Welcome to the Miltons Tap. Previously known as Miltons Head. The only alehouse left on the pedestrianised Spring Gardens shopping street, it now caters for both locals and visitors all year round.
Spring Gardens runs along the route of the 1759 turnpike (and pre-existing route) to and from Sheffield. In 1773 the road was called Tideswell Lane, then by 1847 known as Sheffield Road. In the 19th century at least parts of it were sometimes referred to as Town Street and Bakewell Road. The name Spring Gardens appears to have been first coined in the 1830s as the name for the whole street, it having been built over a spring. It was the main road for through traffic until it was pedestrianised in the 1990s and Station Road was constructed as a relief ring road.
The Miltons (yes, no apostrophe!) is a traditional pub of three rooms and despite a recent refurbishment has retained its lovely, small, wood-panelled room at the front. It has a long history of being a working class drinking establishment, in the past catering for railway workers in particular. Train drivers and guards used to pop over from the Buxton train station to the Miltons for a drink, before taking trains back to Manchester Piccadilly.
On the outside front wall there is a fire plaque from many moons ago. The story goes that this showed that the landlord had paid the fire tax and that if the building went up in flames the firemen would come and attempt to put the fire out. It seems that if you had not paid the fire tax and put up your fire seal, the fire service had no obligation to help you!
There is a debate amongst locals in the know about whether or not the Miltons once acted as Buxton’s first police station. Some say no, but others stress that the vaulted cellars look as though they could have once been very effective cells. This all obviously has nothing to do with the fact that, a few years ago (but in the lifetime of some locals I have spoken to), the Miltons was nicknamed the ‘blood tub’, because there were so many fights there at weekends.
Miltons Tap is named after the 17th century poet, John Milton.
Milton lived from 1608 to 1674 and is best known for his enormous, epic poem Paradise Lost. He was passionate about politics and a republican who was opposed to having a monarchy. Milton was a Christian but advocated abolishing the Church of England. He believed in rule by merit, rather than rule by birth and campaigned for freedom of speech and of the press. In fact he was quite a radical, a left winger of his time.
Milton had a tragic life. In 1652, aged 43 years, he became completely blind in both eyes. In the same year his first wife died, three days after giving birth to their fourth child, and six weeks later his third child and only son passed away. Six year after that Milton’s second wife died, 4 months after giving birth, and their baby died too.
Milton continued to write after he lost his sight and Paradise Lost was first published 15 years later in 1667.