Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Inn Signs - The Drunken Duck

I took this photo in the early 1960s - 
it is scanned in from a 50+ year old transparency.

The Drunken Duck is the inn which probably started me off being interested in inn signs.  In 1960 when I was about 11 years old my (honorary) Uncle Phil told me the story of the naming of this pub between Ambleside and Hawkshead in the Lake District in Cumbria.  It is one of the best-known incident-type pub names.

Drunken Duck Inn - picture from their website

The name dates back to Victorian times when the landlord's wife found one (or more) of her ducks lying stretched out in the road and concluded that it was (or they were) dead.  Thriftily she began to pluck and prepare it for dinner. The duck, however, was not dead.  Down in the cellar a barrel had slipped its hoops and beer had gradually drained from the floor into the grain in the ducks' customary feeding ditch. Thereupon the duck made good use of its unexpected opportunity, with the result that when it came to it not only had a hangover but found itself plucked and halfway to the oven.

Hawkshead supplied raw flax and linen yarn to Kendal for its linsey-woollen trade and according to local legend, the landlady, full of remorse for the rough treatment, provided the de-feathered bird with a knitted waistcoat of Hawkshead yarn until its feathers grew back again.


  1. What a great story! Will have to tell my son about the drunken duck! Your eleven year old self taking photos of a pub sign. I wonder if you could imagine your photo would be shared all over the world wide Web!

  2. What a story! Now i will wonder if ducks would actually eat feed that had been soaked in spirits of some kind, or if the taste would put them off. There are some animals that eat overripe fruit and get a bit "happy" on it, so it may well have happened.

  3. Aaaw poor little duckie! What a rude awakening!

  4. Oh, poor little duck! was my reaction too (just like Meike, I noticed when reading the other comments) I hope the landlady kept making it up to him/her for the rest of its life!!! :)

  5. I'm sorry but my first reaction was to think of the duck waking up and wondering whether it had a headache.


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