Please be patient while the images are loading - it is worth the wait ...
The Eagle Inn, Skerne
The Eagle Inn, situated in the village of Skerne, near Driffield in East Yorkshire, was originally called the BOARD INN when it first opened for trade in 1822. The name was changed to the EAGLE INN when Christopher Leybourn took over as proprietor in 1864. The pub underwent some refurbishment at this time, and it may also have been then that its Victorian beer engine was installed. This remained in use right up until the pub's closure in 2003. It was one of only eight pubs in the country that had no bar; drinks were dispensed in the cellar and brought up to customers on trays.
The Eagle Inn in winter
Roy Edmond pulling a pint of Cameron's Bitter from the Eagle's Victorian beer engine, probably taken in the 1970s
Photo published in the 1976 East Yorkshire Good Beer Guide showing the Eagle's beer engine and the wooden barrels to which it was connected
A later photo showing Roy in 2002, shortly before he retired, pulling a pint from The Eagle's beer engine
The Eagle's beer engine as it was shortly before the pub closed, taken from CAMRA's Pub Heritage entry of Historic Pub Interiors (photo courtesy of CAMRA)
The pub finally closed in 2003 following Roy Edmond's retirement due to ill-health. It was purchased by a local builder, who planned to refurbish the pub and re-open it for trade. Controversy then arose when CAMRA applied for, and was granted, a Grade II listing order on the building, which means that no structural alterations or changes to the interior layout of the property can be made. As such, the new owner was unable to see a viable future for it, so it is once more up for sale. In the meantime, sadly, the property is falling into a state of dereliction and decay. It is to be hoped that a satisfactory resolution can be found to this unhappy state of affairs before it is too late.
The Eagle features in CAMRA's Inventory of Heritage Pubs: http://www.heritagepubs.org.uk/pubs/national-inventory-entry.asp?pubid=297. Of particular interest are the photographs it includes of The Eagle's interior layout, including the cellar with its Victorian beer engine (which was donated to me after the pub's closure and which I have had restored). It is clearly evident from that photograph that the beer engine was in a rather sorry state when in situ and still in everyday use, and that the deterioration in its condition was not, as I had previously assumed, solely brought about due to its storage in a garage after its removal from the pub.
In June 2009 a group of Skerne residents put together a proposal to make an offer for The Eagle with a view to re-opening the pub after a full but historically sympathetic (CAMRA approved) restoration, that it might continue to serve the local community with 1900's type service and appeal It had been my hope that the venture would succeed, and the villagers of Skerne would see The Eagle recommissioned as a pub once more.
Had the plan come to fruition, my view was that Eagle's restoration would not be complete without its Victorian beer engine being reinstalled back in its original context where it belonged and could be appreciated by all, rather than remain in a private collection. I indicated to the group's organiser at the time that I would be only too happy for them to have the beer engine for nothing, save reimbursement of the cost to me of the restoration work carried out on it. It will have pulled its last pint of Cameron's back in 2003, however, and could serve nothing other than a non-functional, display-only role now. The leather seals inside the pump cylinders have long since perished, and its lead pipework and chromed brass taps do not meet with modern Health & Safety regulations. For the full story on The Eagle's Victorian beer engine, click here.
Sadly, two years on, it seems that those plans have failed to materialise. The present owner could not see a viable future for the property to be refurbished and reopened as a pub. An application for planning permission to convert the building into a private dwelling was submitted on 27 May 2011, and was approved by East Riding of Yorkshire Council on 7 September 2011.
Acknowledgements - My thanks to Sue and Norman Harris, who kindly provided the information and photographs shown above, and for their generous donation of the Eagle's beer engine. Also to Tony Fisher, an erstwhile regular of The Eagle, for supplying the 1976 EYGBG photo.
Throughout its 181-year history as a public house, the Board/Eagle Inn has only had 7 licensees: