The Ship as it stands today was originally three separate buildings. Prior to the 1850s: the front part, facing Parkgate Parade was a house and a shop, which at one time was the post office, behind it sat “The Ship Inn” and behind that was another inn called the Black Bull (accessed by Drury Lane, the passage between the hotel and what was Mostyn House). In 1829 the Black Bull was advertised to let and then doesn’t seem to be mentioned anywhere again.
The Ship may have a much longer history, or the name at least, as it can be traced back to the mid-eighteenth century. “The Ship” as recorded in the freemasons records, was the meeting place for the Parkgate Freemason’s from 1758 until 1775 however it is unknown whether this refers to our current site or another ‘Ship’ in the area.
The first mention of the Ship, definitely in Drury Lane is in 1822 when it is variously called ‘The Ship and the Princess Royal’. The Princess Royal was a passenger-carrying ship between Parkgate and Dublin. It was built at Parkgate and was still sailing in 1809. It seems likely that, if the present Ship Inn was named after the Princess Royal, then those earlier mentions of the Inn name, before the ship was built, could be of elsewhere.
The creation of ‘The Ship’
In 1859 the Ship Inn belonged to the Parkgate Hotel Company, which rebuilt and enlarged it making all three houses into one. But the expense bankrupted the company. In 1860 a new owner reopened it as the ‘Union Hotel’ perhaps the name reflecting on the union of the original three buildings. The hotel went bankrupt again in 1865.
Around 1876 John Acton, previously at the Chester Arms became landlord. He was a keen Freemason, and from then until 1922 the freemasons met in a converted stable and coach house behind the hotel.
In the 1970s the hotel was refurbished by new owners Trust House Forte and reverted to its former name ‘The Ship’.
In the early 1990s the premises were purchased by ourselves and have been operated under our stewardship since then, adding to a long and colourful ownership.
(Contributions from Geoffrey Place of the Parkgate Society)