in rural Nottinghamshire  

The Beehive Inn

The older part of the pub we see today was originally built as a small brick cottage in 1803. At first the ale house was unnamed but between 1815 and 1844 it was known as the Gate Inn. Until 1811 the licence was held by William Wombwell, after that the licence was transferred to William Henfrey and members of the Henfrey family ran the pub until the latter part of the 19th century, when Reuben Whitworth took it over.

Percy Whitworth in WW1 British  Army uniform

‘The biggest landlord with the smallest pub’

Reuben’s son, Percy (in army uniform), who had survived the injuries he sustained on the battlefield in World War One, took over as the licencee in 1923.

Like the previous tenants, Percy had a small holding and kept pigs in a field known as Whitworth’s Orchard (now the grounds of Walnut Cottage). There was a well-worn path across the village green where Percy took the beer slops to feed to his pigs (pictured with slop buckets on a yoke). After the pigs were killed, the hams would hang in the back of the pub and Percy’s breakfast consisted of 11 pieces of fried bread together with great slices of fat bacon. No wonder Percy weighed 23 stone and was affectionately known as the biggest landlord with the smallest pub.
Prcy Whitworth taking the slops to the pigs in buckets hanging from a yoke.
Percy Whitworth in the tap room
During this time, the door into the pub led straight into the small tap room where the beer was drawn straight from the barrels and served to customers in half gallon jugs. Because this room was so small, customers were frequently served in Percy’s living room and had to contend with the smells of his dinner cooking. Despite his size, Percy had no difficulty getting up the wooden step ladder to the two small rooms upstairs where, between the wars, he lived with his wife and four children.In 1963 Percy died aged 72. Although the pub was run briefly by his daughter after his death, it had become sadly dilapidated and was condemned as unfit for human habitation.
Mr and Mrs Hanley, who and were rumoured to have renovated some 23 pubs to date, became the new licensees. The Handleys set about overseeing the renovation whilst living in a caravan in the car park and at this time, the interior was updated, the bar installed and living accommodation for the tenants was built at the back of the pub. When the pub re-opened, keg beer was served to the disappointment of many. During much of the 1970s a variety of licencees came and went with many of them discovering just how difficult it was to make ends meet in a small rural pub. Between 1978 and 1980, the landlord, Geoffrey Pickwell restored the hand pumps and real ale.
Beehive in 1960s
The Beehive as we see it in 2011
After the breakup of the Fitzwilliam Estate in the early 1980s, the pub was bought by a private owner and so saved from closure. It remains largely unchanged since then.

This historical account was researched and published in a book 'Memories for the Millenium' by Rachel Gardner who has lived with her family, in the village for many years.

The book is still available 'Maplebeck- continuity and change' ISBN1-904102-19-0 by © Rachel Gardner.

Posted Oct 2010

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