The junction at Aldcliffe Road, King and Thurnham Streets is a prominent point coming into Lancaster city centre and in the Toll House Inn, Terry Ainsworth looks back at the early history of the landmark’s inns and Scotforth FC at the time.
When teams like Scotforth, Galgate, and Garstang, who were members of the Lancaster & District League, journeyed to Lancaster from the south in 1899 they would have had to pay a toll at the Corporation Toll House which could be found at the junction of Aldcliffe Road and King Street.
There is record of a White Cross Inn on or near this site prior to 1820; it was a coaching station in the days prior to the railway and was one of three public houses owned by the Corporation: The Corporation Arms, immediately next door on Penny Street, which also housed the Toll House and the Prince William Henry directly opposite on Penny Street.
All three were demolished and rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century and, while the White Cross retained its name, the Corporation Arms became the Farmers Arms and the Prince William Henry became the Corporation Arms.
In 1901 Thurnham Street, which was a cul-de-sac, was opened up and continued through Prince William Henry Field, previously used as a Fair Ground.
During the 1960s the White Cross and Farmers Arms were converted into a single large public house and hotel under the Farmers Arms name. This closed in 2006 and thereafter the building underwent major refurbishment and reopened in 2007 as the Penny Street Bridge.
The Penny Street Bridge Hotel in 2015 stood on the site of the former Corporation Toll House. In 2007 it was completely transformed into one hotel with a £2m refurbishment programme by Daniel Thwaites Brewery. Today it’s a vast, airy building with 28 bedrooms, bar, brasserie, courtyard, period features and a haven for business and pleasure in the heart of Lancaster.
But from December 4 last year, it was re-born as The Toll House Inn as it was in 1901, following a £200,000 redevelopment.
In the Lancaster Guardian of April 13, 1951, there was a report about the founding of Scotforth Football Club in 1887 by three Bretherton brothers, Joe, William and Robert.
Two other members of the team, Nixon, a railway clerk, and Parker gained distinction as sprinters and became North West champions.
Robert Bretherton served his apprenticeship as a joiner with Robert Huntington and used to ride to work on a penny-farthing cycle.
All of these players had links with Scotforth village before its rural charm was lost through building expansion.
Centre half, Ted Dearden was an excellent player, who for many years was the superintendent of Williamson Park and Jack Richmond was a northern 100 yards champion sprinter.
A field on the top of Hala Carr, just above the present housing estate, was the home pitch and there was no dressing room so the players changed under the nearest wall or hedge and got on with the game.
Travellers, including football teams, entering Lancaster from the south will, I’m sure, be impressed by this splendid building that has been tastefully restored by Daniel Thwaites Brewery and will be happy that they do not have to pay a toll to enter the city as they would have done 115 years ago.