John Smith’s Modern Pubs in the North, 1967–69

This is another in our series of posts sharing photographs and details about post-war pubs from mouldering magazines. This time, it’s John Smith’s of Tadcaster and the magazine is The Magnet.

We’ve only got three edi­tions – we’d love more – but they’re packed with good stuff if, that is, your def­i­n­i­tion of good stuff is pro­files of plain-look­ing mod­ern pubs on hous­ing estates in places like Sheffield and Don­cast­er.

The Flarepath, Dunsville, South Yorkshire

Exterior of The Flarepath.

The head­line for this piece in The Mag­net is A ROYAL AIR FORCE PUB – The Flarepath, which opened in Novem­ber 1967, served RAF Lind­holme, near Don­cast­er.

The sign of The Flarepath.

The name refers to an illu­mi­nat­ed run­way used by bombers return­ing from night-raids over Ger­many dur­ing World War II. (Again, anoth­er won­der­ful name square­ly of its time.)

The Lindholme Lounge at The Flarepath.

The car­pet in the lounge was spe­cial­ly woven and fea­tured a Lan­cast­er bomber tak­ing off and the bars were dec­o­rat­ed with RAF squadron crests. There were pho­tographs of var­i­ous types of bomb, again from the Impe­r­i­al War Muse­um archive, on the walls.

Mr & Mrs Varley.

Its first man­agers were Joyce Var­ley and her hus­band Arthur, late of the Mag­net Hotel, Bent­ley.

Is it still there? Yes, with John Smith’s sig­nage out­side, too.

The Staff of Life, Doncaster

The exterior of the Staff of Life pub, Doncaster.
This is anoth­er one we love – a low-key town-cen­tre booze bunker with love­ly exte­ri­or typog­ra­phy. It opened in Sep­tem­ber 1967 and was notable for hav­ing no car park because it served a pedes­tri­an shop­ping precinct.

The drink­ing pub­lic is look­ing for com­fort nowa­days’, said man­ag­er Eric Pol­lard, with ref­er­ence to the lounge. It had strip light­ing which was no doubt very trendy then but isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly the stuff of which cosy pubs are made.

Is is still there? Yes, accord­ing to What­Pub. The cur­rent sig­nage isn’t as nice but it looks well-main­tained.

The Golden Fleece, Doncaster

Exterior of the Golden Fleece pub, Doncaster, c.1968.

This pub, which opened in Octo­ber 1967, replaced a pre­fab con­struct­ed by Whit­worth’s Brew­ery c.1950 on the Wheat­ley Park Estate.

The lounge at the Golden Fleece.

It had ‘green and yel­low cur­tains, light rust wall seat­ing, mus­tard chairs and stools’ – some­thing like this?

Pub colour scheme.
Wall­pa­per design from Wiki­me­dia Com­mons.

If the man­ag­er, Mr Gor­don Elstub, a for­mer min­er, asked you to leave, you would­n’t argue, would you?

Mr and Mrs Elstub behind the bar.

Is it still there? It’s hard to tell. There’s a 2013 What­pub list­ing but it looks like a build­ing site on Street View.

The Turf Tavern, Doncaster

The Turf Tavern (exterior view).

A bit of a booze bunker that could just as eas­i­ly be a tax office or fac­to­ry as a pub, this is one of those estab­lish­ments whose sto­ry is a use­ful case study: planned for rebuild­ing in 1938 in Improved Pub style, the war got in the way. Then, when they res­ur­rect­ed the plans in the 1950s, it was dis­cov­ered that the coun­cil planned to run a relief road through the orig­i­nal site. So this pub, which final­ly re-opened in Decem­ber 1967, 30 years behind sched­ule, was built to a new design, on a new site. Phew!

Lounge at the Turf Tavern.

It was ‘dec­o­rat­ed and fur­nished in lux­u­ri­ous Vic­to­ri­an style’ with fake oil lamps, and man­aged by Mr and Mrs Hamil­ton.

Is it still there? It was derelict for a long time but seems to have been rede­vel­oped with flats above and a bar below.

The Hare & Hounds, Stannington (Sheffield), South Yorkshire
The Hare & Hounds (exterior)
(Image slight­ly touched up by us.)

Not quite an estate pub, this – far too aspi­ra­tional. ‘A great deal of pine has been used in The Hare & Hounds giv­ing it what one might describe as a Scan­di­na­vian look.’

The Connolly Family behind the bar.

It was man­aged by a for­mer civ­il engi­neer, Frank Con­nol­ly, with his wife Vera and daugh­ter Josephine. The lat­ter said, ‘There is no “best” room here’, mean­ing that there were two pub­lic rooms, both posh. This is the Stir­rup Cup lounge:

The Stirrup Cup lounge.

Is it still there? No, or at least, it’s not trad­ing as a pub. It looks pret­ty sad on the 2012 Street View imagery.

