An 1811 Derby Mercury asserts one of three earliest Huthwaite public house, by announcing a property auction to be hosted; At the house of Mr. Samuel Butterworth, known by the Sign of the Gate, in Hucknall-under-Huthwaite.
When these premises stood facing a windmill, they'd mark east extremity of a rural Hucknall-under-Huthwaite hamlet on highest point the main highway. Originally addressing The Gate can therefore describe entry into the adjacent parish village and future town of Sutton-in-Ashfield.
Gazetteers confirm John Butterworth extends family name into 1828. But the renaming comes soon after handing property keys over for longer term keep by the next family,firstly headed by a senior Samuel Bower. An 1830 directory identifies The Gate under Samuel Bower, until his second 1832 trade entry lists him as victualler having effectively renamed a Portland Arms Inn.
Choice of Inn name was doubtless aimed to show allegiance to an influential fifth Duke of Portland. Hereditary title carried highest ruling power handed a Lord of the Mansfield Manor covering court affairs and land developments. The district should be historically thankful for also next having a sixth Duke, who's portrait featured on last pub sign. From 1858 to 1943, he continued dutifully demonstrating highest professionalism aiding more rapid industrial expansion while generously encouraging numerous healthier developments.
Sharing same 1864 year and victualler title with Kesteven surname serving another Inn, can only assume Thomas was employed to manage the Portland Arms. Related members of the Bower family appear to keep ownership throughout, finding a Mrs Bower leading in the 20th century, as a prospering mining village then extended boundary housing along a modern named Sutton Road.
Magnificent view above of the original privately owned frontage can be roughly dated from the laid tramlines. Conveyance papers have furthermore added Emlyn Bower to the list of licensed victuallers, notably dating the photo when she sold off the Portland Arms. Vested interest was shared by a Huthwaite builder worthy of just noting a named Edwin Howard Lowe. Emlyn next bought a plot of land during development into Lime Avenue on which to build a quiet home. Like many self sufficient landowners she claimed farmers title, so seemed to profit comfortably from September 1909 sale of her inherited public house set inside sizeable grounds.
James Shipstone & Sons Ltd of the Star Brewery, Basford, recognises an enterprising corporate buyout. That Shipstones Ales company presented a long familiar make over, featuring a typically fashionable mock Tudor facade. Two very similar postcards can offer comparison of how the Sutton Road premises would have looked throughout the 1920s, dated from the Lyric Picture House.
Sale had included rear sloping grounds measuring 3rood and 12perch, or just short an acre. Upon it stood two small cottages plus outbuildings, and even a modestly sized apple orchard. Sections of those past farming related buildings can be seen in rare views along Newkin Lane. Demolition of some top corner property would widen that New Kiln cart track fully presenting Skegby Road.
The Coleman family front their adjacent corner shop, inadvertently showing side wall beneath the prominent pub sign identifying a known 1941 landlord George Archie Reeve. Managing to further expose outbuildings - still stood behind 1950s open air seating aside an off license entrance door - gratefully comes from Ian Else sharing photos of grandparents upon top corner Skegby Road.
Mark Fittall suggests 1967-1970 when parents Reg and Doreen ran the Portland, long before he and a brother Robert individually moved abroad. Several other surnames will surely be associated once being tenants, through varying lengths of years and local appeal. Most local drinkers considered Shipo's ales to be an acquired taste, simply because the Portland was that breweries only Huthwaite public house, and locally far outnumbered by regular accustomed choice between either Mansfield or Home Ales pubs. Whit walks pass changing colour schemes which gave some indication of later alterations attracting far greater popularity.
Discovering a newly installed pool table squeezed into front right room coaxed occasional late 1970s visits. But the old layout with a long outdated drab interior didn't really encourage younger generations. A full 1980s revamp was therefore way overdue.
Rooms either side a central bar were opened up, allowing pool players a little more elbow room in an enlarged tap side games room. Entire left side afforded far greater comfortable appeal, with a small staged area introducing some live entertainment.
This pubs broadened popularity suddenly peaked, mainly due highly successful management by Mick & Marilyn. Addition of a fully equipped kitchen recognised one of the first Huthwaite pubs daily serving home made quality meals. Nonetheless, organising team sports on a rear car park, plus fullest variety of competitive pub games could easily be recalled by the many young men able and eager to regularly afford custom.
The Portland Arms may be most widely remembered for entertaining weekend disco nights. In its heyday that actually managed to draw tightly packed custom from further afield. Visitors spent earlier hours here before heading onward into larger town night clubs.
Subsequent tenants may well have marked enthusiastic terms of relatively shorter popularity. Difficulty keeping appreciative patrons through 1990s widespread demise of an entire pub trade was reflected among mergers plus closures between established Nottinghamshire breweries. Details of corporate changeovers were never fully disclosed to a general public, so simply noting newly coloured signboards seemed to advertise a redecorated interior being updated by the known Star Brewery. Loss of the Shipstone brand name once proudly and prominently displayed would question who last owned this licensed premises. A discreetly placed single rear wall sign claimed The Portland Arms was a Banks's Free House. But restricted advertising had similarly affected all other brewery branded pubs.
Thereafter, it gradually gained final reputation from more exclusive use by a small army of Country and Western music lovers, apparently encouraged by one landlords keen personal group involvement.
Huthwaite cowboy Spadge Southerington would likely have been influential initially adding The Portland Arms into a regular circuit of clubs hosting their favoured American Wild West styled artists. Occasional fast draw shootouts had begun offering alternative entertainment. They never did manage to impress another well known character. Lifelong Rag and Bone man Tony Sneep proudly claimed "Thiz all them cowboys an only me gorra hoss."
Mutual music lovers also recognised inclusion of a devoted group staging historically based American Civil War re-enactments. When neighbours kept sighting caravans and campers upon rear car park, they could only speculate the premises had turned into some kind of old Western themed Club House.
Lacking regular custom was acceptable reason sadly seeing closures. Rumours of a quick sale were a little surprising. But folk really felt deeply shocked when so soon after unexpectedly witnessing 2000 demolition of such an historic Huthwaite landmark.
Rapid site clearance fully exposed an expansive plot of land awaiting redevelopment. Construction of 2002 housing introduced a Park Gardens address off Skegby Road. Work was finalised by lastly building the top corner property sited directly over the pub.
The Portland Arms name managed to serve Huthwaite about 168 years. Acknowledging continuous use as a public house sets far higher historic record easily recognising the longest run licensed premises spanning at least a known 189 years.
A nearby bus stop kept ticket reference awhile as the Portland stop. That now fronts a 2013 Sutton Road, Brierley Park Medical Centre. Upon death of the ninth Duke of Portland, title became extinct in 1990. Huthwaite has reclaimed some historic reference, when another 2012 housing development chose addressing given Portland Heights, atop Strawberry Bank off Chesterfield Road.
Pub sign quite artistically portraying William John Arthur Charles James Cavendish-Bentinck, VI Duke of Portland, is said to have been shipped abroad by an American. Mr Bernd Frost sent these photos confirming he lastly purchased this find. It now proudly hangs on his home barn located in Portland, Canada. Very nice to see a piece of Huthwaite history sharing international interest.