Pendle’s pub landlords of yesteryear

Behind the bar
Behind the bar
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Draw up a list of legendary local landlords and mine hosts from the past come flooding back.

Why here’s bon vivant Vic Lovett at the General Gordon Hotel, Nelson. How about the jocular Jack Ashton at the George and Dragon Inn down in Barrowford or indeed the genial George Gilpin at the Wigglesworth Arms Hotel, Brierfield?

More candidates include the affable Alf Charles at the Red Lion Hotel, Earby, or the amicable Adam Blacklaw at The Cross Keys Hotel, Barnoldswick, and not forgetting the welcoming Wilf Hargreaves at the Hare and Hounds Inn, Foulridge.

However, one name is forever synonymous in our local pub-lore history, the one and only witty and worthy Walter Drabble. Walter, seen here with his wife Nellie in 1975 at Colne’s Crown Hotel was a magnificent mine-host for almost 40 years in the town, beginning just before the Second World War in 1937 at The Derby Arms Hotel.

In 1951 the popular couple moved down to the prestigious Crown Hotel in Albert Road where they would chalk up a quarter of a century at the helm. The Crown Hotel during the Walter Drabble era was known far and wide for superb home-cooked meals (as indeed it is today), its convivial couple of bar waiters Charlie (Chipper) Clark and Walter (Cock-robin) Robinson and the enormous revolving entrance doors.

Back over 50 years ago when I was working as an office clerk at L. Threlfall and Son, wine and spirit merchants, one of my duties was to call on the Drabbles to stock-take the quarterly beer and spirits figures. Nellie would always have delicious butties and hot coffee to hand while Walter would put the juke-box on free for me while I counted the Crown’s huge stock. I can still recall Christmas 1962 when Elvis Presley’s number one “Return to Sender” had me singing along as I played the hit record half a dozen times!

Walter’s face was truly incredulous. Today his name lives on in bonnie Colne.