The Batemoor, Sheffield

The Batemoor, exterior.

Who­ev­er wrote this one up for The Mag­net clear­ly strug­gled to find much to say about this box like booze bunker and so went on a flight of fan­cy:

Uncon­ven­tion­al in many respects and extreme­ly sym­met­ri­cal, The Bate­moor, which was recent­ly opened in Nor­ton, Sheffield, could well be used as a mod­el for the first pub­lic house on the moon. And that sort of dream may be a real­i­ty before many more years have passed.

The lounge at The Batemoor.The lounge (above) had a blue car­pet, black and ‘light fawn’ uphol­stered seat­ing and an ornate bar in the brew­ery’s house style. (Fibre­glass frip­peries.)

Is it still there? The build­ing, yes, but it’s now a con­ve­nience store.

The Traveller’s Rest, Shuttlewood, Derbyshire

Exterior view of The Traveller's Rest, Shuttlewood.

This pub replaced a Vic­to­ri­an hotel that had served a thriv­ing min­ing com­mu­ni­ty just out­side Chester­field, which dwin­dled when the coal ran out.

Nessie and Fred Barnes.

In its new incar­na­tion, it was run by Nessie and Fred Barnes. He was a for­mer Roy­al Navy man (Fleet Air Arm) and his grand­fa­ther was Eng­land crick­eter William Barnes.

The lounge bar at the Traveller's Rest

The pub was, in the loos­est, least impres­sive sense, a ‘theme pub’, the name inspir­ing some fibre­glass pan­els on the front of the bar in the lounge and… that was about it.

Is it still there? It does­n’t look like it – intel­li­gence to the con­trary wel­come.

The Desert Rat, Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire

Exterior of the The Desert Rat.

This is one of our absolute favourite post-war pubs – what a fan­tas­tic name that real­ly could only have been bestowed in the wake of World War II. As you can see from the pic­ture, it’s also uncom­pro­mis­ing­ly mod­ern – almost Amer­i­can in style – and stood on the West­cliff Estate. The slight­ly weird look of the pub was actu­al­ly prag­mat­ic: it was built on the site of ‘an old dew pond’ and thus stood on piles, some of them sunk 15 metres deep.

A frieze at the Desert Rat.

Major F.R. War­wick, Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of John Smith’s in the 1960s, served in North Africa him­self, and said at the open­ing:

It is not our inten­tion to glo­ri­fy war, for war is nev­er glo­ri­ous… How­ev­er, whilst war may bring out an indi­vid­u­al’s char­ac­ter­is­tics it also brings out the best in men. Such as com­rade­ship, courage and a sharp­ened sense of humour and nowhere was this more appar­ent than the West­ern Desert.

The pub was dec­o­rat­ed with Eighth Army shoul­der flash­es, fibre­glass friezes depict­ing bat­tle scenes, and offi­cial war pho­tographs from the Impe­r­i­al War Muse­um.

Susan and Brian Wilkinson

It was run by Eric More­cambe looka­like Bri­an Wilkin­son and his wife Susan, who were 30 and 28 respec­tive­ly. Peo­ple looked old­er back then, did­n’t they?

Is it still there? It was until the end of 2016 but has now been demol­ished, as far as we can tell. Here’s what Street View has:

The Harlequin, Thorne, South Yorkshire

The sign of the Harlequin.

Thorne is near Don­cast­er and was already ‘in plight’ thanks to pit clo­sures when this pub opened in March 1968 and ‘the con­struc­tion of The Har­le­quin was regard­ed as an act of faith’.

Exterior of the Harlequin.

It was dec­o­rat­ed through­out with har­le­quins, includ­ing a fibre­glass sculp­ture designed to look like bronze. The fur­ni­ture was pur­ple, green and blue, match­ing the cur­tains. (Shame the pho­tos are all black and white.) There was a tel­ly and deep fat fry­ers – very mod­ern – and was run by George and Dilys Cuth­bert­son.

The lounge bar at The Harlequin.

Is it still there? Per­haps aston­ish­ing­ly, yes! We can’t help but won­der what the inside looks like these days.

The Nook, Armley (Leeds), West Yorkshire

The exterior of The Nook.

The Nook was famous for its par­ties, accord­ing to The Mag­net, organ­ised by Mrs Sylvia Hardy, wife of the licensee, and themed around ‘tramps’, East­er bon­net com­pe­ti­tions, Hal­loween, and Valen­tine’s Day: ‘Mr and Mrs Hardy have dis­cov­ered the aver­age per­son loves dress­ing up.’

The barmaids of The Nook.

About a dozen gor­geous bar­maids, suit­ably attired, help to put a good deal of swing into things at The Nook.’ Swing, eh? Nudge nudge. Among the staff was Miss Leeds and Miss Leeds Unit­ed, June Wilkin­son (cen­tre, above).

