IT was heartening to see smoke curl once again from the chimneys of Blackpool’s oldest pub, the Saddle Inn, on the corner of our road in Great Marton, by Whitegate Drive.
Cheering coals are lit again in those snug rooms, as autumn blasts in with rain and gales.
The popular hostelry also has a new landlord, Alistair. The fortunate man inherits an efficient, friendly team after previous manager, Andy, oversaw much-needed refurbishment.
Andy is off to his own local, the Victoria Hotel, Church Road, St. Annes – another landmark local so loved from the past it was saved from closure by nearby residents.
I remember the ‘Vic’ from the late 1970s, when living in St Annes, and legendary landlord ‘Eff-ing’ Norman – who would warn others about their language, while remaining unaware of his own. Its many rooms back then had pale-green emulsion, like a hospital ward, and high ceilings lit by a naked bulb. Still, regulars gave it a certain character – along with Boddingtons in its heyday.
The Saddle, too, can boast its characters. I remember trumpet-playing window cleaner Derrick; drum-playing cabinetmaker Norman, and eccentrics like ‘Two-Halves Derek’, who’d been advised to drink halves rather than pints – so followed his GPs instructions by ordering two every time he went to the bar.
Over past decades social structures have broken down. Now the former Lords room of the Saddle has been opened into the main bar. The previous, rather sedate ‘smoking room’ remains as a dining area at the front, with the back room ‘Commons’ as lively as ever.
Press-bell buttons stud the room’s sociable bench-seating, but no longer summon service. Meanwhile, plasma screens cover today’s sporting action though, thankfully, with volume turned down.
It’s all about talking to others, getting cosy and enjoying our heritage. What better way to spend autumn? Cheers to all!
* For Roy’s books, visit www.royedmonds-blackpool.com.