The Public House, respectfully called the Commercial House, better known to most of us as simply the Pub. Some incorporated the word Hotel in their name whilst others were called Inns. Some pubs in Darwen had their own stables and ran other services including funerals and weddings, and the evidence can still be seen with the arched wagon entrance (The Cemetery). In some of the early pubs the local justices would meet to hear prosecutions (The Anchor). In the early days deliveries were by horse and dray with most arriving from Blackburn from the larger Thwaites and Nuttall breweries, but Darwen had its own brewery – Crooks on Grimshaw Street for some time. Besides the recognised establishments which were licensed to sell intoxicating drinks in-house there were also many beer sellers in Darwen who would fill a jug for you to take away.
For many people the pub became the hub of the local community where weavers and miners would congregate after work to smoke a clay pipe and down a pint. Records show, however, that some pubs were renowned for anti-social behaviour following the consumption of too much alcohol (the Black Dog at Chapels) and the local justices would refuse to renew licences.
To retain customers some pubs cleverly copied the retail establishments who offered tokens for folk to save up for Christmas and the like. Of course, once purchased the tokens could only be spent in the pub from where they were purchased, so if you could catch a weaver on his way home with wages in his pocket then a certain percentage of his wages could be guaranteed to be spent on ale.
Most pubs consisted of a number of small rooms each with a warm coal fire and a particular name and purpose – the lounge, the snug, the games room. Over the years the community spirit was encouraged through the development of the pub teams. Some of these were concerned with indoor activities such as dominoes, darts and snooker and town leagues between pubs grew steadily. Later, pubs became the headquarters for football and cricket teams in the local amateur leagues with publicans often sponsoring the team.
Changes to the way in which people spend their leisure time have meant that pubs have had to change with the times or face closure as customer numbers dwindled. The number of pubs in Darwen has dwindled in recent times, but some have shown a level of adaptability and diversity necessary to retain their place in society.