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The Dog Beck

This building takes its name from the stream that once ran into an underground channel in front of what was once known as Toppers nightclub.

21–22 Southend Road, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 8JH

The largely hidden stream known as the Dog Beck crossed the open area now occupied by the adjacent New Squares shopping centre. It then ran into an underground channel in front of these premises and underneath Penrith to the Thacka Beck. These premises are an amalgamation of several properties. The largest is an early 19th-century grade II listed building. Most recently a nightclub, it had housed the Cumberland County Clinic.

A plaque documenting the history of The Dog Beck.

The plaque reads: The name of these licensed premises is taken from the stream which now flows largely underneath Penrith and runs into the Thacka Beck, on the edge of town. The Dog Beck, once known as Tyne Syke, crossed the land now occupied by the New Squares development. It ran into an underground channel in front of this pub – an amalgamation of several properties, most notable a grade II listed early 19th century building, previously a nightclub and, earlier still, the Cumberland County Clinic.

These premises were refurbished by J D Wetherspoon and opened in July 2014.

An illustration and text about the history of The Dog Beck.

The text reads: This building takes its name from the stream that once ran into an underground channel in front of what was once known as Toppers nightclub. The partially man made watercourse, known as Thacka Beck, flowing through the centre of the town, connects the bounding Rivers Petteril and Eamont. The image above is of Brougham Castle, near the junction of the Rivers Eamont and Lowther, another bounding river. Several properties form the amalgamation that is now The Dog Beck, having previously been a grade II listed building and a former mineral water house. The Cumberland Directory for 1962 and 1954 states that neighbouring 20 Southend Road was the Cumberland County Clinic, making it highly likely that part of this building was once the public dispensary. The listed front part of the building is described as early 19th century, the property divided into two properties in the 1860 OS map of Penrith and into three on the 1900s map.

Local landmarks include Penrith Castle and ‘Long Meg and Her Daughters’. The latter is a stone circle that dates from around 1500BC and is situated on the north west outskirts of Penrith. It consists of 69 stones formed from volcanic rock, shaped in an oval with ‘Long Meg’, the 3.6m high monolith, standing 25 meters south west of the circle. Long Meg is formed out of local red sandstone, probably from the River Eden which runs alongside the landmark and features three sections of megalithic art markings on the face that looks towards the circle. It is suggested that the monument was a place where people came together at certain times of the year for ritual, social exchange and trade. The name of the Long Meg stone comes from a local witch, Meg of Meldon, who was alive in the early 17th century.

Penrith Castle was built by Ralph Neville at the end of the 14th century. Ralph Neville was granted the Manor of Penrith in 1336 and built the castle soon afterwards. As Warden of the West March, he was responsible for the defence of this area against the Scots. He reused the remaining banks and ditches from the previous Roman fort, likely to be reason for the castle’s chosen location. His son Richard, 5th Earl of Salisbury, made it his headquarters, probably building the ‘Red Tower’ and improving the entrance defences. Following the death of Richard Neville the castle was granted to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who later became King Richard III. The future King resided at the castle for periods between 1471 and 1485. After Richard became King, the castle remained Crown property, but it was not used again as a permanent residence. Surveys from the mid 16th century describe the castle as partly decayed.

William Wordsworth spent his childhood in Penrith until moving to the other side of the Lake District in 1779, aged 9. He began writing poetry at school, attending Dame Birkett’s alongside his sister and his future wife, Mary Hutchinson, although his work wasn’t published until 1793. Wordsworth’s father was the agent for the Lowther family that resided at Lowther Castle, Penrith, built in the early 1800s for Hugh Lowther, fifth Earl of Lonsdale. The family donated the land opposite this building to the town to be used for sport and recreation.

Text about Alfred Wainwright, accompanied by examples of his book.

The text reads: Alfred Wainwright was born in the Lancashire town of Blackburn in 1907 and his seven volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, published between 1955 and 1966, are still the standard reference work to the 214 fells in the Lake District.

Alfred Wainwright, or AW as he was known, was 23 when he caught his first glimpse of the Lake District. He had saved up for a week’s holiday with his cousin and their first stop was to be Orrest Head near Windermere. It was here his love affair, as he would later refer to it, with the Lakes began, describing it as “magic, a revelation so unexpected that I stood transfixed, unable to believe my eyes… I had seen landscapes of rural beauty pictured in the local art gallery, but here was no painted canvas: this was real. This was truth…”.

An original Bartholomew’s ‘one inch map’.

George Bartholomew (1784-1871), an engraver for Daniel Lizars of Edinburgh initially set the Bartholomew family on the road to cartographic fame and fortune. He was the first of five generations in the Bartholomew map making dynasty. However, it was his son John Bartholomew (1805-1861) that really established the reputation of the Bartholomew firm. Setting up in business as a map engraver in 1826, he soon gained recognition as a skilled cartographer and businessman and by the 1840s with the company’s reputation going from strength to strength.
By the 1860s they were publishing under their own name and over the years there have been many cartographic milestones. During the war years (1939-45) the company was heavily involved in the production of maps for the military and the post-war years saw the company returning to commercial map publishing on a scale.

A poster advertising Ullswater as a destination for activities.

A photograph of Rowcliffe Lane, Penrith, c1890.

A photograph of the Corn Market, Penrith.

A photograph of the Corn Market, Penrith.

An original William Porthouse of Penrith oak longcase clock.

The first Porthouse arrived in Penrith sometime between 1706 and 1716 and their eldest son William was perhaps the premier clockmaker of the family. For 25 years from 1740 to 1765 he was in charge of the clock in St Andrew’s Church, mending the movement and supplying new chimes.
William married Mary Nicholson in Penrith in 1725 and they had a large family of ten children, three of their sons, John, William, and George joining the family business. John Porthouse, William’s son, was born in Penrith in 1728 and died there in 1787.

External photograph of the building – main entrance.

If you have information on the history of this pub, then we’d like you to share it with us. Please e-mail all information to: