Dominating the old Market Place, the Dog Inn has a history that can be traced back to 1913, when it was built following the demolition of The Old Dog Inn, a historic pub which dated back to the 1830s.
Although originally one of the most popular pubs in Longridge, The Dog Inn has had a chequered history over the last decade, changing hands multiple times, and eventually shutting its doors in 2009. It had been closed for around xx months when its new owner, Ben Lee, took the place over.
It has now been refitted and refurbished with photos and memorabilia taken from its past, and is now exactly what one imagines an English Gastropub to be, with open fireplaces, dark wooden beams and a host of newspapers which create a cozy atmosphere.
As for the town of Longridge, it was a small rural settlement for centuries, with farming at its heart, but fast forward to the late 18th century and Longridge had become a booming cotton town, experiencing a rapid expansion, with new houses being constructed for the growing population.
Of those houses, Club Row on Higher Road not far from the Dog Inn itself is a fantastic example. Built between 1793 and 1804 it is a row of 20 listed terraced cottages, numbered 4 to 44 and was built by quarrymen who formed themselves into a club, later to become known as the Longridge Building Society, into which they paid a fixed weekly sum. Once enough money had been saved, they began to build the cottages at a cost of £138 3s 6d and as each house was built, the quarrymen drew lots to decide who should move in. Amazingly, Club Row is now the oldest group of Building Society houses surviving in the country and is even mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records.
By 1840 a railway had been built to Preston to transport stone from the Tootle Heights stone quarries up on Higher Road. Initially horses were used to pull the wagons along the rails, however in 1848 one of the earliest steam engines in the world arrived, providing a fast method of transportation for the new industries including steam-powered cotton mills and brass and iron foundries.
In 1861 new chapels were built in Berry Lane to meet the religious needs of the growing population, by which time was 3000 souls – the Congregational Church followed in 1865 and then the Methodists in 1884, whilst in 1888, St Paul’s Anglican Church just off Berry Lane was completed.
The largest and most impressive building in Longridge, then and now is the Longridge Co-Operative Industrial Society building. Built in Berry Lane in 1880, you can still find the building by walking straight down Berry Lane from the Dog and it’s on your left next to the much smaller modern day Co-op supermarket. Though not immediately identifiable due to the insertion of recent shop frontages, look up and you will see the co-op inscription. The building contained a ballroom, a bank, and library and included shops and stores. The ballroom was able to accommodate up to 800 people at any one time!
By 1892 the cotton industry had completely taken over the town and several large cotton mills had been built including the Victoria Mill in 1862, which was found to the north off Green Lane, Cramp Oak Mill in 1851 off Berry Lane, Stone Bridge Mill in 1850 and Queens Mill in 1874 off Chatburn Road. The stone quarries were still going strong with a large one known as Chapel Hill Quarry behind the Duke William Public House, now converted into houses, a much smaller quarry to the east of Fell Brow and the very large quarry at Tootle Heights called West End Quarry, serviced by the railway. Stone from the quarries was used to build some of the biggest and most impressive buildings in Liverpool. New reservoirs were built around Longridge in 1842 and 1899 to serve neighboring cities as well as the local population. By the end of the century, 60-70% of the workforce was employed in the cotton industry, 20% in stone extraction, and less than 10% in agriculture.
In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Longridge thus:
“Longridge (is) a village and a chapelry in Ribchester parish, Lancashire. The village stands in the townships of Alston, Hothersall, and Dilworth, on the South west slope of Longridge fell, 1½ miles South West of the terminus of the Preston and Longridge railway, 2 miles North of the River Ribble, 3½ miles West by North of Ribchester, and 7 miles North East of Preston; is a populous and thriving place; carries on nail-making, cotton-spinning, and the manufacture of various cotton fabrics; conducts a large trade in the transport, by railway, of building-stone from neighbouring quarries; and has a post-office, under Preston, a railway station, and fairs on 16 Feb., 16 March, 16 April, Holy Monday, and 5 Nov. …”
A History of Longridge and its People. JM Till (1993)
Yet even by 1900, the traditional industries of Longridge were in decline. The railway continued for passengers until 1930 and thereafter for goods only until 1967, when it closed. The former station further down Berry Lane has been converted into a café lying next to the Towneley Arms Hotel.
More reservoirs were built on the outskirts of the town in 1906, 1931 and 1956, though the last quarry closed just after World War II, one opened briefly to supply stone used in the building of the nearby M55 motorway to Blackpool in the 1970s.
Since the 1960s, the town has expanded and has a population at last count of 7546 and acts mainly as a dormitory town for the surrounding Lancashire towns and as a destination for tourists. All the cotton mills have now been demolished apart from parts of Stone Bridge Mill and Queens Mill, with Booths Supermarket being built on part of the Cramp Oak Mill site off Berry Lane.
Some older buildings remain, particularly in the Market Place where the Dog Inn sits, which is bordered by two or three storey stone buildings, mainly 18th and 19th century in date, with the famous Longridge cinema just a few yards away.