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Andrew Denny

What was the big pub Rolt mentioned south of Leicester?

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In Narrow Boat Tom Rolt mentioned a huge pub by the canal on the Grand Union Leicester Line, south of Leicester and in the Blaby/Glen Parva/Wigston area. 

He hated it, the sort of place that people came to by motor car, and he made it sound like a proto-Wetherspoons.   This would have been in the summer of 1939. 

Does anyone know where this pub was, and if the building still exists? 

 

Thanks 

Andrew 

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Sounds like the old county arms. Will dig out my copy of the book and have a look.

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2 hours ago, Andrew Denny said:

In Narrow Boat Tom Rolt mentioned a huge pub by the canal on the Grand Union Leicester Line, south of Leicester and in the Blaby/Glen Parva/Wigston area. 

He hated it, the sort of place that people came to by motor car, and he made it sound like a proto-Wetherspoons.   This would have been in the summer of 1939. 

Does anyone know where this pub was, and if the building still exists? 

 

Thanks 

Andrew 

Navigation at Kilby Bridge? https://thenavikilby.wixsite.com/thenavigation

 

Echoed in a poem by Ray White with regards to The Greyhound at Sutton's.

 

So now towards the pub I turn, the centre of our lives,

The ‘Greyhound’ was a ‘home from home’, for boatmen and their wives.

Alas it has been ‘Modernised’, it never had a bar.

And boating folk feel strangers now – its patrons come by car.

And gone too is the little shop, where boat wives spent their pay,

Buying enough of this and that to last ‘till settling day.

Our friendly Mrs Nelson, ‘Rowie’ and Nuala too

No longer serve the folks beer and crisps – it’s not the pub I knew.

Leicester 1.jpg

Leicester2.jpg

Edited by Ray T

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looking at my copy, having re-read the chapter at the weekend, it's never named is it? Just described as a 'monster gin-palace', the ultimate apotheosis of brewers' taste manifested in the super-cinema style'

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29 minutes ago, BilgePump said:

looking at my copy, having re-read the chapter at the weekend, it's never named is it? Just described as a 'monster gin-palace', the ultimate apotheosis of brewers' taste manifested in the super-cinema style'

Definitely not the Navigation by that description!

  • Greenie 1

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I would agree, it sounds like The County Arms - knocked down in 2010 to make way for a retirement village. Using the ageing facility in Google Earth (LE2 9DH) its right next to the canal and was built in the 1930's. Old photos do make it look like a modern factory!

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Hell's bells, it's even worse than Rolt made out, brutalist but derivative? I wonder what he would make of today's kids all sitting around in a 'spoons each engrossed in their social media world.

  • Greenie 1

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6 minutes ago, Ray T said:

Found these pictures:

 

 

See the source image
See the source image

 

 

55 minutes ago, BilgePump said:

looking at my copy, having re-read the chapter at the weekend, it's never named is it? Just described as a 'monster gin-palace', the ultimate apotheosis of brewers' taste manifested in the super-cinema style'

 

And now we might regard it as an interesting example of art deco style, and regret its passing!

  • Greenie 1

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26 minutes ago, Mike Tee said:

I would agree, it sounds like The County Arms - knocked down in 2010 to make way for a retirement village. Using the ageing facility in Google Earth (LE2 9DH) its right next to the canal and was built in the 1930's. Old photos do make it look like a modern factory!

 

It was the County Arms, a Beefeeter for many years, and due to its listed status as an art deco 'masterpiece', was not knocked down, but the frontage and tower retained when the retirement home was finally developed, having stood empty for 15 years and been the target of several arson attacks.

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1 hour ago, matty40s said:

Screenshot_20190531-180107_Maps.jpg

Love the “Marketing Suite” signs. So easy for naughty people to change and always appropriate when they do. 

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Deffo the county arms....owned by some of showaddywaddy for a time. It’s actually a rather good example of a 1930s pub built for the motor car trade....sadly there’s not many like it been kept. I’ve actually a soft spot for a “roadhouse” pub 

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2 hours ago, David Mack said:

 

 

And now we might regard it as an interesting example of art deco style, and regret its passing!

