Search for the Old Pubs of
Historian Fred Hughes writes....
There was a time in Longton when a John could have been turned as a trick by a trull and taken to the stew of a mackerel and lost forever.
If you’re wondering what this alarming terminology means I can tell you that it was criminal jargon commonly used in lurid Victorian crime novels called Penny Dreadful’s. And it was not uncommon to hear such language being spoken in the Longton underworld of the early 20th century.
“It was a very rough place,” former Longton policeman Pete Addison tells me.
Naturally John and Philip were innocents at the time and only heard such reports second hand. But it’s good to know that the bad reputation of the Owd ‘Ut has been confined forever to history’s recycle bin. Longton historian Alan Myott knows more about Longton’s lost pubs and the Beer-muder Triangle.
“There were three pubs in the space of a hundred yards,” he tells me. “The Owd ‘Ut was in the centre, then came the Cricketers and lastly the Shamrock. The Cricketer’s is now a pet supermarket called Animal Dreams but you can still see the sculptured sign on the beautiful stone-dressed architecture.
They just don’t make pubs like this anymore. But the Shamrock has disappeared altogether demolished for the A50, and a new building used by Sports World has been erected on the same spot. Thankfully though the Owd ‘Ut is still going strong. Owd Granddad Piggott was born here. The creator of this famous Potteries’ dialect character is Alan Povey. Alan recorded the first Granddad Piggott LP live at the Owd ‘Ut in 1977 and it has since become famous all round the world. I suppose this is Granddad Piggott’s spiritual home”
Longton is amazing. There were so many pubs in town that nearly every building has some connection with the licensing trade.
“You can still pick out the frontages,” says Potteries’ Historian Steve Birks. “Of the grander former pubs is the Earl of Clarendon. It was a huge hotel and very popular at the top end of the beer market. These days it’s a classy shopping mall shared by three distinguished retailers. But is it a tribute to the developer that the original hanging pub sign has been retained. It means you still can’t walk around Longton without passing a pub even if they are all closed.”
Now, all that remains is for former copper Pete Addison to translate the criminal vernacular for me.
“Well a trull is a prostitute, a John is a client, a stew is a brothel and a mackerel is a brothel-keeper,” explains Pete. “Of course nothing like this goes on in Longton these days.”
20 Apr 2009