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– those fantastic pub Landlords & Landladies that used to make some alehouses such a pleasure to visit?

I’m old enough to remember the days when a pub was known by the character of the person who ran it – those individual Landlords or Landladies who made a pub their own. In those days the licensees name above the door actually meant something. I can still remember the name of the Landlady of the first pub I drank in as a teenager nearly 40 years ago – Grace Kathleen Taylor. She was replaced by a real character called Monica Brownlee. Anyone who drank in the Old Ship in Southport back in the 1980s couldn’t fail to remember Monica with her cheroots, her leather pants & those snappy one-liners delivered in an Irish brogue! Those were the days…

Nowadays you’d be hard pressed to even know who the licensees of many pubs are. Their territory’s no longer marked with their names above the door & for better or worse, many of them leave the running of the pub to bar staff & rarely grace the customers with their presence. Not that some of them have any presence to be honest…

I mention this because tonight I ventured into a pub that we used to frequent & found it a shadow of its former self. A few years ago this pub in Sowerby Bridge was a vibrant community pub. Owned by the Ossett Brewery, the place was run by landlady Linda who employed a great bunch of bar staff. That said, Linda was behind the bar herself most nights. You knew it was her establishment & she knew her regulars & what they drank – which was always a sign of a good pub.

Sadly, Linda & her partner Rob moved on & were replaced by a chap who only lasted a year or so at most. I hadn’t been in for a while but I’d bumped into some of the old regulars who told me the pub had been taken over by another new manager & it had gone downhill. The prices had gone up & the atmosphere had gone down. Last night I popped in & saw why. One harassed barman was trying to serve several people all on his own. Of the ‘landlady’ there was no sign (apparently, she hadn’t been seen all night). Finally, after the rush had died down, a young lady in slippers & semi-pajamas drifted downstairs. Without a word to anyone (including the barman) or even acknowledging their presence she emptied some bags of change into the till before disappearing back upstairs like a wraith.

Needless to say, I won’t be calling in again. If Ossett wonder why the takings at one of their pubs has taken a dive, perhaps they should look at the quality of their staff training & recruitment.