Wills O' Nats, Meltham

Wills O' Nats, formerly known as the Spotted Cow Inn and the New Inn, is a public house near Meltham and is located at the junction of Blackmoorfoot Road and Deer Hill End Road, close to Meltham Cop.[1]


The inn is marked as "The Spotted Cow Inn" on the 1854 map of the area. By 1851, the innkeeper was William Dyson, known locally as "Will O' Nats" — meaning "William son of Nathaniel". By the time of the 1871 Census, the inn was also known as the "New Inn", a name which continued to appear on maps until at least the mid-1960s.

As early as the 1870s, the general area where the inn is situated was referred to as "Wills O' Nats" in local newspaper articles.[2]

On a Friday night in January 1871, Thomas Inman, a "tramping scissors grinder" originally from Sheffield, was found collapsed at the foot of the back door steps of the pub, having taken a tumble. He was carried home but died the following day.[3] An inquest returned a verdict of "Accidental death, having fallen down a flight of stone steps, resulting in compression of the brain."[4]

Dyson continued to be named the innkeeper until his death in 1881, during which time a New Inn beerhouse had been opened on Mill Moor Road, Meltham, by Abraham Talor. Mary Dyson initially took over as the licensee following her husband's death[5] before it passed to George Balmforth in March the following year[6].

William Dyson's son, James William Dyson (1848-1903), took over the licence on 2 June 1885 and is named as the landlord in two newspaper articles in the 1890s.[7]

The subsequent recorded licence transfers were:[8]

  • Sykes Shaw on 13 September 1898
  • Edward Renard on 12 March 1901[9]
  • Elliott Walker on 27 October 1903
  • John Walker on 5 October 1926 — son of Elliott Walker
  • Elliott Walker on 7 July 1942 — son of John Walker
  • Ada Walker on 7 May 1946 — widow of Elliott Walker, who died 16 March 1946

Elliott Walker (senior) found himself in trouble after an on-duty policeman was allowed to become drunk on the premises in November 1913.

The inn was a regular starting point for hunts by the Colne Valley Harriers.[10]

Having been known locally as "Wills O' Nats" for decades, the name was apparently formally changed to that in the 1970s. However, archive photographs indicate the inn had "WILLS O NATS" painted on the gable end of the property since at least 1910.[11]

Further Reading


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Notes and References

  1. The area was known locally as "Cop End".
  2. The earliest recorded use as a place name found is "District News: Slaithwaite" in Huddersfield Chronicle (09/Mar/1872).
  3. Thomas was buried on 24 January at St. Bartholomew, Meltham. His age varied widely in the records, but he was likely born around 1800.
  4. "Meltham: Fatal Accident" in Huddersfield Chronicle (28/Jan/1871).
  5. West Yorkshire Alehouse Licences transfer dated 21 June 1881.
  6. West Yorkshire Alehouse Licences transfer dated 7 March 1882.
  7. "County Police Court" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (09/Sep/1891) and "Huddersfield County Court" in Huddersfield Chronicle (17/Feb/1894). By 1911, he was a lodging house keeper in Rutland.
  8. West Yorkshire Alehouse Licences.
  9. Renard was born in America around 1861, although his father originated from Baildon, Wharfedale, Yorkshire, and had returned to there by the time of the 1891 Census. He lost his licence after being found guilty on 11 August 1903 of "keeping his licensed premises open for the sale of intoxicating liquors during prohibited hours", for which he was fined £5 plus costs.
  10. Hunting appointments can easily be found in local newspapers from as early as 1888 through to at least the 1950s.
  11. Kirklees Image Archives.