Sunday, 21 August 2011
The Wellington, Glover's Court, Preston
After several years spent in and around the pubs of Preston I like to think I have got to grips with the nightlife here; where to get a good pint of ale or watch a match and which places to avoid at all costs.
To me walking down a high street and knowing where everything is, shops, pubs or the Post Office, is the mark of knowing a place.
But a recent conversation with an 87-year-old gentleman called Bob Lang, who has lived here all his life, made me realise my ‘local knowledge’ was barely a superficial scratch on the surface.
“I’m off to the Wellington”, I said.
“I used to drink in their on leave during the war.
“As you walked in there was a little bar on the right, it was only four-feet wide and the landlord would sit there and take the money from the customers while his wife was rushing around the place.
“It was a good place with a homely atmosphere, it was not a regular town pub in those days.
“There were houses all around and no flats, so there were lots of local people going in.”
Today, the pub Bob frequented while on leave from the Merchant Navy, cannot rely on bringing in local residents, partly because many of the streets which clustered nearby have gone.
Now discount drinks offers like pitchers of cocktails for £6.50 adorn the walls and an impressively sized juke box draws in the hordes for pre-club drinks, or a Saturday night stop-off.
But while the core of its clientele has changed, from the description Bob gave me, the pub’s layout may not be so different.
On many a night out I have found myself sitting in the small tap room at the front keeping out of the way of the crowd, warming myself in front of the open fire during the winter months.
In fact, viewed in this light the whole pub seems to hang pleasingly onto its traditional character.
You might not have had bonanza Tequila offers or such like during Bob’s day, but I imagine if he was to walk back in today, there would be enough of the old place to evoke a few happy memories of wartime comradeship and battles to beat the American GIs to the bar.