The Dog & Doublet Inn is located on Main Road, Pye Bridge. Its name is unusual, but not unique. It is thought to refer to a very old traveller’s tale and describes a showman’s performing dog, which was dressed in a doublet during the performance.
It dates from very early in the 19th century and was ideally situated to service the ironworks and canal trade that would have existed at the time. Early maps of Pye Bridge show a steam operated corn mill and a building opposite, across the turnpike, which is almost certainly the Dog & Doublet. There were very few houses built at the time, and the inn would have relied mainly on a substantial passing trade and visitors to the ironworks requiring board and lodging.
Early accounts of the Dog & Doublet can be seen in the various newspaper reports that were printed in the Derby Mercury. The earliest so far discovered was published on 24 November 1808, which read: “Sale by auction by Mr. Hickson at the house of Mr. Kennedy, the Dog and Doublet at Pye Bridge near Alfreton… valuable household furniture and effects”. Another, from 27 March 1817 reads: “Whereas a horse belonging to Richard Nightingale’s boatman was left at Wm. Booth’s, the sign of the Dog and Doublet, Pye Bridge at Michaelmas last, also one belonging to Henry Gillot left March 1st 1817, Notice is hereby given that unless these horses are taken away within 14 days hereof they will be sold to defray expenses – Pye Bridge, March 22nd 1817”
A short obituary was published in the Derby Mercury on 30 January 1828, which read “Suddenly on Saturday, Jan 19th, in the 56th year of her age, Mrs Hannah Booth of the Dog Public House, Pye Bridge in this county, much respected”. It is probable that Hannah Booth took over the licence after the death of her husband, which was often the case.
The first mention in a Trade Directory is that of the 1831 edition of Pigot’s, who listed a Mr. John Taylor as the Inn-keeper.
As with most inns of the time, the Dog & Doublet played host to a variety of events, from Coroner’s Inquests, local auctions to union meetings. The Derby Mercury, published on 2 July 1834, ran a notice for a local auction “TO BE SOLD AT AUCTION – By Mr. Wright – At the house of Mr. John Taylor, the Sign of the Dog and Doublet, Pye Bridge, in the Parish of Alfreton, on Monday the Seventh of July 1834 at five o’clock in the Afternoon, subject to such conditions as shall then be produced:- All those Two nearly erected and substantially built DWELLING HOUSES situate at Pye Bridge, in the Lordship of Summercoates [sic], in the parish of Alfreton, in the county of Derby, with suitable and convenient outhouses and excellent gardens in very rich cultivation, in the occupation of Thomas Jubb and Thomas Jubb Jnr. AND Also all that newly erected building now used as a Joiners Shop together with the Ground adjoining, which is now occupied as a Wood Yard…”.
The inn catered for large events. In the Derby Mercury of 17 January 1849, an article appeared regarding the miners working for the Morewood collieries: “CHRISTMAS CHEER – On Saturday last, according to annual custom, the whole of the workmen employed upon the coalfields of W P Morewood Esq., were regaled at the George Inn, Alfreton and the Dog and Doublet Inn, Pye Bridge with a plentiful supply of roast beef and plum pudding, and three pints of ale per man”. Although no numbers of the men entertained are mentioned in the article, another, published three years later again in the Derby Mercury, of 15 January 1851 read “Treat to Workmen.—On Saturday last, W. P. Morewood, Esq., of Alfreton Hall, gave his annual dinner to the workmen employed at his coal fields. There being a strong muster, it was divided into two parties. At Mr. John Taylor's, the Dog and Doublet Inn, Pye Bridge, ninety men and boys sat down to a substantial dinner of roast beef and plum pudding, with an allowance of three pints of ale per man; eighty others were also regaled in a similar manner at Mrs. Briddow's, the Red Lion Inn, Green Hill Lane”.
Mr. John Taylor was still the inn-keeper in 1857. A marriage announcement in the Derbyshire Times & Chesterfield Herald, published on 23 May 1857, stated “…At Derby on the 16th Instant, Mr. John Taylor, of Pye Bridge Inn, near Alfreton to Sarah, youngest daughter of Mr. R. Wildgoose of Darley Dale.” The Pye Bridge Inn referred to was the Dog & Doublet.
It is probable that John Taylor left the Dog & Doublet after the marriage, as in the same year, 1857, White’s Trade Directory lists the inn-keeper as John Peck. In October 1879, The Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald printed a report on the Alfreton Petty Sessions, where it was stated that “…a violent assault took place on Mrs. Birkin, landlady of the Dog & Doublet, Pye Bridge…”. By the census of 1891 the proprietor had once again changed, and was recorded as Mr. William Oakley.
As the hamlet of Pye Bridge grew around the Dog & Doublet it became the life and soul of the small community. The Pye Bridge Football Club held their meetings there, as did occasionally the Notts. and Derbyshire Cricket League.
Many of the landlords are named in local newspapers. A notice regarding the death of Harry Parsons was published in the Ripley & Heanor News on 11 November 1904 which read: “SUDDEN DEATH — Mr. Harry Parsons, landlord of the Dog and Doublet lnn, Pye Bridge, suddenly expired about mid-day on Friday last. Some months ago he had an attack of typhoid fever, from the effects of which he was still suffering. A day or two ago he had a fall, injuring his head, but no serious results were anticipated. He, however, passed away suddenly. He leaves a widow and five children.” Harry’s widow, Charlotte, took over the licence
The longest licensee of the inn was probably John Clarke. His obituary was reported in the Ripley & Heanor News on 2 December 1938: “DEATH OF PYE BRIDGE LICENSEE. The death took place on Saturday last of Mr. John Clarke, of the Dog and Doublet Inn, Pye Bridge, at 70 years of age. He was one of the oldest licensees in the Alfreton district. He was at the Dog and Doublet Inn for 35 years. He had previously held licences at the Crown Inn, Sleetmoor, Horse and Jockey, Leabrooks and the Seven Stars Inn, Riddings. With his wife, he took a keen interest in all local activities, and was a generous supporter of good causes. He was a native of Selston, and leaves a widow and two sons. The interment was in Selston Churchyard on Wednesday. The family mourners were: The Widow, Mr. J. G. Clarke (Alfreton). Mr. G. W. Clarke (Pye Bridge); Mr. A. Clarke (Nottingham); Mr. W. Clarke (Selston); Mr. H. Oakley (Whatstandwell); and Mr. T. Clarke (Selston).”
John Clarke was also a farmer. After his death a notice appeared for an auction lot by Henry Spencer & Sons which appeared as follows: “Thursday, January 19th  at the Dog & Doublet, Pye Bridge. At 12.30pm. Without Reserve. Sale of Live & Dead Farming Stock, Implements, Carts, Harness, 3 caravans, surplus household furniture and effects. By instructions received from the executors of the late John Clarke”. John’s widow took over the licence of the inn and was the landlady for several years.
In the latter half of the 20th century the trade on which the inn had previously depended had all but disappeared. The closure of the ironworks in 1969 together with other local industries reduced trade. Workers meetings were no longer held there. The annual vegetable and flower shows stopped and passing trade became almost non-existent. Despite the closure of many public houses in the parish during this time, including the Black Horse, The Royal Tiger and the Rifle Volunteer, much to the credit of its publicans the Dog & Doublet continues trading and serving the local population.