Plough Inn

Hickling Canal Basin & The Plough Inn
Hickling Canal Basin & The Plough Inn

The Plough:

The Plough 30112019
The Plough 30th Nov 2019 (unknown photographer)

The Plough is our last remaining village pub and it stands on the edge of our ‘village green’ – the Hickling Canal Basin.

It isn’t clear when the Plough Inn was first built but it appears to pre-date the Grantham Canal and there are signs that it may be recorded on the 1776 Enclosure Map.

Many families in the village can place their special memories here; weddings, wakes, birthdays, New Year’s Eve parties, reunions, village meetings, charity events – we would love to add your photos and memories to this page, so please contact us using the link above.

  • (as a starter; ours is our first winter in Hickling with no heating, no electricity, being snowed in & wandering up to The Plough where we found blazing fires, a good drink, great food and such a warm welcome!)

Plough landlords and landladies:

  • 1822 – George Hives – (referenced here in 1822, no precise detail)
  • 1844 – Mrs Abigail Hives – (referenced here in August 1845, Dec 1846 and February 1863, no precise detail)
  • 1864 – Mr Thomas Speed            
  • 1871 – John Speed – (referenced here in 1876 when the building was sold to Mr Price & referenced again in April 1878; no precise detail)
  • 1877 – 1894 – Mr Arthur Price   
  • 1881 – Joseph Harris – (census)
  • 1881 – July 1881: To Let vacant c. August; Large clubroom, bar-parlour, taproom, brewhouse, dairy, cellar, homestead, kitchen garden, good orchard, six stall stable, two loose boxes, piggery and other outbuildings.
  • 1884 – Reference to a supper being held in the new room at The Plough
  • 1893 – Arthur Price – Reference to death of Arthur Price (August 1893)
  • 1895 – Mr Thomas & Mrs Elliott (referenced here in October 1895 & host and hostess Elliott’ in July 1896; no precise detail)
  • 1897 – Mrs Richardson – licence transferred from Thomas Elliott to Sarah Ann Richardson (March 1897)
  • 1898 – Mrs Sarah Pickering – licence transfer Sarah Ann Richardson to Sarah Pickering. Mrs Pickering married Harry/Henry Parnham in 1899 & then, according to Wadkin archive photographs, moved to live at the Navigation in 1903
  • 1899 – Harry & Sarah Ann Parnham (previously Pickering) – referenced July 1899
  • 1904 – Mrs Edgson – (referenced Host and Hostess Edgson, July 1904)
  • 1905 – Elliott – Referenced Host and Hostess Elliott, July 1905
  • 1905 – Sampson Cupit & Eliza Ashworth (Ashwell) – licence transfer (Oct 1905) Sampson Cupit to Eliza Ashworth. Ashworth also referenced July 1907, July 1908 (‘hostess Ashwell’ mis-spelling of Ashworth?). Ashwell also referenced in 1909.
  • 1909 – Lewis Chambers – temporary licence transfer (October 1909) to Lewis Chambers. Still there for 1911 census.
  • 1910 – Mr Chambers & Mr Joe Booth     
  • 1917 – 1923 – Mrs Elizabeth Ann Widdison – died November 1923
    • Census 1921:
    • William Widdison – Head – Male – 1867 – 54 – Nottinghamshire – Publican – Own Account
    • Elizabeth Ann Widdison – Wife – Female – 1867 – 54 – Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland – House Duties
    • Edward Mee – Adopted son – Male – 1902 – 19 – Nottinghamshire – Assisting Father In General Work – employed by William Widdison Publican
    • Mary Alice Mitchell – Sister-in-law – Female – 1864 – 57 – Lancashire – None Valid
  • 1924 – 1956 – Mrs Ethel M Armstrong – (Mr Armstrong died in 1925 and Ethel continued alone until 1956)
  • 1956 – Mr Burton Timms            
  • 1959 – Mr Frank Hill      
  • 1978 – Mr R Burrows     
  • 1980 – Mr Taylor            
  • ? to 1997? – Mr Justin Collier – Sadly, Justin died very young whilst still landlord.
  • 1997 – 1999? – Dickie Doyle – 18 months from July/Aug 1997?
  • ? – Mr Chris Howard – (1999?)
  • 2000? – Pete Thacker     
  • 2002? – Keith & Dawn? 
  • 2004 – 2007? – Mr Mark Nicholls (July 2004 – May 2009?)
  • 2007? – Dave (?) – brought in by the brewery as an interim manager for a few months.
  • 2008 – 2010? – Mr Bill Sweet & Ms Penny Brown (Oct 2008 – ?)
  • Closed   – Sold by Scottish & Newcastle – no longer a ‘tied house’.
  • 2011 – 2017? – Mr Bob & Mrs Sue Rook – (April 2011 – Sept 2017?)
  • 2017 – 2019? – Nicola Thompson and Amelia – (March 2017 – May 2019?)
  • 2019 – 2020 – Danny & Andy & Mr Jeremy (Jez) & Mrs Sarah Flacks-Wood – (July 4th 2019 – Aug 2020)
  • 2020 – present – Chris & Kirsty – (August 2020 – present)


