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Ye Olde White Horse

Friday, 5 November 2021 at 22:12

Inn on a cigarette card on Dr John Dunn. Ye Olde White Horse

The story of the road is told in these photographs, which will soon be part of a YouTube production that I am preparing.

We are at Eaton Socon on the Great North Road, outside the famous old coaching inn, Ye Olde White Horse. As a provider of hospitality to passers-by, this old building has been around since the 13th century.

Its glory days came in the coaching era, when this was the quintessential coaching inn on the road between London, York and Edinburgh. It was during this era that it received a Georgian 'makeover', hiding its timber-framed origins.

I am interested in what I have coined as the transition era, i.e. when these roads and inns fell into decline due to the rise of the steam railway network, and when they began to revive again, prompted by the return of traffic to the roads, firstly in the form of cyclists, and then as motorists.

This old inn at Eaton Socon served the two groups as shown by the signs hanging from the wall in the first photograph. Cyclists take priority above motorists, which suggests that it was taken around 1900. Its hard to see on the photo, but signs on the wall promote Vacuum Motor Car oils, Shell Motor Spirit,and Pratt's Spirit.

The road is not yet tarmacked, harking back still to the turnpike era that ended only 15 years before.