At the Black Bull Inn we’re proud of our history, dating back into the early 1800’s the pub began its days as a small private brewery, the grain for which was grown locally at a nearby farm on the other side of the road.

Today, undeniably the most important characteristic of this pub is the people and at The Black Bull Inn we will do all we can to ensure that you have both a warm welcome and probably a warm glow from the ale as you leave! For those warm summer or winter evenings for the brave, there is a beer garden situated to the rear of the pub.

The Black Bull has, over the years been run differently. From back in the early 1900s when it wasn’t part of a brewery and was operated by William & Elizabeth Tuson of Ashton-on-Ribble to the modern day as a part of the Scottish & Newcastle brewery. It has also been extended from the original building built pre-1838 to the latest addition to the pub of the Beer Garden.

Historical news extracts:

The Black Bull Inn has a proud history of charitable giving!

Lancashire Evening Post, 1986


“There was a small group of cottages with a smithy and a beerhouse, now the Black Bull, at Pope Lane End. The name Pope Lane is derived from the Pope family who held land in this part of the township during the 17th century.The Black Bull had a small private brewery in the 1700s and 1800s and, indeed, is marked as a brewery and not as a beerhouse on the tithe map. The grain for brewing was grown locally and was malted in the kiln at Malt Kiln Farm to the north, on the other side of Pope Lane.”

Extract from ‘Penwortham in the Past’ by Alan Crosby published April 1988

The Black Bull Inn on Pope Lane appears on the 1840 tithe map of Penwortham as a brewery, with a smithy next door. When this photograph was taken in the early 1900s, Thomas Riley and his wife Alice were the innkeepers and at the time it was a rural and underdeveloped area.

Even in 1932 the pub was known as The Black Bull Beerhouse!

Extract from ‘Penwortham, Hutton & Longton in Focus’ by Bob Dobson

“I have not traced the Black Bull’s history any further back than 1838 where it is clearly marked on the tithe map, alongside the terrace map, alongside the terrace of cottages known as Brown’s Row. The land it stood on was owned by Roger Brown, who also built the cottages, but the occupant was Nicholas Knowles, who ran the brewery, and had a shippon, fold, garden and three fields, so he was also a farmer, though on a small scale.

The same map of 1893 has the letter BH next to the Black Bull: showing that the inn was a beer house rather than a public house, licensed to sell only beer but not spirits.

The inn has had many brewers and publicans through its long history: this book cannot cover all of them, but one in particular has left quite a trail of records behind in the census returns and shows how interlinked the lives of Penwortham people were in the 19th and early 20th century. His name was William Ashton and he appears in the 1891 census aged 36, as ‘farmer and beer house keeper’ at the Black Bull Inn. His wife, Ann, is 32 and assists in the beer house. They have 6 children, the eldest, John, is already working full time on the farm at the tender age of 12! Alice, Nancy, Annie and Grace are all at school and little William is a baby of 3 months.

William and Ann married at St Mary’s Parish Church, Penwortham on 22nd January 1878, when William was 23 years old and his bride 20 [Penwortham Parish Records online]. Ann was the daughter of Thomas and Alice Wilson who lived in a house at Pope Lane End, virtually next door to the Black Bull. They were provision dealers – shopkeepers we would call them now, dealing in fruit and other foodstuffs. Ten years earlier they had been living on Charnock Moss where Alice was a handloom weaver of cotton and Thomas a ‘Black Pudding Maker’! [1861 census online]”

Extract from ‘More Hidden Histories of Penwortham Houses’ by Elizabeth Basquill published 2011

‘For Sale – Beerhouse called ‘The Black Bull’ fronting the highway at Pope Lane End, Penwortham, together with Brewhouses, Shippon, Outbuildings, occupied by Charles Livesey and containing 7457 square Yards or thereabouts’

Lancashire Daily Post 15th October 1902

DEATH FROM EXCESSIVE DRINKING – An inquest was held on Monday, at the Sumpter Horse, Penwortham, before M. Myres, Esq. coroner, on the body of a person named Nicholas Knowles, who had died from excessive drinking. It appeared from the evidence that the deceased, who had been a publican, but had latterly retired from the business, had been in the habit of having fits of drinking for four or five days together. A verdict of ‘Death from excessive drinking’ was returned.

Preston Chronicle – May 8, 1869

NOTICE – All persons having ACCOUNTS against MR NICHOLAS KNOWLES, of the Black Bull, Penwortham, are requested to send them in immediately, and, if found correct they will be discharged; and all persons OWING money to the said Nicholas Knowles are requested to pay the same forthwith.

