Memories of Coleorton Pubs
From an article published in the Coalville Times by 'Lavengro' on 29.12.1967)
I remember an old resident telling me that, in his earlier years there were three fights regularly each week at The Blacksmith's Arms, when Sally Ward was landlady.
There was also a certain amount of liveliness from time to time at The King's Arms, where the excitement was intensified because the patrons were in the habit of taking with them their blasting powder, which they used to buy from Atkins' powder magazine at Swannington. The Landlord, "Smacker Bakewell" was well able to keep reasonable order. In other words, the fighting was kept within limits.
The most serious incident occurred at The Blacksmith's Arms. Tom Knapp (whose real surname was Smallwood) called there one winter's evening, with his powder tin beneath his arm. He found the whole place in an uproar. Combatants were milling in an almost unrecognisable mass, so many were fighting at the same time. The distraught landlady was yelling for the police, but the police and The Blacksmith's Arms were miles apart and when Tom arrived Sally Ward (landlady) had given up all hope of assistance in quelling the disturbance. In an instant, Tom saw that it was useless to interfere with the combatants. He had the bright idea of throwing his powder tin straight into the fire. This action precipitated a speedy exodus of the combatants from the premises and within seconds Tom was left alone to sympathise with the terrified landlady. Her gratitude took the form of a free pint of ale for Tom, who then confided to her that there had been no danger from the powder-tin, for it was empty.
One can hardly mention Coleorton Pubs without inclusion of The Beaumont Arms, once familiarly known as "Charville's". The fighting here was specially intense on Wake Monday and there was one memorable bout between Jack Richards and a travelling showman, who had a steel hook in replacement of a hand which had been amputated. Jack received some ugly slashes from the hook. The Beaumont Arms had a widespread reputation for the potency of "Tear-coat" - a concoction made and sold by landlord Charville at the wakes and other festivals. I have been told this was a mixture of whiskey, gin, rum, port wine and other ingredients, and that its strength was such that only hardened drinkers could stand more than a mere taste of it. It was claimed that very few who attempted to drink it managed to reach home before the next morning.
Across the road from the small cemetery (St John's) stood a building of considerable size. This was the Bell Hotel and according to information given to me it was once a posting-house of some importance. The hotel was demolished sometime during the latter half of last century and the stables were re-constructed into Bell Cottage.
Footnote: The Blacksmith's Arms once stood on Lower Moor Road, but was demolished some years ago and the bungalow "Greenfields" now stands on the site. The Beaumont Arms has also been demolished, but once stood in the area of what is now Orton Close.
Transcribed by Terry Ward, Coleorton Heritage Group