Search for the Old Pubs of
Historian Fred Hughes writes....
“There’s no doubt that Longton was the Potteries’ capital of public houses,” local historian Alan Myatt assures me.
“And if it wasn’t a pub it was some other place to hide away and hatch out conspiracies. One in Bath’s Passage was known as the ‘Bomb and Dagger.’ Its proper name was the City Tea Rooms where unemployed men would sit for as long as possible making their drinks last. It seems to have been a place frequented by Longton’s Irish. Rumour had it they were planning insurrection and that’s why it got its nickname.”
Whatever the reason often names were given to pubs with the most far-flung connections.
“Although the Clarendon was a big pub with a big name most people knew it as The Clock,” he says “Mind you it had nothing to do with time; it was just that the landlord’s name was Hickory. Now that’s typical Potteries’ humour.”
Another Longton historian Alan Mansell has a complete record of every pub that stood in Longton. A member of the Potteries Pubs Preservation Group he tells me that it’s not always possible to decipher fact from fable.
But who can say after all these years, I wonder.
“That’s the task I’ve set myself,” says Alan producing a huge file of photographs. “I’ve gone all through Longton cataloguing all the Victorian pubs that are still standing. I have photographed them and put them alongside a contemporary image of when they were open as a pub. Sometimes I’ve found just a piece of spare land or where a new building has replaced it. But I’ve been surprised to find so many in alternative uses. It provides a wonderful picture of another age that we can still see.”
Alan has produced a unique album of a long-forgotten Longton. For instant the Blue Bells of Scotland and the Roebuck Hotel are still standing in Caroline Street having been closed as pubs many years ago and found use in other retail trades.
It seems chapels and pubs were the preferred community centres then.
Longton’s most prominent public house is the Crown Hotel.
“Now that was something to talk about when it was built,” says Alan. “It was described in trade directories as a favourite rendezvous of commercial gentlemen and Americans and feted as popular with families. Originally named the Crown and Anchor it was built in 1887 on the site of another long forgotten pub, the White Horse. One popular landlord here was four times Longton Mayor George Bennion.”
Good pubs and bad, we still love them. Perhaps a few lines from Staffordshire poet Reginald Twemlow sum up Longton pubs best:
‘At first the name may cause a stagger
27 Apr 2009