The Cross and Cow at the Bridge was once a wonderful old pub. The original part was built in the 16th century it is believed and it houses some lovely old beams. We understand these would have been recycled from old ships, once they had hardened, so the building had to be built to accommodaate some strange shapes so we believe. That’s why ceilings sag and rooms are quite small in old houses. They knew how to recycle in those days without having green bins and dustbins full of plastics and other non-essential items.
The original building was probably nothing more than a shack, strengthened with beams to prolong its life. People used to drink beer in those days, albeit weak, because the water was so infected it wasn’t safe to drink. So our pub was originally someone’s little home that opened up to sell the odd pint to weary travellers and perhaps friends. Over the generations it was extended until the most recent extension, which was most likely built in the 20s or 30s (1920s that is!). I doubt very much work had been done on anything since then, so almost 100 years of neglect. But it still contained some original features, which was wonderful, but gave us the headache of restoring them where possible and retaining the authenticity of the project. It also meant that the rooms were very small so something had to be done about the layout to accommodate the workings of a modern pub. We wanted to remove a couple of walls – a shame but it was impossible to work with the original layout, so they had to go. We would eventually have two bars, unlike most public houses these days that have only one large open-plan bar. That in itself made life a bit more difficult but we wanted to retain as much character as possible and thought we could live with this layout. We planned to serve food of course, since that’s where most of the income is these days, so one bar would be the food area and we wanted to turn the other into the cosiest pub lounge in the county.
That’s what we took on and it was of course a major challenge.
Once the living was sorted and shut off from the rest of the pub, we could start on the filthy work of restoring the working part of the building – and a daunting task it was.