PLANNING chiefs have given the go-ahead for a major restoration of one of Warrington’s oldest pubs – the reputedly haunted Black Horse in Old Liverpool Road.
The attractive black-and-white half-timbered coaching house, believed to date from 1632, has been closed for some time for public safety reasons.
But owners Hawthorn Leisure believe it can become an important tourist attraction and planners have backed their proposals by granting planning and Listed Building consent for the work.
Structural repairs will be carried out to the timber frame of the West and North facing walls which is in such a poor condition that much of that part of the building has had to be cordoned off because it is dangerous. At first floor level, two beams are in such a condition that they have had to be propped up.
Although the Grade 2 listed building has undergone many alterations over the years, its external appearance retains much of its original character and the proposals aim to protect its features as a heritage asset as well as make it a safe and habitable building.
The Black Horse is reputedly haunted by a “crawling man.” According to local legend, a gatekeeper on the nearby Sankey Canal in 1912, saw a man crawling in the street. But as he approached, the man vanished.
Other local people claim to have seen the crawling man, saying that he was clutching his chest and appeared to be in great pain, but then disappeared.
The story goes that the Black Horse was the scene of the last local skirmish between Roundheads and Cavaliers during the Civil War. A party of Royalists was fleeing the area and called at the pub – which then had stables – demanding horses. The landlord refused and was killed.
Blacksmith Giles Boston, who was in charge of the stables and was a staunch Cromwellian , took on the Royalists with his sword and killed two of them before their leader shot him twice in the chest with his pistol. The Royalists then took horses and fled while Giles Boston staggered from the building and crawled along the road seeking help until eventually dying in the street – giving birth to the legend of the “crawling man of the Black Horse.”
The Barley Mow, built-in 1561 is generally considered to be Warrington’s oldest hostelry – but it was built as an inn, to the Black Horse may be entitled to the title “oldest pub.”