Preston Chronicle, September 1, 1866

As PS Whiteside, of the county constabulary, was passing the Smithy of John Ascroft, at the end of Pope-lane in Penwortham, about half past eleven o’ clock on Thursday night week, he discovered the building to be on fire. Breaking open the door he found a heap of turf on fire, which had ignited the roof, and he called up the family of Nicholas Knowles, beer seller, who extinguished the flames before much damage was done. It appeared afterwards that Ascroft had been hooping some wheels, and on leaving the smithy the embers of the turf used for heating the hoops had been thrown upon a heap of turf in the smithy before they were fully extinguished.

Preston Chronicle, March 7, 1857 – FIRE IN A SMITHY

Late on Sunday night last, or early on Monday morning, the house of Mr Nicholas Knowles, shopkeeper, Penwortham, was broken into through a back window, and a cheese and a half, some currants, a quantity of tobacco, two rolls of check, and a drawer containing three pounds in copper, besides some thread, worsted, and other articles, were carried off. On the following day, when some of the Rural Police were walking on the banks of the Ribble, they observed a bag concealed in a sewer, which, after the intelligence was communicated to the proper quarter, was watched, and two persons, named Cuthbert Cottam and T. Ingram, were observed to fetch the bag, they were of course followed, and taken into custody. On searching one of the prisoners houses, a pike was found wrapped up in a Northern Star newspaper. On Wednesday, the prisoners were committed to the House of Correction for trial.

Preston Chronicle March 14, 1840 – BURGLARY


Ian Robinson MBII 

22nd April 2011 to date

Anne-Marie Isles ABII

22nd August 2008 to 22nd April 2011

Graham Skeoch

2005 to August 22nd 2008

Peter & Yvonne Whittaker

2003 to 2005

Duncan West

August 22nd 1991 to late 1996

Colin & Doreen Haggar

1969 to August 23rd 1991

Colin retired on his 63rd birthday and had been landlord for 23 years! He took over from his father-in-law John Gornall.

John Edward Gornall

Unknown to 1969

John was also the village blacksmith/farrier and started working at the Bull by waiting on in the front room when customers would ring a bell for service.

Thomas Loxham

1949 – Unknown

William Ashton – a beer seller and his wife, Ann Ashton (census of 1881 and 1891. Their children were John (who was working full time on Ashton’s farm at the tender age of 12!), Alice, Nancy, Annie and Grace (all at school) and little William is a baby of 3 months.

Phillip J J Clifton

1932 – Unknown

Recorded as Landlord of the Black Bull Beerhouse in 1932 (Barretts Directory of Preston & District)

Thomas and Margret Ellen Doyle

1911 – Unknown

Thomas Doyle – an inkeeper and his wife Margaret Ellen Doyle as well as their four children Gilbert, Edith, Harold & Clifford plus servant (!) Margaret Emmerson (census of 1911)


Thomas and Alice Riley

1901 – 1911

(Inn Keeper) & Alice Riley (census of 1901)

James Holt

1896 – 1897

William and Ann Ashton – 1881 – 1891

William Ashton – a beer seller and his wife, Ann Ashton (census of 1881 and 1891. Their children were John (who was working full time on Ashton’s farm at the tender age of 12!), Alice, Nancy, Annie and Grace (all at school) and little William is a baby of 3 months.


James Sutton

1877 – 1881

John Ashcroft

1873 – 1877

John and Jean Wrennall

1871 – 1873

Nicholas Knowles

1838 – 1866

(Beer Seller – census of 1861)- from before 1838 to at least 1861

Owners/Operators & Brewery History

William & Elizabeth Tuson of Ashton-on-Ribble until 1895

James Holt of the Ribbleside Inn, Preston 1896 to 1897

Thomas Sharples of Longton 1896 to 1916

Thomas Richard Wilkins of Longton from 1917 to ?

W & R Wilkins Brewery – 1917 to 1952

Groves & Whitnall Brewery – 1952 to 1961

Greenall Whitley (later Greenalls) Brewery 1961 to 1998

Pubmaster? – to be confirmed

Scottish & Newcastle – present

Buildings History

Extension 1 circa 1987

Extension 2 ?

Main building built before 1838

A special thanks to:

Gordon Small of CAMRA West Lancs Branch and to many customers for their assistance with the research

Dave Cookson for the 1932 information

Peter Bamford of Lytham for the 1911 Census information

Heather Crook of the Penwortham Magazine for supplying the information relating to Nicholas Knowles

Stephen Finney for the information about Colin Hagger and John Gornall

Annette Gornall for information (grand daughter of John Gornall and niece of Colin Hagger)

We’re still researching!

Know any history of the Bull not recorded here? Let us know!