York pub shut and boarded up – as plans to take another ‘more upmarket’ are revealed

The Brown Cow on Hope Street. Photograph: Gavin Aitchison

The latest Sam Smith’s pub in York to close is the Brown Cow on Hope Street.

The Victorian-era pub is boarded up and closed for business.

Owners Samuel Smith Brewery have not commented on the closure. The news emerged about a month after YorkMix revealed another pub in the group – the York Arms on High Petergate – had shut suddenly.

The brewery is advertising for new managers for both pubs.

For the York Arms, it is looking for live-in joint managers, saying it needs an “enthusiastic live-in couple to take the clientele more upmarket”.

The job ad for the Brown Cow is looking for a permanent, live-in single manager.

Historic home

The Brown Cow on Hope Street in 1974. Photograph: Hugh Murray
The Brown Cow is first mentioned in the York records as an unnamed beer house in 1834, before taking the name The Red Cow the following year.

According to Hugh Murray’s A Directory Of York Pubs, by 1838 it had a full licence and the name the Brown Cow.


It was a no-frills place, as Hugh writes:

  • In 1902 it was basically a four roomed cottage with only two bedrooms above a smoke-room and kitchen.

    There was no pantry. The family’s food was kept in the cellar.

    Food was never asked for and not even a biscuit was available to customers. The family and customers shared a single WC.

It expanded in 1906. And 50 years ago, in April 1939, it was the scene of half a darts match. The other half was held in The Ark, Maidenhead, “the two establishments linked by radio”.

2 thoughts on “York pub shut and boarded up – as plans to take another ‘more upmarket’ are revealed

  1. Sam Smiths seems to take a perverse delight in treating its landlords, buildings and customers with contempt.

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