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The Jolly Farmers Inn, Market Place, Houghton-le-Spring, formerly the Market Tavern and now known as the Spring Inn

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Houghton’s Market Place was a prime location for public houses. In fact at one time it had six, one of which was the Jolly Farmers Inn, formerly the Market Tavern, on Gilbert Street. In recent years this pub was known as the Spring Inn until its closure in early 2009, and took the address of 9 Market Place, as the surrounding properties of Gilbert Street were demolished long ago. Copyright © Books of the North 2011

The Jolly Farmers Inn, Market Place, Houghton-le-Spring, circa 1910

The Spring Inn now stands boarded up, sad and lonely and bereft of the regulars who once graced its bar. The front exterior is almost fully covered in ivy growth and the metal letters from the pub’s twin signs have fallen down. It is now hard to believe that this pub was once a hive of activity and would have been ‘alive and jumping’ with Houghtonians, visitors and showmen alike at Houghton Feast time. Copyright © Books of the North 2011

Noteworthy occurrences and/or landlords for this pub include:

1861 – George Bell, Jolly Farmers.
???? – Arthur Smith and his wife, Sarah Ann.
1894 – George Haswell, victualler and farmer, Jolly Farmers, Market Place.
1901 - John Wheatley b. 1863, publican. His son, also John, aged 18 years, worked at the Mill House sweet factory opposite.
1904 – The Jolly Farmers Inn was owned by John Wheatley, confectioner, in March 1904, his son Sidney Wheatley, 20m, died at the premises, and was buried at Hillside Cemetery.
1911 – The Jolly Farmers was occupied by John Wheatley, 48 years, inn keeper, with his wife Mary Ann Wheatley, and others. His son, Albert Wheatley, aged 19 years, worked as a sugar boiler at the Mill House sweet factory.
1930s – The showmen from the Houghton Feast fairground in the Market Place were kindly allowed to use the wash house of the Jolly Farmers Inn for water and washing.
Mid-1950s – Robert ‘Bob’ Hunter, worked for Vaux and managed the Jolly Farmer.
c1984 – The Jolly Farmers was managed by Pauline Charlton and Dave Cave.
2009 – The Spring Inn ceased trading around March 2009.
2011 – The Spring Inn, 9 Market Place, listed as for sale with a guide price of £225,000 (

This article is now out of date. To see the new version, which is updated, visit:

The Spring Inn Pub, 2011, was originally known as the Market Tavern then the Jolly Farmers Inn
The Spring Inn (Jolly Farmers) pub in summer 2011. Copyright © Books of the North 2011

Copyright © Books of the North 2011.


Article and research by Paul Lanagan, local historian

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This article is now out of date. To see the new version, which is updated, visit:

Paul Lanagan wishes to place on record his thanks to the following:

Thanks go to Chris Morrison; Craig Posmantur; Liam Brennan (for the Spring Inn’s closure date); to Mrs Lambton (for the missing R); Thomas Wilkinson (for confirming that the Market Tavern became the Jolly Farmers); Joan Hetherington and Brian Dixon.

Copyright © Books of the North 2002 - 2011.



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PAGE UPDATED: 20/05/2012

The Spring Inn Call The Spring Inn on: 0191-512-0270 Market Place Houghton le Spring Tyne and Wear DH5 8AH
Spring Inn, 9 Market Place, Houghton le Spring, DH5 8AH Public house/development land for sale with full vacant possession. Unconditional offers are invited for our clients unencumbered interest. May be suitable for redevelopment subject to gaining the appropriate local authority consents. This pub could either be converted or redeveloped into residential or mixed use accommodation. The existing use class of the property is A4 'Drinking Establishments' although planning consent is not required to change the current use to A1 (shops), A2 (financial and professional services) or A3 (restaurants and cafes).

