The Swan is Meltham's oldest surviving inn, established by the Garlick family as early as the 1730s. The family were local butchers and the earliest recorded name — the Shoulder of Mutton — reflected their profession. The name was changed to the Swan Inn between 1803 and 1817 by John Garlick, possibly to avoid confusion with the Shoulder of Mutton Inn which was situated on the proposed Lockwood and Meltham Turnpike road (now Huddersfield Road) at Lockwood.
The Garlick family acquired land behind the inn during the Enclosure of Meltham and were likely able to influence the route of the proposed Meltham and Wessenden Head Turnpike road (now Wessenden Head Road) in 1820s to ensure it began at the Swan Inn, crossing over the land they had acquired. The Garlicks then profited from selling ten plots of building land on the northern side of the new road. The family's links to the inn ended in 1846 when John Garlick advertised the premises for let and was then shortly afterwards declared an "insolvent debtor".