JACKO the monkey lived behind the Half Moon pub in Barton, which is now the only pub in the village, but until recently there was a second: the King William IV.

In fact, King William IV has more pubs named after him than any other monarch because, by an accident of history, as the pub in Barton shows, he became a hero for beer drinkers.


The Northern Echo: SIGN OF THE TIMES: From The King William IV at Weston-super-Mare

Memories’ groaning Christmas sack from Santa contained a book entitled Time, Please! Lost Inns, Pubs and Alehouses of the Yorkshire Dales by David S Johnson, and was published by the North Craven Heritage Trust in 2019, and it tells how in the late 1820s, when the Duke of Wellington headed a deeply unpopular government, a series of measures, culminating in the 1830 Beerhouse Act, liberalised the brewing industry.

The government’s reasoning was to promote competition among brewers to bring down the price of ale so that people would not be tempted by stronger spirits like gin which were doing much harm to health.

Cynics might also say that the unpopular government wanted to curry favour with the drinking public by making beer cheaper.

The new Act said anyone could brew beer, even in their own home, as long as they paid two guineas – £2.10 – for a licence. The one term of this licence was that the brewers should place a board outside their home with their name on it.

New beerhouses sprung up all over the place, many of them called The Board Inn, because of the board with brewer's name on it, but the Act came into effect just as William IV came to the throne on June 26, 1830. The new king became immediately popular among drinkers who named their new beerhouses after him – and so to this day, no monarch has more pubs named after them than William IV (below).

The Northern Echo: King William IV - no British monarch has more pubs named after him

Within a decade 45,000 new brewers had been granted licences and there was an explosion of beerhouse opening – and, of course, of drunkenness.

The Northern Echo: The King William IV in Barton in 2009

The King William in Barton (above) fits this pattern perfectly. It was built around 1760 as a farmhouse but it seems to have become a King William IV beerhouse at the start of his reign when a new toll road was being built outside its front door. The road ran from Scotch Corner, through Barton and Stapleton and over a new bridge at Blackwell into Darlington.

The foundation stone for the bridge was laid on June 5, 1832, by solicitor Francis Mewburn, and the road was opened the following year, with travellers being refreshed by the new Barton brewer who had re-named his farmhouse after the new king.

The Northern Echo: The King William IV pub in Barton, in 2009. It closed in 2015 and is now a private house

The King William IV pub in Barton, in 2009. It closed in 2015 and is now a private house

The Northern Echo: Echo memories - The distinctive silhouette of Blackwell Hill's chimneys can be seen on the treeline in the middle of this 1961 picture. Blackwell Bridge is on the rigght. The picture was taken when the Stapleton road was being prepared to join a

Blackwell Bridge being prepared in 1961 for the arrival of the A66(M) which replaced the old turnpike road as the main London road into Darlington

TWO quick facts: because of the unstable nature of the riverbed of the Tees, the pillars for the bridge were laid on bags of wool which somehow ensured a stable footing. This was a common method of construction of the day, devised to carry a bridge over the Thames by one of the greatest mathematical minds of the 18th Century: William Emerson of Hurworth.

And, secondly, at 64, King William IV was the oldest monarch ever to accede to the throne until King Charles III, at 73, took that honour from him only last year.