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 East Busk  Lane, Otley, LS21 1HN


History of the Site and the Name

The history of the Summercross pub is interesting and complex.  This reflects its important location and its unique name (which has been written as Summercross and as Summer Cross).

The adjacent East Busk Lane (originally known as Busk Lane, busk being the Norse word for bush) forms part of a medieval route down Wharfedale and onward (to York for example).  Late in June 1644 Prince Rupert and a Royalist  army of 14,000 travelled from the garrison town of Skipton to the  garrison town of Knarsbourough.  This was immediately prior to the decisive Civil War battle of Marsden Moor where the Royalist army was defeated by Oliver Cromwell's troops.  It is believed that the Royalists took the East Busk Lane route out of Otley and reputedly the army stayed overnight on "Camp Field" (which is only half a mile from the site of Summercross).  There is evidence that Oliver Cromwell was actually in the Otley area at the same time, and also that he himself passed through Otley with an army in 1648.

Until the opening of the Otley-Leeds turnpike in 1841, East Busk Lane was also the route from Otley to Leeds .

Travellers from Otley to Knaresborough in 1740 are said to have crossed the river Wharfe at “Knot Ford” and then travelled north to Leathley (Pool Bridge was was not built to 1793).  There are other documentary references to a ford in the area while a bird's eye representation of the whole river Wharfe (published in the Yorkshire Weekly Post in July 1890) shows a ford at a point which corresponds to the area now known as Knotford Nook.  A footpath still connects this area to the ancient Eask Busk Lane route.  Interestingly, the sheet 16 reprint of the first edition of the 1" OS map (dated about 1860) shows a "Hasling Ford" crossing the river about where the Knotford sewerage works now stands.

A plaque used to hang in the Summercross saying that the pub name is believed to relate to a summer ford across the nearby river Wharfe (that was probably used to take livestock to Otley market).  This explanation would be consistent with the Knotford location and with the old routes across what was then very marshy land.  However, local historian Paul Wood traces the name to Summercross Closes, the ancient fields which occupied the site in the 17th century.  Paul Wood has very kindly given his permission to publish his fascinating historical research document on the Site of the Summercross on this website.

Whatever its origin, the Summercross is an unusual name and only one UK pub appears to have the Summercross name.


Early History of the Pub

The site is known to have been previously occupied by Busk House which was replaced in the early part of the 19th century by Summer Cross Cottage.  The latter is shown on the 1851 map with several acres of orchard extending well beyond the pub's current gardens. 

 1851 Map

Back in 1753 the commercial potential of the site had further increased with the opening of the Otley-Tadcaster turnpike, the toll house (known as  Low Bar and Low Turnpike) being located on the opposite side of the Pool Road.  It is suspected that the occupants of Busk House started to sell refreshments to travellers on the turnpike, and this practice was continued by the occupants of Summer Cross Cottage.

The 1841 census and the 1851 census both show Summer Cross Cottages occupied by Samuel Hartley (gardener) and his family.  By the 1861 census the cottages where occupied by Grace Waterhouse and her daughter Sarah, with Ellis Hartley (market gardener and son of Samuel Hartley) and his family then living at 57 Pool Road.

The 1871 census shows Ellis Hartley, with his wife Elizabeth and six children, living again at the now renamed Summer Cross Inn.  Interestingly Ellis Hartley's occupation is still shown as market gardener but an independent census entry also shows John Robinson and his wife Sarah at the same address.  The number of occupants suggests that the substantial extension on the Pool Road side of the original cottages (hence the valley in the roof of the current pub) may have been built by that date.  This extension had the effect of turning the pub round to face the other way.  The inn continued to prosper with further extensions and outbuildings subsequently being added.

The two photographs and captions are as published a book by Paul Wood called "Britain in Old Photographs OTLEY & DISTRICT" (published by Alan Sutton Publishing in 1995).  The original versions of the photographs are in Otley Museum.

The Summer Cross Hotel back garden c1889

The Hartleys, gardeners and seedmen, held closes in Summer Cross, with Samuel Hartley using the triangular fields bordering East Busk Lane as a market garden during the mid-nineteenth centaury.  In 1841 this was Hartley's "Dwelling house lately erected".

The Summer Cross Hotel Pool Road c1889

Thomas Walker is offering billiards and good stabling.  During the 1870s the hostelry had capitalised on its position on the Tadcaster Road turnpike, facing Low Bar, but the new hotel hotel turned the property back to front.

Note in the second photograph the narrow width of the then East Busk Lane to the left.  Also note the unrestricted route from East Busk Lane across what is now the Summercross carpark to Danefield Terrace off to the right.  This route has thus been in use for at least 119 years and probably much longer.

The 1881 census confirms that the long association of the Hartley family with the Summercross had ended:

Click here for a collation of the census data relating to the Summercross.

The 1909 map shows the pub as the Summer Cross Hotel with extensive outbuildings (including stabling) and more housing in the immediate area starting to encroach on the orchards.

 1909 Map

In April 1919 the pub was sold at auction by the then owners J.R. Holmes & Sons of Bingley Brewery (Holmes Bingley Brewery was started in 1890), along with 50 other houses and an off-licence, for the sum of £148,000.

From the auction catalogue - Lot 10

A Fully Licensed Inn, known as the Summer Cross Hotel, situate in Pool Road, Otley, in the occupation of Mr. T. Bland.
The internal arrangements comprise on the Ground Floor, entrance passage, filling bar, smoke room, tap room, snug, kitchen, and wash kitchen.
On the First Floor, lodge room and 5 bedrooms, bath room and w.c.
In the Basement, ale cellar and wine cellar.
Outside, coach-house, two 3-stall stables, 2-stall stable, 4 loose boxes, store house, coal house, 2 urinals, and 2 privies. There is a garden and kitchen garden at the side of the house, and also a small paddock or poultry run. The wood buildings belong to the tenant.
Situate in a charming district, this is a most suitable house for an owner occupier.

The buyer was Hammonds Bradford Brewery (hence the two etched glass side windows).

In about 1937 extensive structural and internal changes where made including the demolition of the stables and other outbuildings and the addition of the two distinctive bays to the front.

1937 Building Plans (in Otley Museum)

Web page to be continued - please email any relevant information to

Fredrick Morrell (Historical notes on Otley and District) lists the landlords of the Summercross as follows:

1860 John Brown

1876 Elizabeth Mallinson

1882 Thomas Haley

1888 Thomas Walker

1895 John Duxbury

1896 William Normington

1901 Henry Ackroyd

1912 Sarah Malthouse

1916 Thomas Bland

1922 Alfred Wood

1924 Francis Alvey Hunt

1939 Herbert Arthur Giles

19**  Horace + Patricia West

19**  Laura Jones

19**  Dorothy Jones

1946 Lezlie Lewis

1948 Gladys Cousins

19**  Mr&Mrs D Blomfield (1973 Advert)

   Current Map

The Otley Conservation Area Appraisal:


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