A Virtual Stroll Around the Walls of Chester
The Vanished Pubs of Chester Gallery
Its landlord in 1749 had been Thomas Hart, in 1780 Simeon Leet, in 1782 Mrs Leet, in 1818-20 Benjamin Powell, in 1828 Benjamin Sowell, in 1850 John Heppel, in 1880 Daniel Miller, in 1902 Henry Ellison Ostle, in 1910-1914 William Henry Lucas.
This 19th century engraving (right) shows the inn, which was named after the Yacht Field upon which it was built, and the view up Watergate Street towards the centre of the city and the Cross. On the left, Holy Trinity Church is yet to be rebuilt in the form we know it today with its tall spire- which work was carried out in 1865-9 by James Harrison.
Left: this interesting old photograph shows the Yacht Inn at the end of the street and, nearest to us, The Axe Tavern.
This advertisement for the old Yacht appeared in Adams’s Weekly Courant, 7th March 1780:
Simeon was soon to pass on, apparently, as The Yacht appears in Cowdroy's Directory two years later, in 1782 with its licencee being given as Mrs Leet.
The Yacht is seen above in this photograph of c.1900, which shows the view up the street towards Chester Castle. It is hard to believe that only forty ago, this vista remained almost unaltered. But then the Yacht, the venerable Church of St. Martin and every other bulding seen on the left hand side of the photograph was demolished for road widening and today this quiet scene seems difficult to imagine. As may be seen on the right, the inn and its surroundings seem not to have changed for sixty years.
The old inn was
Both the London and Ireland stage coaches called at its door and it was noted for its feasts, entertainments and good accomodation. However, the
churchman, satirist and author Jonathan
Swift was a frequent visitor to Chester, passing through on his way to and from Ireland and his duties as Dean of Dublin Cathedral. He did not seem to greatly enjoy the experience, especially when his stay in the city was extended due to bad weather at the port- by his time the wharves in Chester itself had become unusable and he would have had to travel a few miles by coach to the satellite port of Parkgate along the Wirral coast. During one of these enforced delays, he invited a number of dignitaries from the Cathedral to join him for a meal at the Yacht, but none of them bothered to turn up. Infuriated and insulted, with his diamond ring he scratched into one of the windows:
On the right, we see the old Yacht in its final days, as viewed from the far side of Nicolas Street. Yhe scene remains apparently peaceful- a far cry from the orgy of speeding traffic that roars through here today. The building on the far right is still standing and until very recently housed a fine antiquarian bookshop.
In 1965, the ancient Yacht, its windows and scratchings- together with every other building on the left-hand side of the photograph below- were bulldozed during the creation of the Inner Ring Road, and their foundations and cellars now lie beneath the left-hand carriageway of busy Nicolas Street..
Drawing from 'Chester As It Was' by J S Howson, Dean of Chester 1872
Packing up: final days at the Yacht 1965
Ancient oak beams in the roof of the Yacht, photographed in 1965. Can you see the ghost?
Do you have any more information about this old pub?
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