The other week I was at the unveiling of a refurbishment at Blackpool’s oldest pub, the Saddle Inn.
It reminded me of an historic renovation there a couple of decades ago.
Back then a toilet block was added (now further enhanced), while the bar area was extended by knocking down an internal wall.
That opened up one of the pub’s three rooms. This was the ‘Lords’, a snug to your left from the entrance on Whitegate Drive.
Marton Council held meetings there and generations of local worthies drank and discussed the wrongs of the world. Those old boys were most put out at losing their room.
At the time I was impressed by better carpeting, lighting and extra bar space. It was years before I realised what had been lost.
There have been redecorations since, while introducing ‘mod cons’ like hot bar food, background music and gambling machines. Blackpool’s motto is ‘Progress’, after all. However, that is often achieved only at painful loss. Older people learn to grin and bear it.
At the Saddle, two original rooms with fireplaces remain but over years casualties have included stained-glass windows and doors, original paintings and a saddle above the entrance. However, a new sign looks good.
“So what do you think?” asked one of the pub chain’s bosses the other evening.
“Very nice,” I answered, looking over beams and hardwood now painted sage, “good of you to spend on us. However, I’d have probably gone for traditional white walls and varnished woodwork.”
I didn’t mention old pictures disappearing, or a ‘Lords’ sign now erected over what had always been the ‘Smoking Room’. I’ve been told since there’s to be Sky sports screened too.
Whatever would the old Lords have said to all that? Now, we’ll never know - but I can imagine.
Time to smile and raise a glass once again, to more Progress.
n For Roy’s books visit www. royedmonds-blackpool.com.