Throughout most of the pub's history, a customer would have come in, sat down and a serving person would have asked them what they wanted. She or he would then fetch the required drink from the Tap Room. Until the late-nineteenth century, the concept of a customer standing at a counter and asking for a drink did not exist.

In the late 1870s (some sources say 1876 while others say 1878) Fred Harvey (1835-1901), an English immigrant to the USA gained the franchise for serving food and drink to the Aitcheson Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in America. Concerned about his serving girls being molested by the rough travellers of the Wild West, he put up planks on barrels as a bar to act as a physical barrier between the customers and serving girls, who now stood behind the bar and served the customers directly. Soon the crude plank and barrel Bar was developed into a solid serving counter with brass poles on top to support shelves where clean glasses were stored while food plates were placed on top of the Bar. As a result, the trains were speeded up because stops could be shorter and the "Harvey Girls" became synonymous with morally upright, pure living, serving girls.

The public serving barWe're not sure exactly how it happened but word got back to Whitby about this revolution in service such that when The Black Horse Inn was refurbished in the 1880s the front room had new frosted glass windows with the word 'BAR' emblazoned upon them; and inside, the town's and probably one of Europe's very first bars.

There is strong evidence to show, that despite numerous repairs, the bar in the front room of The Black Horse is essentially the very same bar that was installed in the 1880s. As such it is an awesome prospect to stand at that bar and consider as you drink, the long and distinguished list of people who have almost certainly stood there before you and been served at that very same bar.