All the pubs had their own character and clientele. 'The Spread Eagle' catered for the lively Saturday night crowd out looking for a good time. It was well known as a meeting place for the opposite sexes. 'The King's Arms' on the opposite side of the road was always full of railway workers.These two and the two stations were demolished to make way for the M62 motorway which clipped the very top edge of the village. 'The New Inn', still prospering today, catered for the outer edge of the village where all the new houses had been built... a cut above the rest! The other still remaining pub is 'The Old Griffin Head'. This was frequented by the cricket team (until they built their own clubhouse - that's another drinking establishment to add to the list.) and had the dubious distinction of being the centre of a wife swapping scandal that engulfed and transfixed the village. In my day the publican was one Harold Williamson who had played for Leeds United Football Club and Wales. We soon worked out that if we wanted a 'late 'un', all we had to do was get him on the topic of football. Off he would go upstairs and bring down his treasured number 10 football shirt that he had swapped with the great Pele himself after an international match versus Brazil at Ninian Park....we knew we were OK for a very pleasant hour or two.
That leaves 'the' village pub - 'The Junction Inn'. Situated next to the village green, it was the epicentre of village life. It's most famous landlord was called Dave Bennett. Known simply as 'Bennett', he was an ex rugby league player. He was a legendary figure in village folklore and it was a sad day when he retired. You could get anything at the 'Junkie' from fresh caught rabbits to ancient motor bikes. The men gathered in the 'tap oile' to drink and play 'dommies' (dominoes) until their womenfolk turned up later when they had to retire t'lounge to get a babycham for their loved one! The language in the tap oile was colourful to say the least but in the lounge there was never any swearing. Of course no woman would ever venture into the tap oile back then! It was a rite of passage really. You started at fifteen up at the King's Arms. Nobody knew you up there so you could get away with being underage. It was the same with the New Inn, but you had to be eighteen before you dare risk the Junkie - everybody's dad drank in there. It has now closed down along with so many other bastions of village life. As you go through villages today it is depressing to see so many wonderful buildings derelict and boarded up - the heart of a village now abandoned and all those memories gone. There are many reasons for this decline but it is still so sad. I live in the small village of Sewerby and we are very fortunate that we have a thriving pub - 'The Ship Inn'. I painted it once and we have even held art workshops there - a great experience. So if you've got a pub in you village - appreciate it and ....use it. Cheers!