Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Past Watering Holes (6)

Giving directions to strangers often entails mention of landmarks: pubs, churches, shops, etc.  However pub closures, followed by change of use or demolition, has made the task of providing clear directions much more difficult.  The bewildering speed at which pub names are changed is a further trap for the unwary.

Many years ago a friend was visiting me and caught the bus from Chesterfield to Newbold.  I told him to alight at the Cross Daggers.  The pub had been demolished and replaced by a block of flats some years previously but the bus stop was known to locals, bus drivers and conductors at Cross Daggers.  My friend caught the bus and was berated by the conductor for still being on the bus after it had passed the stop!

Newbold has two pubs which face each other: the Nags Head and the Wheatsheaf.

The Nags Head sold Mansfield  Bitter.  Mansfield Brewery closed some years ago and has been demolished.  The landlord was Jack Keeton.  A character: a visit to the pub to hear him in full flow provided an evening of entertainment, quite apart from the excellent beer.

I was in the pub one evening and a young couple were sitting as far away from the bar as was possible.  They engaged in an energetic 'snogging' session. Not for long though.  Jack was over to them in a flash and enquired in a loud voice: " which position is that in the Kama Sutra?"  

Across the road from the Nags Head stands the Wheatsheaf which at one time sold the legendary Barnsley Bitter to be followed by John Smith's.  The old Wheatsheaf was demolished in 1965 to be replaced by a typical 'estate' pub.  The atmosphere created in the old pub by the 'regulars' did not transfer to the new pub.

In those days closing time was 10.30 pm with an additional ten minutes 'drinking-up' time. On Friday  evenings the local scoutmaster, resplendent in uniform including shorts would arrive between 10.25 and 10.28 and order two pints of bitter which he would down before throwing-out time at 10.40 pm. In the old pub the regulars sometimes would adjust their watches and the landlord his clock  and swear blind to the scoutmaster that he had arrived after time.

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