Monday, 6 June 2011

Pub nicknames

You guessed it. We're still in 1930's Bolton analysing pub names. This time it's informal names.

Pub nicknames are funny things. Some are blindingly obvious. Others are so obscure no-one remembers their origin. It seems as if this was just as true in pre-war Bolton.

"Besides the official names, many pubs have nick-names. These are of several sorts. Here are some:

The Greyhound — Clem Dug. (Hungry Dog)
The Great Eastern — The Ship
The Grey Mare — Kicking Donkey (ref. to sign on window)
The Golden Lion—Brass Cat.

Others are based on physical characteristics of the pub:

Wheatsheaf — Roundhouse.
Junction Inn — Smoother (i.e. smoothing iron, because of the shape of the pub).
School Hill Hotel — Skennin Door (squint door, two doors set on angle).
Stanley Arms — Sally up Steps (five steps up to the pub door, and landlady Sally).

Names of landlords and landladies are used also, and often remain after they have died or gone somewhere else:

The King's Arms — Balsher's or Balshaw's.
Nelson Hotel — Owd Flickie's.
Stanley Arms — Pat's Hotel (after ex-landlord Patterson).
British Queen — Owd Pomp's (landlord called Pomfret).
The Old Oak — Owd Kit's.

Other nick-names are connected with the type of customer:

Spakeaisy (this is where Irish labourers go).
Little Lad's pub (this was a place where little piecers drank).
Swine Lodge (people who don't drink there don't like those who do).
Pap Show (reputed to be on account of its being a midday drinking place for miners' wives who came into town with their babies in the afternoon, and would sit there suckling them. Observers have seen this done in local mining village pub).

Then there is the Dog and Kennel, a literary reference, the name by which everyone knows the Park View Inn, some people indeed thinking that that is its only name. Its origin is to be found in the local dialect writings of Allen Clarke, a Worktowner, who wrote, among other things, a number of funny dialogues based on the regulars of this pub, which he re-christened the Dog and Kennel.

Other names, such as the Romping Kicker, for the Nelson's Monument, the Red Rag for the Ninehouse Tavern, the Mop for the Weavers' Arms, Pig and Whistle for the Blue Boar, Sparrow's Tooth or the Boatrace for the Duke of Cambridge, and, most obscure, the War Office for the Recreation Tavern (centre of local pigeon racing, see Sport chapter), are the result of local jokes and allusions, mostly obscure now."
"The Pub and the People" by Mass Observation, 1943 (reprinted 1987), pages 89 - 90.

Pap Show - what a great name for a pub. I'll have to remember that for when I start building my chain of tied houses. Romping Kicker isn't bad, either. I can use that one, too. Now all I need to do is build a brewery. And get the money. That's quite important, having the dosh.


Anonymous said...

My favourite nickname for a Leeds pub is The Nag & Fart (for The Horse & Trumpet).


Ed said...

The pub nicknames I can think of are the Mucky Duck for the White Swan in Ockham, and the Old Stabbage for The Station in Woking (someone was stabbed to death there when it was called The Old Stillage).

Anonymous said...

The Greyhound on Deansgate in Bolton is now known by its regulars as the Kicking Donkey and has been for many years, reputedly because one of its regulars used to tie his donkey up outside the pub and it was known to lash out at passers-by.
The Golden Lion is now officially known as the Brass Cat, one of those cases where the nickname takes over its real name.
'Pomps' - British Queen, now that takes me back. I've not heard that one in a while.
Swine Lodge - Yates's; could almost be a pap show itself the amount of flesh on show there at the weekends.

Andrew Elliott said...

I dunno... Red Rag sounds pretty prestigious too; it really makes me wonder about the clientele at the Nine House Tavern -- perhaps men trying to escape their wives at that time of the month?

Martyn Cornell said...

Let us not forget the Ted the Grass for the Edward the Confessor in Stevenage (also known as the Ned the Nark …) and, more famously, the White Hart in Fleet Street, known when that road still had national newspaper offices on it as the Stab in the Back, because that's what would be happening to you if you weren't in there.

dave said...

Who or what are "little piecers"? (From "Little Lad's pub (this was a place where little piecers drank)")

Ron Pattinson said...

Dave, some sort of workers in the cotton industry. No idea beyond that.

Anonymous said...

The pub nickname (by the Navy)for the Rising Sun in Clanfield Hampshire (when the signals school HMS MERCURY was just three miles away) was the Japanese Embassy.