THIS iconic coaching inn is situated on what was the turnpike from Chester to Manchester, before that it was the Roman road known as Watling Street.

As can be seen in the old photo showing the road, it was once a relatively quiet main road. In the matching photo taken in 2014, it is now an extremely busy dual carriageway, still known as Chester Road but better known as the A556.

Northwich Guardian:

The Smoker in the 1900s shows the quiet Roman road which ran past

It first opened in 1597, and the old painting illustrates what it once looked like. When it opened, it was also a farm and later a blacksmiths. This makes the pub around 400 years old, and through those years it has been tastefully modernised, retaining the original antiquity, again, as illustrated in the old and new photographs.

In 1865 the landlord of the Smoker Inn was John Newton and working from the premises was Thomas Newton, who was the blacksmith.

Northwich Guardian:

The scene is somewhat busier now, with the A556 Chester Road outside the pub's door

The name Smoker doesn't refer to the dreaded weed but a racehorse of that name owned by the first Lord de Tabley of nearby Tabley Hall. The noble Lord raised the Cheshire Yeomanry when the threat of invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte drew near. The horse itself was bred by the Prince Regent as a racehorse and won 12 of his 19 races during the late 16th century. The Smoker is the only pub with that name in Great Britain.

In the more modern photo taken in 2011, the roof is being re-thatched, and then in 2018, the pub restaurant had a £750,000 refurbishment. It is Grade II listed and has been exceptionally well refurbished with superb, well-reviewed food and drink to complement this. Plumley itself is a small village with a railway station on the Chester Manchester line.

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Now controlled by traffic lights, the junction with Plumley Moor Road at the side of the pub is no longer an accident blackspot and the pub itself has a large car park.