Is it still there? Yes! Should I go in fan­cy dress? Unde­ter­mined.

The Norfolk Arms, Sheffield

The Norfolk Arms, exterior.

Here’s a fun sto­ry: the old Nor­folk Arms was demol­ished ready for this new one to be built, which revealed a riv­er every­one had for­got­ten about. Con­se­quent­ly, the brew­ery had to adapt the design, end­ing up with this odd, point­ed booze bunkerette. Here’s ‘the nar­row pub­lic bar’:

The public bar at the Norfolk with modern chairs and tables.

Is it still there? Hard to say for sure but it seems unlike­ly.

The Wordsworth Tavern, Sheffield

Exterior of the The Wordsorth Tavern.

They were so proud of this pub which replaced a 17-year-old pre­fab.

Lounge at The Wordsworth.

The new build­ing had a plush lounge with a juke­box, ‘mag­nif­i­cent pur­ple car­pet’, mus­tard seat­ing and yel­low wall­pa­per. Crikey.

Is it still there: No, because of this, it seems.

The White Bear, Wath-upon-Dearne

Exterior of the White Bear, Wath.

This pub replaced an old inn of the same name which was demol­ished dur­ing con­struc­tion of the new hous­ing estate. The pub­lic bar had wood­en floors and stools, while the lounge had car­pet and buck­et seats – the stan­dard pat­tern.

(We used to know peo­ple from Wath-on-Dearne; they always called it Where-upon-Earth.)

Is it still there? No, it’s a branch of Cost­cut­ter now.

The Strong Wood, Scarborough

Exterior view of The Strong Wood

This is actu­al­ly a rather nice look­ing build­ing with a hint of pre-war style about it. It over­looked a cor­po­ra­tion bowl­ing green and the name was a ref­er­ence to that sport. It had ‘clean line’ fur­ni­ture through­out and a lot of pale wood. We would pay good mon­ey to drink in this room:

The Lounge of the Strong Wood.

Is it still there? It does­n’t seem to be. Shame.

Next time: Mod­ern Pubs of 1960, from var­i­ous sources.

8 thoughts on “John Smith’s Modern Pubs in the North, 1967–69”

  1. This some­where in between sad, fas­ci­nat­ing, and love­ly.

    All the pubs have an upper floor that seems more like a home than a pub. Is that where the land­lord lives, or what?

    1. Yes, usu­al­ly. Licens­ing author­i­ties liked hav­ing some­one on site, as did the brew­ers who owned the pubs, and accom­mo­da­tion was a bonus for the tenants/managers.

      As it hap­pens, I spent sev­er­al years as a kid liv­ing in the flat above a pub. It was, as they often are, in poor repair and a cold. Noisy, too – my lit­tle broth­er’s first words, which I won’t repeat here, were prob­a­bly learned from peo­ple shout­ing in the street at kick­ing out time…

  2. I’m 3/4 on the Don­cast­er pubs. The Staff of Life and the Turf Tav­ern are/were in the Waterdale Cen­tre and the Staff for one was a pleas­ant town cen­tre Wards pub away from the main drag until Wards went bust and it became a John Smith’s pub. The Turf was a lit­tle daunt­ing as it looked like an exten­sion of the coun­cil offices and was a hang­out for coun­cil and col­lege staff.
    The Flarepath was inter­est­ing as it was on the flight­path into Lind­holme so it was pos­si­ble to watch planes com­ing in at fear­ful­ly low lev­els until the base shut down.

  3. Great stuff. Not my patch but two things catch the eye. One is Miss Leeds’ tan – very flash for the time. The oth­er is the gen­er­al scari­ness of the wives – nev­er mind Mr Elstub, it’s his mis­sus I’d be wor­ried about. The Wilkin­sons look fun though.

  4. I’ve final­ly real­ized what I’ve been miss­ing in my local. It isn’t “extreme­ly sym­met­ri­cal”! Nor does it have pur­ple car­pet or mus­tard seat­ing. Thanks for the edu­ca­tion.

  5. Not want­i­ng to be a pedant – but I’m going to be any­way – some of those pubs are clear­ly signed “Barns­ley Bit­ter”.

    Bit of a touchy sub­ject with me as Barns­ley Bit­ter was my intro­duc­tion to good beer. A clas­sic killed off by John Smith. Bas­tards. And they shut Holes. Dou­ble bas­tards.

  6. The Nor­folk Arms in Sheffield is still there albeit emp­ty and for sale, it was paint­ed up ready to be a lap danc­ing club but the licence was reject­ed. Any­one fan­cy buy­ing I and reopen­ing it under its orig­i­nal name? I used to go in there reg­u­lar­ly at one time as it was an ide­al pre gig venue as I is next door to The Lead­mill club, it was also fre­quent­ed by many bus dri­vers from the garage oppo­site, now closed

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