Kendal – Woolpack Inn and yard
KFC Woolpack Yard/Stricklandgate, LA9 4NG.
The Woolpack Inn, situated on Stricklandgate, was rebuilt in 1791, and there is documentary evidence that there was an inn on this site from around 1695. It’s therefore one of Kendal’s oldest buildings, let alone inns. The frontage of the inn is instantly recognisable by the tall archway to the left of the main part of the building.
The arch had to be tall enough to allow stage coaches and wagons piled high with bales of wool to pass beneath, and to make their way to the warehouses that once lay beyond. The yard is today numbered as yard 56, and is now merely a thoroughfare to Booths and Marks and Spencers.
The yard, as well as warehouses, also used to contain stables, and a Scottish Presbyterian chapel, which later moved to Sandes Avenue when St John’s church was built (now demolished) There has also been a Christian Science church, a dancing school and a soup kitchen in this yard. At a later date there was also an industrial school for around 300 poor boys, employed to prepare pins for wool cards.
When the wool trade began to drift away from the town during the 19th century, the Woolpack began to deteriorate. In 1933 it was rescued by Whitwell Mark’s Brewery, and extensively refurbished. After a fire in the 1960’s the building was further updated and improved and became one of Kendal’s top hotels. It remained a hotel/public house until the late 1990’s, when it was eventually bought and developed into a fast food restaurant.
The buildings behind the inn, and down the yard have all been demolished to make way for the Elephant Yard shopping centre.
Words and photos by Matthew Emmott.
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