There has probably been an alehouse or pub on the present site since the 17th century. At one time it was known as ‘The Hare and Hounds’ and at another as ‘The Board’. Soon after 1840, it probably became known locally as the ‘Foresters’ and its present name was certainly well-established by about 1870.
The pub took its present name following the formation in 1837 of the Coverdale Branch of the Foresters’ Friendly Society which came to hold its regular meetings in the long room on the upper floor at the western end of the building. In the 1840s, the ‘Foresters’ was one of three pubs in the village, an indication of the importance of the scale of the traffic then passing through Coverdale along the route from Skipton to Middleham and the north.
The 17th century building
The present pub contains elements of an earlier building of possibly the late 17th century This was probably a single roomed farmhouse, the remains of which, including a blocked up fire window, can be still be seen at the eastern end of the present building: the farmhouse functions today as the snug. The 17th century house owner probably served home brewed ale to passing trade to supplement his farming income.
Developments in the 18th century
By the early 18th century trade in ale may have been so good that the owner found it worthwhile to invest in his business. A bar room was built to the western side of the farmhouse and arrangements made to provide sleeping and stabling facilities. The current bar with its impressive corbelled fire place dates from this time. By the end of the 18th century, continuing good profits probably encouraged further investment and development of the inns in Carlton. The owner of the old Moorcock Inn, the other historic inn in the village, seems to have decided to rebuild an older pre-existing inn. Perhaps in response and to further distinguish his business, the owner of the Foresters’ probably rebuilt the old stables and barn to the west of the bar, and he may have entirely replaced the roof. A new building with its gable end to the road was later constructed at the west end. It was on the first floor of this building that a ‘Long Room ‘, which functioned as an Assembly room or village hall, was created.
The inn must have been transformed by these building works and it probably looked then (round about 1800) much as it does today. The inn was now a tidy stone building under one roof with the western gabled building as a neat addition.
It is not known who financed the building work. It may have been Roger Dawson of Middleham who owned the pub in the 18th century or possibly William Walls who bought it in 1797. If it was Walls he may have over- extended his financial investment since by 1818 he had to borrow money. He later sold the pub but retained the license. Mr Wall’s Long Room, as it was named, had many different uses. In 1817 John Bowe (who became a Primitive Methodist preacher) recorded his conversion to Methodism after being inspired by a Methodist meeting held in the Long Room. In 1863 Henry Constantine recorded the use of the Long Room for a dance in celebration of the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra. In the 1940s the Long room was used for the wedding reception of the daughter of the licensee. Throughout much of the 19th and well into the 20th centuries it almost certainly was used for the monthly meetings of the Friendly Society.
The 20th century
The building remained unchanged until the 1980s when the owners created a door in the NW corner of the bar to allow access to the former store rooms. The room nearer the bar became a family sitting room and an occasional tea room. A little later the other storeroom to the west became a pool and games room. The old Long Room was converted into bedrooms for guests.
In 1990 a different owner reorganised and refurbished the building. The exterior of the building was transformed by constructing a porch over the main door. Inside, the pool room and tea room became a restaurant and another new door, immediately to the left of the entrance into the bar, allowed easy access to the ‘old house’ which became a back bar or snug.
The 21st century
In 2011 the Forester’s Arms was bought by the local community. It is now run as a Community Co-operative.
Further information about the Foresters’ Arms is available from Yorkshire Vernacular Buildings Study Group Report 1761 and Yorkshire Buildings no38 2010.
Isobel Jenkins 2018
Licensees of “The Foresters “
The earliest recorded ale house keeper of the inn now called “The Foresters’ Arms” was Edward Wright who held the license from 1775 until 1779. Following this, it was most likely members of the Clough family who ran the pub until William Walls bought it from Roger Dawson of Middleham in 1797.
The Walls family had an association with the pub that lasted for the next 125 years - sometimes as owners but always as landlords. William Walls senior, who probably organised the construction of the famous “Long Room,” was succeeded by his son William in 1839.
William Walls junior, born in 1808, married Ann Coates the daughter and granddaughter of local ale house keepers. William was a Forester so it may have been his decision to give the pub its current name. The Long Room was used as the court room for meetings and William and Ann were regarded as successful hosts. A report of the 1862 Foresters’ Walk recorded -
“About 80 foresters assembled in the Court-Room at Brother William Walls’, Foresters’ Arms Inn, in Carlton.”
After a procession and service in the chapel - “the members and friends (above 100) dined together in the court-room, where the host and hostess provided a well-cooked and substantial meal.” Following another procession through the village “they spent an enjoyable evening in the court-room.” The members left at 9 p.m. after singing the National Anthem.
When William Walls died in 1892 his son Joseph took over as licensee. Joe was assisted by his sister Isabella and in due course their niece Lily joined the team. The 1911 Census recorded them at The Foresters’ Arms with 74 year old Joe described as the innkeeper. When Joe died in 1913 his probate document stated that he had died at “the said inn.”
From right to left: Richard, Alfred, James, Joseph (landlord), niece Lily, and Isabella Walls. Taken around 1910.
After the death of Joe Walls, Samuel Robert Bellamy took over as licensee. He placed an advert in the Leeds Mercury in February 1914, offering a billiard table for sale.
By June 1916 the licensee was Thomas Hancock. He too had something to sell but this time it was livestock - a cross-Airedale bloodhound dog. Later that year the license transferred to Thomas’ father, William Waggett Hancock.
In 1924 the Walls family sold the pub to Theakstons and George Binks took over as landlord. George and his wife Annie were a popular couple with Annie famous for her ham and egg breakfasts. They continued to welcome members of the Order of Foresters to the pub with the business of the Court still conducted in the Long Room.
George Binks retired in 1951 and James Corps took over the license. When Jim’s daughter married in 1956 the happy young couple held their wedding reception in the Long Room. Jim and Annie Corps left the Foresters in 1960.