A historic pub interior of national importance
Listed Status: II*22 Hengate
Something of a Yorkshire institution, ‘Nellie’s’ is one of the ‘must-see’ highlights of an old county town that itself abounds with historic interest. A vernacular gem, it has evolved into a warren of varied and distinctive rooms, still with gas lighting and warmed in winter by blazing fires in the old hearths. It takes its popular nickname from Nellie Collinson, who ruled as its redoubtable landlady from 1952 to 1975 (and whose family's tenure of the pub went back to 1892).
Current owners, Samuel Smith’s brewery, took over in 1976 and they have treated their precious acquisition with some respect. Their work of upgrading the pub however, particularly their introduction of a bar-servery (where Nellie had made do with a simple table and pulled beer from two handpumps against a wall!) changed the character of the 'Men's Bar' which had been its time-warp heart. Also a new - some would say, over-wide – opening was created through to the front parlour, and a sizeable modern extension built. Among many positives, though, the old semi-private kitchen was brought into regular pub use and the gloriously old-fashioned front snug, second parlour and entrance corridors from Hengate have been left largely untouched.
Something of a Yorkshire institution, ‘Nellie’s’ is one of the ‘must-see’ highlights of an old county town that itself abounds with historic interest. A vernacular gem, it has evolved into a warren of varied and distinctive rooms with uneven floors, still with gas lighting and warmed in winter by blazing fires in the old hearths. It was in the tenure of the Collinson family from 1892 and in 1927 Francis Collinson purchased the pub from the church - there was five unmarried sisters and two brothers involved in running the pub - Miss Nellie Collinson ruled as its redoubtable landlady from 1952 to 1975, hence its popular nickname 'Nellies'.
The main entrance on Hengate has above it a figure of a horse carved in wood and supported on brackets. From the front door the flagstone passage into the pub has tongue and groove walls, a hatch to bar and the original pub sign 'Nellie Collinson Licenced Retailer Spiritous Liquers Wines Spirits Ale Porter & Tobacco to be Consumed on the Premises' - the passage leads to the main bar on the left and on to the toilets at the rear.
The Main Bar has a bare wood floor with old fixed seating all around and the bar counter was only installed with the take-over by the Samuel Smiths Brewery in 1976. Prior to this, sales where dispatched from a table located in the same area. The bar back retains some old wooden shelves. The main fireplace has a Victorian cast-iron interior with colourful tiled paintings but modern stone surround; above is a large old mirror with an ornate wooden surround. Also, near the door to the passage there is also a modern Samuel Smiths bucket-style fireplace with a stone surround and above a small oblong mirror with decorative wood surround. There is an impressive four-lamp gas pulley-controlled chandelier and three other gas lights. The short-cased wall clock in the corner, behind the entrance door is well known for chiming at unusual times, and the wrong amount of chimes! There are four oblong marble top tables with cast iron bases.
A double doorway sized opening where the doors are folded back leads to the Family Room (or Dart Room) with windows overlooking Hengate It has a bare wooden floor, a Victorian cast-iron, tiled and wood surround fireplace with tiled paintings and mirror in ornate surround above, old fixed bench seating, and five gas lights. In the right-hand corner is one of two piano's which is quite often still played (the other being in the function room - upstairs). Only just visible between the door and the fireplace, is an old wine cooling chest.
An ancient door leads to a passage with an uneven tiled floor and two hatches to the back of the servery – the right hand one has lower rising window for service. Opposite the hatch a door leads to the Ex-No Smoking Room (which also faces onto Hengate). This small room directly left of entrance passageway has a quarry tiled floor laid diagonally, a small Victorian tiled, cast-iron fireplace with a row of tiles along the top and a traditional mirror above. To the left of the fireplace is an old piece of furniture (wall stand?) with an ornate mirror surround, wall cupboards, half-height tongue and groove panelling painted brown, three leather covered benches and 3 gas lights.
Cross the entrance passageway and a doorway leads to a small area with uneven flagstone floor that has the nickname of The Office. It has a sewing machine table and two chairs. On the wall is a large, glass-fronted frame enclosing a large selection of receipts and invoices of local business, dating back to the turn of the century.
Sliding Door room (the sliding door is usually already open) has an uneven black and red tiled floor, has a splendid open range which usually has a coal fire burning during colder weather and high mantelshelf. This small room has high backed leatherette cushioned settle seating on two sides. It has just one large round table with a gaslight over the center and a scrubbed one with two drawers that has an alarming slope so watch your beer if you have a full pint! Also, a piece of leather seating in front of the window overlooking Hengate.
Further back is the Scullery with an uneven tiled floor and black-leaded range fireplace and coal scuttle alongside. On the wall opposite is a display of plates, a chest of drawers, two long scrubbed tables.
Beyond the scullery and up four steps is a pool room added in the 1990's with two pool tables, open rafters and new tongue 'n' groove ceiling, open brick fireplace, modern quarry tiled floor and new half pine panelling.
Between the main corridor and the Scullery is the Linen Press room with old quarry tiled floor, a large wooden Press with wooden draws beneath, a mirror in wood surround on the wall and another gas light.
Accessed by a staircase from the main corridor is the Function Room on the first floor which is also lit entirely by eight gas chandeliers and wall-lights. A large room it has a bare wood floor with some carpets on it and a good wood surround and bucket-style fireplace (age?) with a large mirror.above. Adjacent left to the fireplace is an old upright piano. The function room is regularly occupied with jazz bands, folk singers and poets - folk 1st Sun in every month. A folding partition doors separate a small room with a bare wood floor, possibly old wood surround fireplace and small bar area behind.