The Red Lion is, along with Ellenbrook chapel which it faces, one of the oldest establishments in the area; the date 1729 is marked on one of its drainpipes. A red lion rampant was the main blazon on the coat of arms of the Egerton family, which owned Worsley and much of Boothstown for several hundred years until 1923. Before being taken over by the breweries, most local inns were attached to farms, and the Red Lion was no exception.
In the early 1760s, land on the east side of Newearth Road was taken into cultivation and added to the demesne farm of Worsley Old Hall. Those fields are named on the estate map of 1764 as Near New Earth, Far New Earth, Mid New Earth and Long New Earth – so it is clear why the road got its name. John Gilbert, the Canal Duke’s famous agent, and engineer of the underground canals, held the lease of this land, which became part of the Red Lion farm. When Gilbert died in 1795, his son had the lease until 1813. The Gilberts did not occupy the farm, and evidence suggests that the Newton family may have lived there. The younger Gilbert died in 1812, and in 1813 his executors gave up the lease in consideration of Ł8,000 paid to the 2nd Marquess of Stafford, heir to the Duke of Bridgewater; at this time it was described as a leasehold interest in the Public House and premises at Ellenbrook.
The first time the name Red Lion appears in documents specifically relating to the Ellenbrook inn is September 1823 when Mrs. Newton provided breakfast for the boundary walkers; a Richard Newton was known to have held extensive land and buildings at Ellenbrook in 1817. Newton appears to have added Gillibrand’s farm, which lay to the south, to the New Earth fields, making 43 acres in all. The land behind the inn which is now a car park was formerly a bowling green, and must at one time have been the farmyard.
During the first half of the 19th century, the Red Lion pub and farm was kept by the Newton and Nicholls families. From 1842 until the end of the century the Red Lion was held by the Taylor family.
The Taylor family took over the Red Lion in 1842. They were a Worsley family with a tradition of innkeeping: Oliver Taylor had kept the Cock Hotel (then known as the Mesne Lee) as early as 1639, followed by Mary Taylor, who was there in 1722. A James Taylor was keeper of the Stocks in Walkden (locally known as the Swan, though officially called the Swan With Two Necks). From 1691 to 1744 Roger Taylor kept the White Horse in Worsley Road, Swinton, where the Select Vestry of the Township of Worsley used to meet, as it also did at the Mesne Lee. In 1830 a James Taylor and his wife assaulted the constable whilst a warrant was being served; this may have been the James Taylor who became innkeeper of the Red Lion in 1842. From that year, Taylor, like his predecessors, was liable to serve as a juror. He was also a churchwarden at Eccles church, and an official of the Township of Worsley, the equivalent in its day of a town council.
The 1851 census recorded James Taylor (aged 62) as farmer of 50 acres. His household comprised Mary (57, farmer’s wife), James (33, son, unmarried), Elizabeth (30, daughter), George (22, son, unmarried), Joseph (20, son, unmarried), and Thomas Mottershead (26, farm labourer).
By 1861, James Taylor (now aged 72, and a widower) was still the innkeeper and farmer, and was described as ‘licensed victualler’. His household now consisted of James (42, son, unmarried, land agent), Elizabeth (40, daughter, unmarried, household duties), Sarah (36, daughter, unmarried), George (31, son, unmarried, agricultural labourer), Joseph (29, son, unmarried, agricultural labourer), Sarah Elizabeth (12, grand-daughter, scholar), and Mary (8, grand-daughter, scholar).
The younger James Taylor (now 53 and unmarried) was recorded as the licensed victualler in 1871. The household included George (42, brother, unmarried, farmer and licensed victualler), Joseph (40, brother, unmarried), Elizabeth (50, sister, unmarried), Sarah (22, niece, unmarried), and Mary (18, niece, unmarried).
In 1881, James Taylor (aged 63 and unmarried) was recorded as a publican and farmer of 34 acres. His household was Elizabeth (60, sister, unmarried), George (52, brother, publican and farmer of 34 acres), Joseph (50, brother, publican and farmer of 34 acres), and Mary (28, niece, unmarried).
In 1891 James Taylor (73) and his brothers George (62) and Joseph (60) were joint licensees, publicans and farmers. Their sister, Elizabeth (70 and single) was the landlady. All three had been born in Rusholme, Manchester.
Probably around the turn of the century the farm may have been incorporated in Worsley Old Hall Farm. The Red Lion pub was sold to Boddington’s brewery around 1921. Subsequent Red Lion publicans included Thomas Wallwork, brother of Jesse, (1901), John Pope (1910), Thomas Henry Haden (1917), and Mrs Elizabeth Haden (1918-1921). Ernest William Griffiths was the publican between 1922 and 1927, and William Pendlebury was recorded as publican between 1928 and 1942.
For a contemporary reference to the Red Lion from 1871 see: Victorian Ramblers.
In 1901 the publican of the Red Lion was James Wallwork (aged 45). He lived at the Red Lion with his wife, their four daughters and an infant son.
The tradition of Walking the Bounds of the manor was carried on throughout the centuries. Before 1856, when Worsley Court House was built, the Court Leet and Court Baron of the manor were held in the Grapes Hotel in Worsley village, but on rare occasions at the Red Lion at Ellenbrook. It was the custom of the jurors of the court, once in every generation, to arrange for the boys (usually the apprentices of the estate) to be taught the boundary of the manor by walking its length, an undertaking which took two days. On those occasions a meeting of the court was held at the Red Lion, from where the walk began after breakfast. On 30th September 1802 there is an entry in the records: Order that the bounds be walked starting at the public house at Ellenbrook chapel. In September 1823: the bounds of the manor to be walked to meet at Mrs. Newton’s at the Red Lion, Ellenbrook. The walk left the Red Lion in 1856, and the Swinton Journal of 12th May 1877 reported: In accordance with the decision of the Court Leet at Worsley, the jury and officials walked the boundaries of the manor on Wednesday and Thursday last. A number of apprentices of the Bridgewater Trustees accompanied the party after partaking of breakfast at the Red Lion at Ellenbrook.
Inquests were also held in the Red Lion on sudden deaths in the neighbourhood. In 1869, for example, an inquest was held on two men killed in Mosley Common pit: James Evans, aged 28, who had two children and lived at Abbot’s Fold, and Joseph Wolstenholme, aged 55, who had six children, and lived near Ellenbrook chapel.
It was probably around the turn of the century that the Red Lion Farm ceased to be indpendent, and may have been incorporated in Worsley Old Hall Farm. Subsequent Red Lion publicans included Thomas Wallwork, brother of Jesse, (1901), John Pope (1910), Thomas Henry Haden (1917), and Mrs Elizabeth Haden (1918-1921). Ernest William Griffiths was the publican between 1922 and 1927, and William Pendlebury was recorded as publican between 1928 and 1942.
The Red Lion closed down and became a private residences known as Lion House (the original pub) and Oakmont House. Lion house was fully renovated in 2015 and Oakmont House was fully renovated and extended the following year.