The last few years have seen a huge rise in the weekly number of national pub closures. In 2009 it was as many as 52 pubs per week, and despite some reports this year indicating that this figure has actually halved, many publicans continue to look for ways to diversify in order to keep afloat. Indeed most of you would be forgiven for thinking that Pubs that find themselves needing to diversify are relatively new phenomena. In fact, I would have thought the same were it not for an email that we recieved last year…
Sharon Marshall wrote asking for some help in tracing her relatives, as she was Canadian and she believed that her great grandfather was born in the Angel Inn. She then mentioned that she intended to visit the UK this year in March. We wrote back and offered Sharon the chance to come and stay in the home of her ‘forefathers’ and that we would be delighted to offer her some of the Yorkshire hospitality that no doubt her great great grandfather would have been proud to offer.
So in March I picked up Sharon and her friend Carolyn from Skipton Station and brought them back to Hetton. It was a magical experience and I was very proud to help facilitate such a moving and emotive visit. After we had acquainted ourselves Sharon showed me a file that she had produced especially for us with all the information on her great grandfather.
It turns out that great great grandfather William Anderson and wife Sarah lived in the Angel Inn at Hetton and are listed on the 1851 census as Innkeepers and farmers with 16 acres. They had eleven children and most of them where born at the Angel Inn. Sharon’s great grandfather George was born in the Angel and outlived all of his siblings, only three of them lived beyond the age of twelve, which bears testimony to the harsh living conditions back them. Having been brought up above the Angel from the age of 12 I myself remember how uncondusive to family life it was to live above a pub, but it was obviously nothing compared to the conditions endured in the late 1800s!
Sharon had been in touch with Derek Wrathall of the Wharfedale Family History Group and we arranged to meet Derek at Rylstone Parish Church where most of the Anderson family are listed as being buried.
By the time Sharon and Carloyn had spent their whirlwind twenty four hours with us, I had inherited two newly adopted Canadian Aunties, and Sharon and I had both been interviewed live on air by BBC Radio York.