(also known as the Sportsman's and the the Top Brink)


Tucked away, just off the main road in the hamlet of Lumbutts, is the inn that is now called the Top Brink, but in earlier times it was known first as the Sportsman's and then the Dog and Partridge. The inn sign would more than likely have depicted a man with a gun, and a dog with a bird in its mouth, which to most folk who couldn't read, would have been interpreted as a sportsman, hence the name.

In 1822, John Mitton was the landlord and by 1825 he was replaced by Elizabeth Mitton, so he may have died and his widow took over for a time. It was whilst the Mittons were at the pub, which was also a farm at that time, that work was being done by some Todmorden masons and labourers on rebuilding a nearby barn and other work which needed doing. They provided themselves with food for the day, apart from breakfast, which Mrs. Mitton would make for them.

One of the workers had a sken or cross-eye and was wont to play practical jokes and in general be a contrary sort of fellow. The other men took it all in good part, being of the opinion that he couldn't help it as he was "a limb of the devil" and it had to come out in some form or other. One morning, after Mrs. Mitton had ladled out the porridge into the various bowls, he failed to appear. On overhearing the workmen say that he was about some work or other, Mrs. Mitton voiced her opinion that if God marked anyone, be it animal or human, in any way, you should beware of it and take heed. She went on to say that she once owned a cow with a sken and a more contrary and mischievous beast she had never come across. Just like the labourer. As she spoke, he appeared, full of smiles and good humour, and ate his porridge with relish.

A few years after this incident, one the masons who had been employed on that particular job, was inclined to agree with her when things went wrong, but he said that the chap with the sken was a good worker and was no doubt showing off a bit as working in a dull rural place such as Lumbutts needed a bit of jollity to liven the neighbourhood a little and the man with the sken provided it. It no doubt gave the villagers plenty to talk about for months to come.


Young Uttley was the next landlord. He was a local chap and began his working life at Lumbutts as a grocer like his two brothers, Abraham and Thomas. They were the children of Abraham and Sally of Lee in Langfield and their sister Hannah went on to marry William Bayes, whose son, Alfred Bayes was to become a renowned artist. You can read his story HERE

Young, along with his brothers Abraham and Thomas, went into the cotton spinning business. By 1833 Young Uttley had become the innkeeper at the Dog and Partridge whilst still keeping his interest in the cotton spinning side of affairs. He died before 1841 and his wife Sarah took over as landlady. Sarah was the sister of Dr. Gledhill, the well-known Todmorden practitioner, and married Young Uttley in 1821. Sarah, her son Gledhill and daughter Ellen, carried on the trade at the pub after Young's death, helped by a servant, Sarah Ann Sutcliffe.

Gledhill Uttley was the named as the innkeeper in 1845 but he was also involved in the family spinning business run by his uncles Abraham and Thomas Uttley, becoming bookkeeper there. By the mid 1840's, after the death of Thomas, Messrs. Uttley Bros. of Lumbutts sold Jumb Mill along with the dams, machinery and other equipment to John Fielden of Centre Vale.


The bridleway

The Uttleys had left the pub by 1851 and a local man, William Greenwood, had taken over. William had previously kept a beer house at Jack Lee Gate, which is where he was in 1841. The majority of the trade at the pub in those days would have been from the surrounding farms such as Black Dyke and Top of Brink, plus the mill workers who inhabited the cottages in the village. Passing trade from travellers would also account for quite a bit of business and would have been welcome break on the long moorland road. A short cut up to the pub from Lumbutts is by a steep lane, nowadays used as a bridleway.


William Greenwood and his family of 3 daughters and two sons ranging from 12 down to 2 moved from the beer house to the Dog and Partridge, which is how the inn was recorded at this time. William's brother Joseph was also living with them and worked as a shepherd.

By 1861, the Greenwoods had given up the pub and the Smith family had become the new landlords. John Smith and his wife Betty, who hailed from Walsden, helped by their daughter Elizabeth, ran the pub and also farmed 13 acres.

John, who was not a young man, being born in 1800, would not have found it an easy life especially in the harsh winters which can affect this isolated area. A glance at this photo taken in the 1940's shows how bad conditions can be.

photo by kind permission of Roger Birch


John's wife died in 1868 and their daughter Elizabeth then took over the running of the pub, giving her father a well earned retirement. John died not many years after his wife in 1873 at the age of 73. They are buried together in the graveyard at Mankinholes Chapel.


During the Smiths time at the pub, one Inquest held there was particularly heartbreaking. It concerned the tragic drowning of a small toddler.

John William Hirst was the youngest son of Joseph and Grace Hirst of Carr Green and on the evening of the 13th of April 1863 he had gone to play outside their house. He was only 3, and when it got past the time when he should have been inside, it was found that he must have wandered off. Maybe his mother had taken her eye off him for a time, and had not missed his disappearance.

Carr Green


There were two other young children in the family 2 year old Mary and 5-year-old James, so Grace may have had her hands full with them. As soon as his disappearance was discovered, the alarm was raised and the family and neighbours immediately organised a search, but even though they searched all through the night it wasn't until the morning that the poor little mite's lifeless body was found face down, in a Clough nearby.

