12th to 20th Centuries
Mining for coal on Tan Hill dates from at least the 12th Century A.D. and possibly earlier. The coal was a poor quality crow coal which gave off a lot of soot when burnt. It was not suitable for the steam engines that were to arrive in the Industrial Revolution – the superior coal from the County Durham pits was used instead to fuel the trains on the Stockton and Darlington Railway. The crow coal was used to fuel the lime kilns of Arkengarthdale – an environmental disaster, not just because of the pollution but also due to the kilns using wood, stripping Swaledale of the trees that grew in the more sheltered areas. Mixed with peat, this crow coal can be banked up over night and after a bit of poking in the morning can be rekindled. The seams were only four feet (120cm) thick but the mines under Tan Hill were extensive, justifying the need for a pub there. Horses would line up with their carts waiting to be loaded with coal for Reeth and Swaledale while the miners would sing and get drunk in the pub The inn was not on it’s own all the time. Miners’ cottages stood near the inn until they were demolished with the closure of the mines in the early 20th Century.
William Camden in his guide book, ‘Britannia’ notes a solitary inn. The current inn dates from the 17th Century.
In 1085, when William the Conqueror’s surveyors where compiling the Doomsday Book, they wrote the area above Reeth off as “wasteland”. Records of Tan Hill’s early days are sketchy at best although mining for coal had started by the 12th Century. It is possible that the Romans mined coal during their occupation of England and Wales in the first four centuries A.D.
Susan Peacock’s Legacy: Born in West Witton in Wensleydale, Susan Peacock worked in various domestic jobs before marrying Richard Parrington of the Cat Hole Inn in Keld. The couple took over the Tan Hill Inn in 1903 which by then was in a bad state of repair. They made a success of the inn despite the waning mining industry. Richard Parrington died, leaving Susan to bring up her three daughters, Olive, Edna and Maggie. She married Michael Peacock, an Arkengarthdale native and owner of one of the Tan Hill pits, acquiring the Peacock name which is familiar to all those who come to Tan Hill. The wireless became a novelty at the inn in 1930 and Susan Peacock would often take part in radio broadcasts, telling people of the quiet life. This led to hundreds of people visiting the inn out of curiosity.
During the First World War, pub opening was restricted to lunchtimes and evenings only to stop people from getting drunk during the war effort. These laws will change little for the next seventy years.
The Tan Hill miners worked during the General Strike of 1926, opting to do so because their wages were marginal, but it was not long before they lost their jobs, improved roads enabling better coal to be brought into Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.
Closure of the last mine on Tan Hill, starting a quiet period for the inn which was able to remain open thanks to local farmers and the development of the motor car.
Tan Hill hosts it’s first Sheep Show under the landlordship of Lew Hamilton. Sheep Fairs were popular in Swaledale before then before falling victim to the Depression of the 1930’s. The Tan Hill Sheep Show revived that tradition, held on the last Thursday of every May, since it’s inauguration. The same year, Robert Clough, a historian spoke to Lew Hamilton about extending the inn as a tourist centre. Clough wrote that nothing came of it due to the inn’s inaccessibility during the winter.
A new form of customer was brought to the inn with the opening of the Pennine Way, Britain’s first long-distance footpath, a result of vigorous campaigning by ramblers which led to the opening of public rights of way and the establishment of many more long distance footpaths which later included the Coast to Coast path which passes through nearby Keld.
Margaret and Alec Baines purchase Tan Hill Inn for £82,500 at auction.
Relaxation of World War One emergency measures 70 years late! Pubs in England and Wales are allowed all day opening and extra hour on Sundays. Later extended to all day Sundays.
Construction of extension providing the inn with seven new en-suite rooms along with new toilets, pool room and flat.
In 1995, the inn was the first pub to obtain a licence to hold wedding ceremonies under new laws that allow people to marry in places other than a church or registry office. Tan Hill Inn no longer retains it’s licence to host weddings but still hosts many Stag, Hen and reception parties.
Embracing new technology, Tan Hill Inn was launched onto the World Wide Web where it is hoped to attract interest and custom in the same way as Susan Peacock’s early wireless broadcasts.
Our website wins a Silver Award for best pub website.
The year was however marred by a major outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease which affects most livestock (but not humans except in extreme cases) and forced the cancellation of the Tan Hill Sheep Show. Loss of trade resulted from footpath closures designed to curb spread of this high infectious disease.
Resumption of the Tan Hill Sheep Show. Continuing restrictions from the Foot and Mouth outbreak forced cancellation of the 2002 show.
Landlords Margaret and Alex Baines finally hang up their Bar Towels after 20 years service at Tan Hill. The new owners Mike and Louise are looking forward to the challenge of running this unique and very special place. Tan Hill Inn’s unique place in the United Kingdom and in history should hopefully guarantee it’s future at a time when many rural pubs are facing closure. It’s fame has led to the Inn featuring in a couple of television adverts, one for double glazing and the other for mobile telephones. The Inn has been visited by several celebrities of the day and created a few personalities itself. Join us up the hill and soak up some of the history for yourself.
Renovation and refurbishment undertaken.
Everest broadcast their new 2008 advert – featuring their installation of new double-glazing and solar panels at the Inn. The Inn looks absolutely splendid with it’s new roof and re-pointing.
Revellers celebrating New Year’s Eve at the pub on 31 December 2009 were unable to leave the pub for three days as they were snowed in.