For his monthly column, Stephen Hughes licensee and founder of Blackburn & Darwen Pubs (Past & Present) Facebook group has put together a piece about the Revidge Run

I’m sure many readers will have fond memories of the Revidge Run, the legendary Blackburn pub crawl. Almost exactly two miles in length, it took in all of Revidge Road and Pleckgate Road, featuring the following pubs: Woodlands Hotel (free house), West View (Thwaites), Dog Inn (Bass), Corporation Park (Thwaites, later Mitchells), Sportsmans Arms (Thwaites), Royal Oak (Matthew Brown), Knowles Arms (Matthew Brown).

A popular extension of the pub crawl included the Brownhill Arms, the Rising Sun and the Bulls Head on Whalley New Road. This added just under another mile to the route.

For those revellers who were prepared to walk a bit further, the Wilpshire Hotel was another option.

Obviously, the route could be reversed and tackled from either end, dependent on where you wanted to finish off, although memories of the end of the Revidge Run are probably somewhat blurred for many who took part.

It’s also fair to say that typical of the landscape of Blackburn, you had to accept the route involved a lot of walking up or down some fairly steep hills!

Another possible detour was to take in the pubs of Dukes Brow and then head into town.

There was a choice of three pubs, the Quarrymans (also named the Duck & Puddle for a few years), the Gibraltar and the Alexandra, although these days only the latter, which was once a Matthew Brown house, is still trading.

Lancashire Telegraph:

A lasting memory of mine is spending the late evening into the early hours in the Gibraltar, on sadly its very last day as a pub in April 2010 prior to being sold and converted into a house.

Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve were arguably the most popular nights of the year for those wishing to take on the Revidge Run. There was an unofficial badge of honour that accompanied completion of this challenging pub crawl, although it could be unforgiving, with many a sore head the following day!

On these two evenings, the pavements of Revidge Road, Pleckgate Road and Whalley New Road at Brownhill would be heaving with noisy but usually good-natured drinkers travelling between the pubs.

There would be an amazing atmosphere enhanced by the festive period and fancy dress also being popular, with anything from Vikings to Nurses featuring.

The top of Revidge is exposed to the elements as anyone who knows that location will be aware and the East Lancashire weather can be unforgiving, especially in December, but this never seemed to put people off.

I remember it being particularly cold and wet at times, typically on those occasions when you discovered the pub you had reached was full and the door closed!

Due to the sheer numbers of people taking part, getting into some of the pubs could be difficult, especially the smaller ones and another challenge, once you were in, was getting served at the bar.

I recall waiting for the doors of the Knowles Arms to reopen when it was one in, one out and being faced with a wall of people between me and the bar, when I eventually got inside- and this was one of the largest venues.

Lancashire Telegraph:

The locals sat at their regular seats in some of the pubs would look rather bemused with the large number of visitors and new faces passing through the doors.

A lasting memory of mine was at the Rising Sun one Christmas Eve when it was invaded by rather lively 18 to 20-year-olds taking part in the pub crawl, me being one of them.

An excellent pub that was run by the well respected Blackburn licensee Geoff Sutcliffe for many years, but back then perhaps not normally known for its abundance of younger customers. Thirty years on, I’m far more appreciative of such fine establishments, especially with their ever diminishing numbers.

There would be impromptu taxi ranks outside some of the pubs with larger car parks for those who decided they wanted to travel into town to finish off the evening at one of the nightclubs there.

A possible dilemma was deciding whether you were dressed appropriately for the doormen to let you in to your club of choice, as dress code was often rigidly enforced back then.

A polo shirt was not classed as a shirt and black jeans were not acceptable in place of smart trousers I had learnt the hard way after being turned away!

Had anyone suggested in the late 1990s that the Revidge Run would be all but gone within a decade or so, they would have been looked at with much disbelief. However, gone it was by around 2010, with only the West View soldiering on until early 2014.

This means that anyone reading who is under the age of 30 typically won’t have ever experienced a full Revidge Run and probably wonder what us “older ones” are reminiscing about!

The first pub to close was the Corporation Park at the highest point on Revidge Road, subsequently leaving a long walk between the Dog Inn and the Sportsmans Arms.

The Corporation Park had survived the Millennium but closed soon after. This one-time Thwaites owned pub was one of those that the former Blackburn based brewery sold to the now defunct Mitchells of Lancaster Brewery in the early 1990s. In 1980, it had suffered a serious fire and the three-storey building became two storeys, after the top floor was removed during the rebuilding.

The landlord at this time was the well-respected Ken Sharrock, who held the reins of the pub between 1971 and 1991 when he retired from the trade. Many readers will also no doubt remember the very talented Bert on the piano whose surname escapes me.

The loss of the Corporation Park in the early part of the “noughties” resulted in a longer walk without any liquid refreshment between the Dog Inn and the Sportsmans Arms. This was the start of the demise of the Revidge Run.

A few years after the Corporation Park had permanently closed its doors and was boarded up (and stood disused for the best part of two decades before residential conversion), the writing was on the wall for the Sportsmans Arms and the Dog Inn.

The latter, prior to becoming a pub was actually called Tean Barn Farm, being very close to the old Leamington Street Blackburn Rovers ground, prior to their relocation to Ewood in 1890.

It was a former Bass house, but had been sold to the pub company Enterprise Inns and then closed around 2006, before being refurbished and losing most of its former character.

Despite the new signage on the exterior of the pub promoting “Noted Ales & Stouts” the refurbishment was not a success and the pub was soon closed again, permanently this time, and put up for sale in 2009.

It was involved in controversy in 2011 when a historic sign on the side of the building was badly damaged in an attempt to obliterate it.

The next pub to be lost was the Thwaites owned Sportsmans Arms at Four Lane Ends, which had seen several different landlords come and go in the years leading up to its closure. The pub was put up for sale and closed in November 2009.

In a twist of fate though, it reopened the following month with a new licensee and a spokesman from Thwaites told the Lancashire Telegraph at the time that “the pub would be open on a permanent basis and not just over Christmas”. Despite this statement, in January 2010 the pub closed its doors for the final time and was eventually sold and converted for restaurant use.

The following year, in October 2011, the Woodlands Hotel closed, an imposing building on Preston New Road which had been a popular starting or finishing point for the Revidge Run. In February 2014 the West View closed, with Thwaites removing all of the signage and its traditional pub lantern and putting the property up for sale.

This was the last pub to have remained open on Revidge Road, so its closure was quite a milestone, especially in the history of what was arguably once Blackburn’s best known pub crawl.

Although the first five pubs counting from (and including) the Woodlands Hotel have all been lost, more positively the Royal Oak is doing very well again after a couple of periods of closure a few years ago, the Knowles Arms remains open in restaurant use and the Brownhill Arms, the Rising Sun and the Wilpshire Hotel continue to be popular community pubs. Sadly the Bulls Head, a large former Whitbread house which was latterly owned by Enterprise Inns, closed in early 2014 and was then converted into a local branch of the Co-op, opening in October 2017.

The Woodlands Hotel after a decade of closure has recently reopened as a restaurant, following extensive refurbishment and building works, and looks very smart again.

Remembering those lost pubs and here’s raising a large glass to some great memories of the legendary Revidge Run, the publicans and their staff and all who took part and made history!

Did you ever complete the Revidge Run? What are your memories of this great Blackburn institution? Email