The Cross Keys Inn as seen c.1900, immediately after the two shop fronts on the left, with a signboard above the door.
The exact building that housed the former nos.20-22 Priestgate – The Cross Keys Inn – has been difficult to establish beyond any doubt, due to possible re-numbering of property in the street and the loss of some property at the west end.
The Cross Keys Inn was listed at no.20, and later nos.20-22 in trade directories of 1882 until 1892 at least, which are now numbers on the north side of the street (Did ‘20-22’ mean nos.20, 21 and 22 inclusive?). However the evidence from the 1871, 1881 and 1901 census, and the early 20th century town almanacs, show clearly that it was the third property from the east end, on the south side. It is likely that it had always been this property at the south-east end, and just later re-numbered – possibly when ‘odds and evens’ were introduced. The Hull & Lincolnshire Times of September 1869 reported:
‘DISORDERLY BEER HOUSE - Thomas Picksley (who for ten years has conducted his house without complaint), was charged with permitting drunkenness in his house on Priestgate, Barton. Police Constable Smith stated that he went to the defendant’s house a few evenings ago, and there found a woman named Elizabeth Turner (a well known beggar living in Newport), drunk in the house. He (witness) had to carry her out. Fined 5s and costs.’
The pub latterly (from c.1880) served as a tobacconist’s as well as a beer-house, under John Cook. John kept a much-more orderly house it seems, and the Cross Keys had its own ‘Dividend Society’ during his tenure. The Hull Packet newspaper of 5 January 1883 reported that:
‘The Cross Keys Dividend Society held its annual dinner at the Cross Keys Inn, Barton, on Wednesday, the 19th ult., when a capital repast was placed on the table by host and hostess Cook, covers being laid for 20 guests. On the removal of the cloth Mr Martin presided. The financial statement showed a dividend of £1 0s 6d, after all outgoings and expenses had been met. After the business speeches, songs, and sentiments were the order of the evening, which was pleasantly spent.’
Income for the year 1903 had been £100 12s 7½d, and a dividend of £1 per member was paid leaving £2 9s 7½d in hand. The chairman in that year was George Collingwood; secretary, William Drake; treasurer, George Blood, and the person chosen to visit the sick, John Gilliatt (Hull Daily Mail, 30 December 1903).
The Cross Keys Inn had first been proposed for closure with compensation in 1906, at a time when magistrates nationally were calling for a reduction in licensed premises, finally closing in 1907. Some years earlier there had been no legal requirement for compensation to be paid when pubs were ‘forced’ to close, but the so-called Balfour Act of 1904 – of which this was part – led to an agreement for compensation to be paid to the owners upon closure of their licensed premises. It was the government’s aim to close a third of all licensed premises nationally.
It seems that very few properties in Priestgate have been lost on the odd numbered side, and the building that housed the Cross Keys Inn is extant, now No.5 Priestgate. The building having been nominated for a Civic Society award in 1980 for the high standard of its renovation. The 1901 census confirms the property was here on the south side of the street, and the location was further confirmed with the discovery of an old photograph of the street in a local collection. The Hull Daily Mail ran the following advertisement in May 1907:
‘TO-LET. House and shop, four bedrooms, stabling etc., small ingoing. John Hair, Priestgate, Barton.’
John Hair was the last recorded landlord of the pub, from 1906 until its closure in 1907, when £425 was paid in compensation to the owner, according to the Licensing Committee announcements in January that year.
Some references to the Cross Keys:
1868-1872 – Thomas Picksley, beer retailer, Priestgate
1871 – Thomas Picksley ‘Cross Keys’ innkeeper aged 70 (census)
1876 – Rachel Nicholson, beer retailer, Priestgate
1881 – John Cook, innkeeper, Cross Keys Inn, Priest Gate (census)
1882-1885 – John Cook, beer house & tobacconist, 20-22 Priestgate
1891 – John F Coward bricklayer & publican, aged 38 years (census)
1892-1893 – John Fuller Coward, beer house, 20 Priestgate
1896 – John Balderson Petit, beer retailer, Priestgate
1901 – George Boyce innkeeper, Priestgate (census)
1904 – George Boyes, Cross Keys Inn, Priestgate
1905 – George P Brown, beer retailer, Priestgate
1906 – John Hair, Cross Keys Inn, Priestgate
The site of the former Cross Keys inn as it appeared in 2018, the ground floor frontage having been considerably altered, the two original shuttered windows becoming four smaller windows.
1 Jolly Sailor
2 Whitecross Tavern
3 Cross Keys Inn
4 Blue Bell Inn
5 Volunteer Arms
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