Eagle Pub in Buxton to close – history behind one of Buxton’s oldest pubs with old photographs

Eagle Hotel & Restaurant in 1934.
Eagle Hotel & Restaurant in 1934.

The Eagle pub in Buxton owned by Hydes Brewery (since 1999) will serve its last pint ever on New Years Eve 2022. The news about the closure of one of Buxton’s oldest pubs has shocked and saddened many.

Speaking on Facebook in November, manager Fiona said, “It is with a heavy heart that I must announce Hydes Brewery have decided to sell the Eagle”.

Last trading day – Going out with a bang New Years Eve party

“To celebrate my long association with the pub and taking a golden handshake from the business, please join me in our Going out with a bang – Drink Fiona dry New Year’s Eve and last trading event”

“All stock must go! So let’s make it a night to remember, friends old and new are all welcome, we look forward to seeing you and thank you very much for your custom and support over the years”.

Door close for the very last time at the end of trading on New Years Eve on 31st December 2022. More information about the NYE party can be found on the Eagle Facebook page at: facebook.com/theeaglebuxton

What’s the history behind one of Buxton’s oldest pubs?

The Eagle, a Grade II listed building, is thought to date back to 1592 when it was called The Eagle and the Child Inn. Purchased in the 1740s by the 3rd Duke of Devonshire, it was then rebuild in the 1760s by the 5th Duke of Devonshire and became a major coaching inn ‘dinner’ stop for the Manchester to London route, providing food, accommodation and stabling. Interestingly, an agreement was made with the White Hart Inn, situated opposite on Scarsdale Place, that passengers travelling south to London would use the White Hart and those travelling north to Manchester used the Eagle and Child.

Eagle pub Buxton
Buxton Market Place in c.1875. A few doors down are Hargreaves & Sons – originally located on the Market Place before they moved to Spring Gardens where we see the business today.

For those who don’t know, coaching inns were the lifeblood of 17th and 18th century travel in Britain and a vital part of transport infrastructure across Europe until the development of the railways. They provided a resting point for people and horses; the inn served the needs of travellers, for food, ale and rest. The attached stables cared for horses. They were used by private travellers in their coaches, the public riding stagecoaches between one town and another, and (in England at least) the mail coach. The Queens Head Hotel in Higher Buxton is another historic coaching inn with its origins dating back to the 1600s.

Eagle pub Buxton
Buxton Market Place c.1870s – note the ‘new’ Town Hall (building in the centre of the picture) has not been build yet. The Town Hall we see today was build in 1887-88.

With the arrival of the railways, the coaching trade inevitably declined and part of the Eagle became a separate lodging house. By 1834 the name had changed to the Eagle Hotel. Records show that in the 1840s and 1850s the building was used as Magistrates courts. Later, in 1903, it was briefly known as the Devonshire Hotel in an attempt to attract a more upmarket customer but this wasn’t successful and the name soon reverted back to The Eagle.

Eagle pub Buxton
Eagle Hotel and Restaurant, c.1930s. Note the cross is in this photo – which has been moved several times.

By 1933 the Eagle was operating as a hotel with a restaurant and café. Over time it began to be run purely as a pub and became the stalwart it is today in the Buxton pub scene.

Eagle pub Buxton
Dining room at the Eagle Hotel & Restaurant in 1933.

There was a notorious incident in 1975 outside the Eagle Hotel some readers may well remember where a man called Brian Hughes decided to brutally end the life of another man called John Craven on the day after Boxing Day. Goodwill to all mankind was not on the mind of the wielder of the sawn-off shotgun. Back in those days, pubs closed at 11.30pm and outside on the pavement on that fateful night, Hughes settled his differences with Craven, shooting him in the stomach from two feet away before going home with his wife. Apparently, there had been friction between the two men for years. In his defence, Hughes claimed that Craven had threatened to kill him; at one point claiming he was going to put a bomb in his house. It is not clear whether Craven’s threats were serious but it seems that Hughes thought so, opting to deliver a fatal strike first. There was no great man hunt: Hughes handed himself in at Buxton Police Station in the early hours of the next morning, confessing ‘You need look no further, I shot the bastard, he’d been threatening to kill me for the past three years and I’m glad he’s dead.’

The Eagle has seen many changes over time with a colourful history. The Hollywood bar was once called the Dutch’s Bar and in the late 80s and early 90s was packed every weekend and often served as the prequel to ‘bagging it’, or rather, going to the Gaslight nightclub just a few doors away. Those who frequented the scene around this time may recall walking through the Tap Room bar (which took you through to the Lounge bar) and hearing raspberry’s being blown (every time you walked through); a random memory of this legendary pub but one that some will remember…lol.

The tap room at the pub has remained fairly traditional over the years where as the Lounge bar and Hollywood bar have seen several changes. Back in the 80s and 90s the Lounge bar was a solid Sunday night haunt with a pool table and would pack in the crowds as the weekend drew to a close.

It’s sad to see yet another well known pub close in the town – over recent years we’ve lost so many (White Lion, Prince of Wales, the George, to name a few); check out our feature on 16 bars and pubs that no longer exist in Buxton. As the Eagle pub in Buxton opens tonight on New Year’s Eve for the very last time, we wish the manager Fiona all the very best for the future. It sounds like you’ll be giving the place once heck of a send off later…

All images courtesy of Derbyshire County Council: Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.
Source: Buxton Museum and Art Gallery & ‘Buxton Pubs’ by Julian Cohen.

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