The Old House at Home was located on the canal side in an area known as “Pye Bridge Meadows”. It is not known when the inn was built, but it probably dated back to the earliest days of the canal in the late 1790’s. The earliest reference relates to a Coroner’s Inquest, held for a drowning in the canal which was published in April 1862. In the report, it was referred to as the “Old House at Home Beer Shop”.
A notice for an auction for the premises was printed in the Derbyshire Advertiser & Journal on 29 October 1880. The details read: “AT SOMERCOTES AND PYE BRIDGE – LOT IX – All that Public House known as “The Old House At Home” with the Brewhouse, extensive stabling, cowsheds, piggeries, garden, orchard and appurtenances thereto, bordering upon the Cromford Canal, and in close proximity to the Pye Bridge Stations of the Midland and Great Northern Railways”. The notice for the auction implies that the premises and land were extensive.
Most of the instances in local newspapers were the Old House at Home is named, relate to accidents and drownings in the Cromford Canal, of which there seems to be many. The landlord or customers of the public house were often called as witnesses, and several Coroner’s Inquests were held there.
The Derbyshire Times & Chesterfield Herald of 18 February 1903 records a transfer of the licensee of the Old House at Home “...from Charles Wass to Harry Dawkes…”
The name of this public house – “Old House at Home” – is not uncommon. There were at least two others in Derbyshire, one of which was at Largess Street, Derby.
Although the Old House at Home is often described as “between Pinxton and Pye Bridge”, its actual location within the boundary of the village can be seen by a notice printed in the Derbyshire Courier dated 10 December 1912, which related to a contract for Scavenging (at the time a bona fide vocation). The notice read “ALFRETON URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL – CONTRACT FOR SCAVENGING – The Alfreton Urban District Council are prepared to receive tenders for SCAVENGING by contract for the undermentioned district, viz: No. 4 from Somercotes Market Place on one side and the “Devonshire Arms” P.H. on the other side, including all properties from there to Pye Bridge Wood Yard on both sides of the road and the “Old House at Home” P.H. and the whole of Quarry Road, Somercotes…”
PHOTO: Photograph of the Old House at Home, date unknown
Through newspaper articles it is possible to ascertain some of the landlords:
As the trade on the canal declined, the Old House at Home must also have suffered economically. The Old House at Home finally closed its doors on Sunday 4 April 1954. The closure was reported in the Ripley & Heanor News as follows: “THE LAST DRINK AT PYE BRIDGE INN – The last customer had his last drink last Sunday at the Old House at Home, a centuries old inn bedise the Cromford Canal at Pye Bridge. The inn, built to serve canal boatmen when the canal was crowded, now attracts so few patrons that the Magistrates refused to renew the licence which expired last Sunday.”
The building was demolished, and all traces were finally erased by the Smotherfly Opencast.