This newspaper clipping from July 1895 is typical of reports of village festivals at the time (this one is the annual Club Feast held each July): it includes both the The Plough Inn and The Wheel Inn and regularly featured The Foresters and the (bizarrely named) Amicable or Old Sick Club as well as parades and Church services.

The Amicable or Old Sick Club was a mutual society for the benefit of members if they were unable to work through sickness.


W0337a The Plough - Pickering/Parnham
W0337a The Plough – Pickering/Parnham (between 1899 & 1903)

W0340a Mrs Ethel Armstrong 30yrs at the Plough
W0340a Mrs Ethel Armstrong 30yrs at the Plough

“The boys had some old pram wheels which they used to ride on from the top of the bridge steering into the pub entrance. Mrs Armstrong never minded this but would only have Hickling children never any from a neighbouring village.

“Mrs Armstrong continued as licensee until her death in 1956 aged 74 years.”

“Mr & Mrs Harry Armstrong came to The Plough in 1924. Unfortunately, in 1925, Mr Armstrong died at the age of 52 years.

“Mrs Armstrong was known far and wide and became a respected legend. Beer was fetched from the cellar, four or five pints in a jug at one time. When this was sold, more was fetched. Regulars could often be heard to say, ‘beer’s a bit flat, Missus’, ‘then fetch a pump and pump it up’ was the curt reply. One particular regular ordered his usual and when he received the pint, a mouse was in the glass. The regular complained. Mrs Armstrong took the pint, fished out the mouse and handed back the glass saying, ‘that’s the beer you have been drinking all night.’

“In the late1940s several school boys were playing cricket on the road outside The Plough when the ball accidentally broke a window. With legs shaking, the offender went to tell Mrs Armstrong of the accident. ‘I know you … well have,’ came a cross reply as the door was slammed. The following day, the boy went to pay for the damage but Mrs Armstrong wouldn’t dream of accepting any money. She was also very understanding, not telling the boy’s parents.

(extracts from Wadkin: Reflections of Yesteryear.)


Change of ownership – from brewery to independent.

2009/2010 proved to be a turning point for the Plough. Bill Sweet (born and brought up in Hickling) & Penny Brown were the landlords at the time and they had worked incredibly hard to build up business and improve the area – this included improvements to the gardens, themed events (including a Hogmanay night & a home-made Pork Pie competition), a charity bungee jump, pop-up bars for village events and introducing a children’s play area and a pets area populated by rescue rabbits and guinea pigs.

Country Fair (2010)

This was a time when brewery owned pubs nationwide were in genuine crisis; the breweries raised rents as a business became more successful which meant that the profitability of any business progress was immediately eaten up. They put minimal effort into maintenance and repairs and because the Plough was in a ‘tied’ arrangement with the brewery, the landlords were paying considerably more, per barrel, than independents and had to buy everything else from them, too – also at inflated costs. On top of this, local council business rates were a problem – as an overhead, they were almost equal to the rent.

It was a genuine ‘Catch 22’ situation read more


Please note: this is a large gallery and may take a little while to load to your screen.