A historic pub interior of national importance
Listed Status: II
A unique time warp, lovingly preserved, comprising two simple rooms either side of a tiny village shop. The Birch Hall is an absolute gem of a pub, nestling in an idyllic valley setting which is hard to imagine having an industrial past. Yet, back in the 1860s, Beck Hole rang to the clamour of ironstone mines, furnaces, quarries and railway, and the three-storey, right-hand half of the premises was built (by the pub landlord of the time) as a shop with lodgings above for the influx of workers. The original pub was no more than a single room (essentially the ‘Big Bar’ of today) in the 18th century cottage to the left, and it was not until after the Second World War that a second public room, the ‘Little Bar’, was created from part of the Victorian shop. The present owners are dedicated to keeping the pub unaltered and to preserving its old-fashioned simplicity; indeed, when they took over in 1981 they gladly accepted a condition of sale to do exactly this – imposed by former landlady, Mrs Schofield, whose home it had been for 53 years. (Closed Monday evenings and all day Tuesday in winter).
The Birch Hall Inn is a public house-cum-shop whose interior of old-fashioned simplicity is lovingly preserved by its present-day owners who are dedicated to keeping the pub's 'timewarp' character unaltered. Indeed, when they took over the pub in 1981 they happily accepted a condition of sale to do exactly this - imposed by their predecessor and former landlady, Mrs Schofield whose home it had been for 53 years.
Lying in a steep wooded cleft of the North York Moors below Goathland, by an old stone bridge over a moorland beck, the Birch Hall Inn is a gem of a pub in a gem of a setting - an idyllic, tranquil place which is hard to imagine having an industrial past. Yet back in the 1860s Beckhole rang to the clamour of ironstone mines, smelting furnaces, quarries and the Railway, and the three-storey block which forms the right-hand half of the pub premises was in fact built (by the pub landlord of the time) as a shop with tenements above, to cater for the influx of industrial workers. On the front wall is an oil painting of the view up the Ellerbeck from the stone bridge featuring the falls, Thomason Fosse, which was given to Mrs. Schofield in 1944 by Algernon Newton in gratitude for many happy hours spent there. He was a well known artist and member of the esteemed Royal Academy, who occupied the house, formerly the Lord Nelson in Beck Hole which closed in 1940. There are benches on the front and steps to the steep little garden on the right of the pub with its aviary and good views.
The original pub, essentially the 'Big Bar' of today, was contained in one of the pair of eighteenth-century cottages to the left (with the whitewashed frontages) and is accessed from a passage. This small basic room has a concrete floor, beam and plank ceiling, wall bench seating with long cushions, a fine early 20th century Tudor-shaped stone fireplace with log fire in winter and may be covered by a settle in summer, and a dart board. A piece of the bench seating has been cut out and hinged near a tiny hatch in the wall to enable customers to stand and get served. The room has only three old narrow oblong cast-iron base tables, which came from the Beck Hole Halt waiting room, and near the hatch is a working gas lamp which is handy in the event of a power cut.
It was not until after the Second World War that a second pub room, the 'Little Bar', was formed from part of the shop in the Victorian extension. Essentially a tiny snug, it has three simple benches, a flagstone floor, and one Formica top table with lots of old (1d) pennies inlaid into it. This wood panelled room is painted grey on lower half and bright yellow on the top half, has an aquarium, and lots of nick-nacks on shelves all around the room including some quality items of breweriana.
The tiny village shop in the middle has a floor area of only three flagstones and sells lots of sweets including Sherbet Dabs, Pontefract Cakes and Imps also ice creams and postcards. The sweets are still weighed on an old set of scales which uses a 4oz weight and the label on the sweets has to state the price and also the price for 100g equivalent in order to comply with the law! Open all day in summer, in winter it is only open lunchtimes (not Tue) and evenings (not Mon, Tue).
The pub is home to the Beckhole Quoit Club which plays the traditional game of outdoor quoits.