The Clough runs up the right hand side of the road leading to Horsewood Farm and its sides are quite steep, especially to a toddler of only 3. It is also overgrown and in parts is invisible. If he had fallen in he wouldn't have stood a chance of surviving the night and would have been hard to find in the dark.

If it had been raining, the Clough would have been running full, but even without much rain there would have been enough water for a small child to drown in.


The inquest, held a week later, returned the verdict of accidental drowning. He was buried at Mankinholes Chapel.


Henry and Elizabeth Spencer were the next keepers of the Dog and Partridge, having taken over by 1881. Henry's family were farmers at High Greave in Wadsworth and Henry returned to farming after he left the Dog and Partridge. It was during Henry's time, on the 21st of August 1883, that the Dog and Partridge and 4,185 yards of adjoining land were sold at auction at the White Hart for £850. Mr. J. H. Ogden of Charlestown was the purchaser.

At the time, the provision of food had become a necessity for inns to provide if they wanted custom, and it seemed particularly good at the Dog and Partridge. Ham and eggs could be rustled up at any time.


The Lumbutts Friendly Society, along with various other societies, used to hold meetings at the pub, but in March 1884 they held their last meeting. The members had decided to wind up the society. Their lodge property at Wellfield Terrace, Todmorden, had been sold and members were given £8-19s-9d. The Society had been in existence from at least 1796 when Ingham Hollinrake was its head.

In 1889 Martin Jackson had become the new landlord, taking over from Young Lord, about whom little is recorded. Martin was the son of lock keeper Zachariah and his mother, Susan Mitchell, was the daughter of Ogden Mitchell of the Sun Inn at Walsden. Martin's three sisters, Betty, Mary and Alice were all involved in the licensed trade; Betty at the Bird in Hand, Warland, Mary at the Woodcock, Warland, and Alice at the Rose and Crown at Castle.


Longlees Lock House

Martin began his working life by taking over from his father at Longlees lock as the lock keeper. He married Alice Bulcock and he and his young family of Betsy, Frank and Herbert moved to Langfield shortly after their marriage in 1883 and later to the Dog and Partridge in 1889.

Alice was the daughter of James and Betty and had lived at Cornholme, but moved to Old Lane with her widowed mother just before her marriage. Martin and his family stayed at the Dog and Partridge until after 1891 but moved to live with Martin's sister Betty at the Bird in Hand at Warland in later years.

When the Jacksons took over, the valuation of the premises and stock stood at £105-1s-4d. This included the dog kennel, which was under a seat in the taproom. The pub had nine rooms and it seems from the stock that the customer was well catered for with cigars and champagne listed. Not the usual fare you would expect at a village inn in those days. How it had grown from the small pub it had started as into a thriving business that provided employment for all the family.

The next people to inhabit the Dog and Partridge were Richard Mills and his wife Susy. Richard was the son of Thomas and Sarah of Gut Royd. Thomas was a handloom weaver, but by 1861 he had left the trade and become a stonebreaker and then a baker in the village of Lumbutts. By 1881 he and his wife had moved to Dulesgate and were living with their married daughter Jane and her husband John Fielden.

Their youngest daughter, Caroline, married James Lord of the Black Horse at Butcher Hill, and by 1891 Thomas and his wife Sarah, daughter Jane and son-in-law John Fielden were living next door to them in Butcher hill. Thomas was now 77 and was still working as a stone getter. He died in 1893; a year after his wife Sarah, and they are both buried at Cross Stone in the old yard.

Richard Mills, their son, was born around 1848 and stayed in Lumbutts working in the cotton mill for most of his early years. He married and by 1891 he and his wife Susy along with their children were at the Dog and Partridge. Unfortunately, Richard's life was cut short in August 1898 when he developed inflammation of the lungs and died as a result. His wife had died in 1895 and both are buried in the graveyard at Lumbutts Chapel.

James Hirst had taken over by 1901 after a brief spell by Richard Hargreaves. James married Hannah Barker daughter of John and Sarah, and she and James started married life living with Hannah's widowed mother at Castle Street and later moved to Every Street. James was a cotton weaver and it seems a keen gardener and horticulturist, as in the September of 1901 he and few friends of like mind held the first flower and vegetable show at the Dog and Partridge. There were 27 entries and a remarkable 349 people paid to see the show. Two local luminaries, James Lacy and William Austwick, judged the entries.


William Austwick was the gardener at Stoney Royd, so he was well equipped to be one of the judges. Tragically, in June of 1902 his body was found in the Catholes Dam and it was presumed he had committed suicide. He was buried at Cross Stone.

A couple of later landlords were John Arthur Blackburn in 1908 and John Minnis in 1922. Whilst Mr. Blackburn was the licensee, Lumbutts Fair was held at the Dog and Partridge, a custom begun in 1838 when a fair was held to celebrate the annual rush bearing. Rush bearing is when fresh new rushes are placed on the floor of the church for the coming winter. It heralds the start of the new church year and is usually accompanied by much jollity and a holiday atmosphere. Some mealy mouthed people tried to ban it in many places in the late 19th century on account of it degenerating into a drunken and lecherous event. It has seen a revival in recent years in many villages in the area.

So as we come to the present day, the name has changed to being the Top Brink but the tradition of serving good food for the hungry traveller still survives.


A pleasant spot in summer and still managing to retain some of the atmosphere of its past life whilst making progress into the 21st. century.