The Market Tavern Market Place Houghton Le Spring DH5 8AH

John Wheatley M, #6369, b. 20 October 1863, d. 30 March 1930 John Wheatley|b. 20 Oct 1863\nd. 30 Mar 1930|p4814.htm|George Wheatley|b. 9 Aug 1833\nd. 11 Dec 1906|p4771.htm|Jane Findlay|b. 19 Jul 1834\nd. 23 Mar 1867|p4770.htm|William Wheatley|b. c 1804\nd. 13 Sep 1869|p4849.htm|Charlotte Barlow|b. c 1809\nd. 19 Oct 1867|p4850.htm|John Findlay|b. 12 Sep 1807\nd. 17 Apr 1872|p4633.htm|Catherine Laing|b. c 1807\nd. 13 May 1859|p4634.htm| Charts: Findlay, Alexander c1725 descendants Laing, John c1768 descendants Menmuir, Janet 1779 descendants Nicoll, Mary c1770 descendants Pert, Catherine c1750 descendants Birth*: John Wheatley was born on 20 October 1863 at Montrose, Forfarshire, Scotland, . He was the son of George Wheatley and Jane Findlay. (Member of Household) Census 1871: He was listed as a member of the household of George Wheatley in the 1871 census at 196 Overgate, Dundee, Forfarshire, Scotland, . George Wheateley, head, 42, hotel keeper, England; Joan Wheateley, wife, 25, Dundee; John Wheateley, son, 8, scholar, Montrose.1 Marriage*: John Wheatley married Mary Ann Brannan circa 1885. Census 1911*: He was listed as head of household in the 1911 census at Jolly Farmers, Houghton le Spring, Durham, England, . John Wheatley, head, 48, married, innkeeper, own account, Montrose Scotland; Mary Ann Wheatley, wife, 50, married 30 years 11 children 6 still living 5 dead, landlady, Consett Durham; Maria Prior, servant, 20, single, Haswell; findmypast [Jun 2010]; also in the household were Mary Ann Brannan, Albert Wheatley, William [Sied] Wheatley, Eva Wheatley and Norah Wheatley. Death*: John Wheatley died on 30 March 1930 at Houghton le Spring, Durham, England, , at age 66 LDS 537051 & 1235152. Burial*: He was buried on 2 April 1930 at Durham Road Cemetery, Houghton le Spring, Durham, England,
Agar, Geo. vict. Victoria Inn, Robinson St
Berry, Wm. vict. Red Lion, Church St.
Clark, Timothy, vict. Lamb Inn, Newbottle Lane
Dixon, James Turnbull, vict. White Lion and Commercial Hotel, Sunderland St.
Dixon, T, vict. Halfway House, Newbottle Lane (see below)
Fleming, Mrs A, vict. County Arms, Sunderland St.
Fletcher, Rbt, vict, Bonny Pit Lad, Newtown vFuller, Francis, vict. & threshing machine prop., Copt Hill Inn, Copt Hill
Gray, Robt. vict, Colliery Inn, Newbottle Lane
Hall, H, vict. Newcastle Arms, Newbottle Lane
Hall, Hugh, vict. Golden Lion, Sunderland St.
Harrison, Marmaduke Tomlins Parkin, vict. Cross House, Hutton Lane
Haswell, George, vict. and farmer, Jolly Farmers, Market Place
Moffitt, Wm, vict. Robbie Burns, Newbottle Lane
Patrick, Edwd, vict. Black Horse, Market Place
Pickering, William, vict. Sportsman Tavern, Newtown
Place, Wm, vict. Mill Inn, Rainton bridge
Rennoldson, Thomas, vict and farmer, Wheat Sheaf, Neasham Place
Richardson, Mrs M A, vict. Bay Horse, Sunderland St.
Rigby, T, vict, Lamton Arms, Newbottle Lane
Scott John, shopkeeper, Newbottle Lane, Halfway House (see above)
Shields, W, vict, Nag's Head, Newbottle Lane
Smith, W, beerhouse, Prince of Wales, Hopper St
Smith, William Bell, vict. Queen's Head, Sunderland Street
Smyth, Mrs Isa, vict. White Lion, Sunderland St
Turnbull, Mrs E, vict. Royal Oak, Newbottle Lane
Turnbull, William Benjamin, grocer, wine and spirit merchant, Newbottle Lane
Waller, T, vict. Ram's Head, Sunderland St vWelsh, Nrs E, beerhouse, Albert Inn, Newbottle Lane
Wheatley, G. jr., vict. Malster's Arms, Newton
Wilson, G, vict. Britannia Inn, Newbottle Lane
Wilson, Wm, vict. Black Lion, Sunderland St