A Phoenix Rises in Duffield

by Maxwell Craven

The Pattenmakers’ Arms in Crown Street, Duffield, closed abruptly when covid broke out in late March 2020 but, after a change of ownership – from pubco to private owner – it is currently in the process of being tactfully refurbished, extended and in some respects transformed.

Mind you, transformations are what this pub does, for it started out as a simple beerhouse under the terms of the Duke of Wellington’s 1830 act, suffered a 15 year hiatus, was re-established, much improved, got a full licence, was rebuilt from the ground up and is now on the brink of a new chapter in its story.

The clue is in the name: pattens were the wooden shoes with wrought iron hoops affixed to their soles which enabled women especially to navigate wet or muddy roads and, in what was once variously called Back Street, or Harp Lane, there were in the 1820s two forges making patten rings, the Johnsons’ and the Lovatts’. By 1849, however, Samuel Lovatt (1787-1859) had also spent two guineas (£2 – 10p) on a beerhouse licence and had diversified, albeit on a minor scale. The street even began to be called Lovatt’s Lane after him.

On his death, his forge was taken over by Thomas Renwick (1817-1881) who seems to have allowed the beerhouse licence to lapse. However, in 1865 the Midland Railway was planning to put a branchline from the main line to Wirksworth, and this would necessitate major works at the top of Lovatt’s Lane where it met King Street: a deep cutting and a short tunnel under the place where the roads met. One result of this was that a beerhouse on the corner of King Street, called The Crown had to be demolished. Another result was that Lovatt’s Lane gradually became known as Crown Street.

The repercussions of this was that its loss provided an opening for a replacement and Thomas Renwick promptly applied for a new beerhouse licence and re-opened shortly afterwards. In 1872 it was first recorded as the Pattenmakers’ Arms (after the heraldry of the Worshipful Company of that name) when it was leased to Stretton’s brewery in Derby, the forge now converted into stabling. In 1897 the lease expired and the pub, now much improved (according to the description in the sales particulars) was put up for sale, being acquired in 1898 by Offiler’s Brewery, who soon applied for a full licence.

In consequence, trade improved and in 1908 Offiler’s replaced the pub on the same site, extending along the street another 80ft. by buying up a row of ancient cottages, of which the pub had once been the end property.

Hence the present brick, stucco and timber pub in high Arts-and-Crafts style came into being, almost certainly the work of Duffield architect Richard Waite (1845-1925). He provided a cleverly contrived sheltered outside staircase to a function room, two cosy bars lit by windows filled with lashings of Art Nouveau stained glass, plenty of polished mahogany and an interior which quickly acquired an agreeable ambience under the supervision of landlord Alf Lambert (1860-1941) who was there from 1905 to 1925.

In the 1960s the Pattenmakers’ Arms became tied to Bass, but after 1989 was owned by a succession of pubcos. Now it is back in locally based private ownership, we can look forward to the retention of a traditional pub atmosphere and facilities combined with a sumptuous new dining facility beyond.

That being so, it would seem that the much predicted decline of the traditional pub has been greatly exaggerated!