The Mystery of the Old White Bear Inn

The Old White Bear Inn

The Old White Bear Inn, Cross Hills (Courtesy of Paul Taylor)

“Any idea who this is?” Paul asked as he handed me a postcard sized photograph, showing “The Old White Bear Inn”, fronted by three women in long black dresses and a chap with a flat cap and luxuriant moustache. The photograph had been collected by Paul’s grandfather (and my great-uncle) Albert Taylor, and was one of several we were eagerly examining for any gems. We could see that the inn-keeper’s name was Edward Salter and we knew that Albert had an uncle by that name, but there was no indication that this was the same person. It could have been someone else – the photo just kept for the amusing coincidence of the name.

Having promised to see if I could find any answer, I first tried to Google “Old White Bear” and discovered there are lots of them. But how could I trim the list down?

Well, if there was a connection to our Edward Salter, maybe his details could give me a clue. Born in Crewe in 1870, I’d last found him on the 1901 census, when he was working on the railway and living in Skipton. I had no knowledge of him doing anything else, which was why I was slightly dubious that the Inn was anything to do with him. But I decided to add “Skipton” to the search terms, clicked on the first web-site in the list, and saw a familiar building, with the same arrangement of door and windows. Apparently it’s now the “Old White Bear”, on Keighley Road, Cross Hills, near Keighley.

So this gave me the identity of the Inn, which is described on its web-site as “the oldest building in the village of Cross Hills … built in 1735. It has previously been a hotel, a brothel, a council meeting place and a dance hall.” Real-ale enthusiasts like myself might be interested to know that “It has been the site for Goose Eye, White Bear and Naylors breweries”.

But this still didn’t help me find out whether the inn-keeper was our Edward. If it was him, it surely had to be after 1901, when he was a few miles up the road in Skipton working on the railway. Historical Directories didn’t seem to have anything for that area and timescale.

I still couldn’t find him in the 1911 census, so switched to looking outside the UK – and there, arriving at Ellis Island, New York, on 15 April 1910, on the Lusitania, were Edward and Sarah Salter. According to the form, this Edward was born in Crewe, England (match) and was aged 40 (match). Cheshire BMD confirms that only one Edward Salter was born in all Cheshire between 1860 and 1880, so mine and the New York arrival had to be the same person.

The Old White Bear Inn, probably the landlord and staff

The Old White Bear Inn, probably Edward and Sarah Salter and staff (courtesy of Paul Taylor)

But in addition, the New York arrival gave his job as a hotel-keeper and said that his last permanent residence in the UK was in Cross Hills. Now, the likelihood of the village of Cross Hills having two hotel or inn-keepers named Edward Salter in the era that the photo and the form clearly belonged to (end of the nineteenth, beginning of the twentieth century) seems insignificantly small to me, so I feel pretty justified in saying that my Edward Salter really was the one running the Old White Bear in Cross Hills when that photograph was taken – so that’s probably him, with his wife, proudly leaning on the wall.

Edward Salter in the USA

I’ve not followed his life in the USA yet, but it looks like he was heading for Los Angeles, California. He was running a grocery store in Huntington Beach in 1928 (California Voter Registrations, 1900-1968) and died in the Los Angeles area on 12 February 1941 (California Death Index, 1940-1997). His wife, the former Sarah Horsfall, died in Orange County on 14 May 1953. So far as I can see, Edward and Sarah never had any children but by the 1920 census, they had been joined in California by two of Sarah’s nieces, Lillie and Ivy Horsfall.

Some learning points

  • When searching for a pub or inn, omit “Inn” from the search, as it may have lost that word from its title.
  • Sometimes, when they’re not in the census, it’s because they’re not in the country.
  • Ellis Island forms can hold a lot of precise data to enable identification. Records for arrivals from 1892 to 1924 can be accessed for free on
  • American censuses are released after only 72 years so the 1920 and 1930 censuses can be seen.

Thanks to Paul Taylor for the loan of the photograph


About brucefuimus

Retired IT professional; family historian and mathematician by training.
This entry was posted in Family history, Salter. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Mystery of the Old White Bear Inn

  1. Walter says:

    Hi Bruce, good to see you found your old white bear inn, i am looking for the old white bear inn in hounslow which james fish ran 1800 onwards, cant find old pivpcs of the inn
    U r right many white bear innif you have found any white bear pics in hounslow would be very delighted if you can send to


    • brucefuimus says:

      Sorry – didn’t find any that far away. Have you tried Google? That’s how I worked out where my Old White Bear was. I guess you’re looking for old photos, though, and that may be a different thing – in the end I found several current photos of mine but I don’t think I found one from earlier.


      • Walter says:

        Thx Adrian,
        I have searched archives and local history library in hounslow and endless google searches for the last yr – no old photos of the white bear in london rd hounslow
        I do have a photo 1962 just before demolition
        See for the photo

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