Northampton's pubs then and now: See if you recognise the town's favourite locals in these vintage photos

Hundreds of Northampton pubs have come and gone over the decades - and some have stayed exactly the same.

Tuesday, 11th June 2019, 5:47 pm

Author Dave Knibb spoke to the Chronicle and Echo this week about his new directory of Northampton's historic pubs - featuring hundreds of classic pictures of the town's favourite watering holes. Here are some of the town's pubs in the old days and how they look today.

The Overstone Arms was granted its license in 1877 and was something of a magnet to groups and societies, including Northampton Trades Council. It was also extended in 1908 when it took over neighbouring pub Cream of the Valley.
The Arms struggled in the post-war years - but it bounced back after it was renamed The Lamplighter in 1988. Today, it is an award-winning pub with a reputation for live music.

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The Rifle Drum has seen several names over the centuries, including The Drums, and The Crown. It only had customer toilets installed for the first time in 1938.
Today, the Rifle Drum looks much the same as it did 100 years ago. It is "the last survivor" of Northampton's small pubs and buying a drink there is to stand in a pub that could be up to 500 years old.
Once known as The Plasterer's Arms, the Black Lion was popular with actors from the Derngate theatre. But it rose to prominence when former Saints Captain Mr Edward Shadrack Dunkley became landlord in 1901 and ran the pub for 44 years.
The pub became a mecca for live bands in the 50s and still hosts bands today, but is now best known for its sports coverage and heated garden.
The Black Lion's formidable landlord 'Teddy' Dunkley is pictured here relaxing in his pub's garden.
The Wig and Pen's popular heated, covered garden.
A true village green pub, the King Billy was set on the corner of The Green in Kingsthorpe. It was well known for using the village green for summer fetes - one such event attracted up to 4,000 people in 1849.
Sadly, the King Billy was sold by owners Enterprise Inns and closed forever in December 2016. There were rumours it would be sold to developers but instead was reportedly bought by a local couple who turned it into a house.
Fish Street is so called because fishmongers were commanded to move their stalls there in 1585 to keep the smell of fish off the market. No one knows how old Fish Inn itself is, and earliest records mention it in 1824.
Today, the Market Tavern is the number one rated pub in Northampton for nightlife in TripAdvisor.
The history of the Garibaldi is rife with suspicious deals and political scandal that drew accusations of profiteering at the time. It was sold in 1898 for 6,000 - which would be 650,000 today.
The Garibaldi Hotel is still with us today, and is a favourite pub on rising Northampton rap star slowthai.
The original Swan Hotel, which could have been as old as the 16th or 17th Century, was demolished and rebuilt in 1883. It was very popular with actors from the Derngate Theatre.
The Swan Hotel was renamed The Mail Coach in the 1970s.
The nationally famous George Hotel was once a centrepiece of royal patronage and had a glowing reputation in the "country reports" across the centuries - but in the end, it shut in 1916 and was demolished by Lloyd's Bank in 1921.
Author Dave Knibb writes: "Lloyd's Bank built a pretty good building to replace the George Hotel... but in my personal opinion, the George Hotel was THE greatest building in Northampton's rich history."
The Racehorse was an ideal stop off for buyers going to market and had a horse "breaking" service. It was also known for its American Bowling Alley - but it was rebuilt without it in the early 20th Century.
The pub struggled for years along with its neighbour The Bantam Cock for a while - but its relaunch as The Black Prince helped to refresh its identity and it is still with us today.
The Hotel first opened in 1883 but was denied a drinks licence - so the owners formed a 'club' where they sold alcohol to customers as they pleased. This 'club' dubbed the hotel The White Elephant because it was such an outsider.
From 1888, the hotel was known forever after as The White Elephant. Contrary to popular myth, the name does not come from an awkward position it faced when the Racecourse closed 1904. Today, it is a town treasure.
Author Dave Knibb says, despite his research, that he cnanot tell for certain if the Old Black Lion is the oldest pub in Northampton, and its story is surrounded in misinformation.The "old" was actually added in 1859.
However, the "oldest pub in Northampton" was listed as permanently closed on WhatPub and Google in late 2018.
The Bantam Cock was the traditional last stop for prisoners for their "last drink" on their way to the Racecourse to be hanged... But the Cock's history is rife with local legend right up to its closure in 2017.
The Bantam Cock, now The Press, has changed ownership several times in recent years. It had a reputation in 2017 for the most violent incidents for a pub in town - but today, it is a reputed restaurant chain.
For more stories behind Northampton's pubs, order a copy of Last Orders from author Dave Knibb by contacting him on [email protected]