History of The Smiths Arms

The Smiths Arms sits at the heart of the tiny hamlet of Beckwithshaw on the old turnpike road from Otley to Killinghall, an 18th century North Yorkshire inn of honey-coloured sandstone, one of the oldest buildings in the village. The pub’s name comes from the terms of its original tenancy: the landlord was also the village blacksmith and, along with a duty to keep the horses and equipment from nearby Moor Park manor in good condition, he also served the local community and travellers on the busy coach route.

Before the National School was built in 1865, funded by the philanthropic owner of Moor Park, James Bray, the upper floor of The Smiths Arms doubled as a school room for the children of the village. The well-worn external steps still visible today allowed children to reach the school room without venturing into the inn.

Once within a royal park of the Forest of Knaresborough, Beckwithshaw village dates back to medieval times, although even by 1871 consisted of a small cluster of buildings and scattered farmsteads. The village stands on the old Dudley Hill to Killinghall turnpike road through Otley and was a toll-bar on the turnpike, where a fee would be levied on travellers.

West of Beckwithshaw lies the ancient landscape of Haverah Park, where the woodland valleys and tranquil reservoirs are popular with walkers. The Harrogate Link trail passes through the area en route to join the Dales Way at Ilkley, taking in the ruins of John O’Gaunt’s Castle. This atmospheric site is believed to have been built in the 13th century, possibly as a hunting lodge or small fort. Occupying a prominent position, it offers scenic views across the Washburn Valley where Red Kites now roam the skies again. The valley’s reservoirs, Swinsty and Fewston, mark the southern edge of stunning Nidderdale, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty stretching north along the borders of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

In complete contrast, just three miles east of The Smiths Arms is the splendid Georgian spa town of Harrogate, where tree-lined boulevards open up to reveal the architectural delights of the Victorian Grade II listed Royal Pump Room Museum, the spectacular interiors of the Harrogate Royal Baths, and the dazzling floral displays of Valley Gardens.

Set in the heart of Yorkshire, Harrogate District is one of the most beautiful areas of England, with its imposing historic houses, castles, abbeys, delightful villages, breath-taking countryside and exquisite gardens and parks, such as the RHS Gardens at Harlow Carr, less than 5 minutes drive from The Smiths Arms at Beckwithshaw.

After a day spent exploring the North Yorkshire countryside or enjoying the delights of Harrogate, The Smiths Arms is a welcome retreat for a leisurely pub meal with family and friends, or a delicious Sunday lunch in a fine 18th century inn. A superb location for trips to Nidderdale and the Washburn Valley, fortified with a seasonal special from our extensive menu, including fine wines and cask ales.

Directions to Smiths Arms

You can find The Smiths Arms opposite St Michael and All Angels Church on Otley Road at Beckwithshaw. For satnavs,  use the postcode HG3 1QW.