 

Yes Art Deco, but not that a nice example. 

 

Interesting the way he also regards the factories built along the Great West Road as undesirable. The "Golden Mile" including the Firestone Tyre factory is now regarded as classic industrial architecture.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Mile_(Brentford)

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firestone_Tyre_Factory

 

Firestone's_Factory_1963_-_geograph.org.

 

 

And a GREAT word he uses for the grim beer served so often in pubs with staff who neither know nor care about good beer - execrable

 

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1 hour ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Yes Art Deco, but not that a nice example. 

Unfortunately, the best bit of the pub was pretty much destroyed in one of the arson attempts -  to the right and behind of the tower in the pictures and overlooking the canal at 1st floor level was a massive semi circular window with table seating inside. Even the gardens were a multi-level art-deco style affair.

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2 hours ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

Interesting the way he also regards the factories built along the Great West Road as undesirable. The "Golden Mile" including the Firestone Tyre factory is now regarded as classic industrial architecture.

The classic Eli Lilly factory, in Basingstoke, seen from the railway, is to be turned into flats.  Known now as the 'White Building'.

Screenshot (40).png

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3 hours ago, noddyboater said:

Love the “Marketing Suite” signs. So easy for naughty people to change and always appropriate when they do. 

Into what?

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1 hour ago, matty40s said:

Unfortunately, the best bit of the pub was pretty much destroyed in one of the arson attempts -  to the right and behind of the tower in the pictures and overlooking the canal at 1st floor level was a massive semi circular window with table seating inside. Even the gardens were a multi-level art-deco style affair.

Remember it well, but it was a god awful looking building.

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Don't think much of the County Arms, though similar in style to many London Transport garages also of 1930's style, many of which are now dust.

 

https://c20society.org.uk/100-buildings/1928-firestone-factory-brentford/

 

The Hoover building was saved, though now a Tesco, and the Ovaltine building but only the roadside facade. Canalside is unrecognisable as the former building, though I don't think it was ever intended to be a canalside showpiece!

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6 hours ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Marketing shite, obvs...

 

🤣

What a vivid imagination you have.

It does remind me of a true story. In the 1990s a friend of mine had a record shop in the shopping arcade in Redhill called 'HITS'. He arrived to open up one morning to find that overnight some merry prankster with a screwdriver had swopped the letters round into an unflattering anagram. Obviously a dissatisfied customer....

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Athy, a similar thing happened in Kidderminster a few years ago. A pub properly called the Grand Turk, closed, was rebranded the Rank Turd by someone with a wicked sense of humour. If only I’d kept the photo......

Edited by dave moore
  • Haha 2

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15 hours ago, BilgePump said:

Hell's bells, it's even worse than Rolt made out, brutalist but derivative? I wonder what he would make of today's kids all sitting around in a 'spoons each engrossed in their social media world.

One thing I won't accuse Wetherspoons of is neglecting tradition. They make a huge effort to research local history. Indeed, I wonder what Rolt would have made of Tim Martin taking over that pub, when you compare it with the average bigscreen TV sports bar. 

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19 minutes ago, Andrew Denny said:

One thing I won't accuse Wetherspoons of is neglecting tradition. They make a huge effort to research local history. Indeed, I wonder what Rolt would have made of Tim Martin taking over that pub, when you compare it with the average bigscreen TV sports bar. 

In nearby March they took over the old cinema and turned it into a pub. When the Middle Level Commissioners' office building next door became vacant they annexed that too. I think they run it as a hotel.

 

Someone earlier in the thread mentioned the word "roadhouse", which I think is what the big pubs which sprang up along main roads to cater for the carborne trade (long before the breathalyser was thought of) were often called. I think of them as "six bars four restaurants" pubs.

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1 hour ago, dave moore said:

Athy, a similar thing happened in Kidderminster a few years ago. A pub properly called the Grand Turk, closed, was rebranded the Rank Turd by someone with a wicked sense of humour. If only I’d kept the photo......

 

When STAR WARS was first shown in Cambridge some wag rearranged the letters over the cinema entrance to read ARSE WARTS. (No, I don't know where the extra E came from).

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