There had to be one, somewhere in Plymouth, at some point in time – a pub named after the local football team. The question is, when did this York Street pub acquire its name?
The building it seems, was used as a beer retailer’s from at least the early 1860s and therefore most likely, since it was first built. However, Argyle didn’t play their first game until October 1886, and it would appear that part of the inspiration for calling the team Argyle was Argyll Terrace, off Houndiscombe Road, which was, itself, then relatively newly built. The earliest clear reference found to date for York Street premises as the Argyle Arms is dated around 1911, just a few years after the club went professional (in 1903), but it may well be that the name had already been in use before that, either way, soon after the outbreak of the Great War in 1914 the property ceased to be a beerhouse and became a milliner’s instead.
Incidentally, it’s interesting to note that one of the licensees was called William Harper, namesake of a later Argyle Scottish stalwart who joined the club from Arsenal in 1931.
1862 Harriet Stewart
1867 William Stewart
1873 James Denniford
1890 William Harper
1895 WJ Cross
1907 F Bartlett
A somewhat unusual name for a pub it was by no means unique to Plymouth as there is another, still open today, in Lancashire (Todmorden) and there is a Shannon, in Suffolk (Bucklesham) and a Two Ships (in Rochdale) all of which commemorate the same event: namely the celebrated sea battle off Boston Harbour in 1813 between HMS Shannon and USS Chesapeake.
The former was well-known in Plymouth before the incident, having been here in 1808, 1809 with a captured French cutter, and 1811, when her hull was re-coppered. Commanded on each occasion by Captain Philip Broke, the Shannon’s crew were well-trained and well-disciplined and by the summer of 1813 Britain had suffered a couple of embarrassments at the hands of the American Navy, so Broke’s success over the Chesapeake made him a national hero and did much to restore morale across the country.
The pub stood on the corner of Pembroke Street and Canterbury Street.
1847 Mary Crispin
1852 George Soper
1867 William Gordon
A popular village inn for 150 years and more (some of the buildings nearby date from the 1700s) the Royal Oak at Hooe was run in the middle of the last century by the Ryder family.
Thomas Ryder was here in 1850, and at the same time Abraham Ryder was at the Victoria Inn around the corner.
Thomas was succeeded by Henry Ryder and he was followed by Thomas Cole, who not only managed the pub but also collected and assessed the local rates and taxes.
Those were the days – when the Royal Oak was even closer to Hooe Lake than it is now, when water used to lap the mud and grassy bank that, prior to the infilling, came right up to the side of the road.
Messrs Pine, Furse, Wiltshire and Knight are among the various licensees from the earlier part of this century.
Originally published: EH 16 Nov 1999