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Letter: What Do You Talk About To A Beautiful Girl In California? Well Guildford Of Course!

Published on: 6 May, 2013
Updated on: 7 May, 2013

Live & Let Live letterFrom AM Leahy (aka ‘Orb’)

I lived in Guildford in my youth but I currently live in the California desert and was in a café yesterday where I met a rather beautiful girl who had a tattoo “Live and Let Live” on her forearm.

So I explained that was the name of a pub from a town in my youth. Googled it, came across your article and found it to be no more.  I had heard with sadness that The Three Pigeons had been poncified into “The Farriers” or some such nonsense but glad to learn it is back to its ancient name.

There was also of course Friary Brewery, Fremlins, Yates Wine Lodge and the White Lion Hotel. The Wooden Bridge [by the old by-pass] sometimes had over thirty double decker buses in on a Sunday night en route back from the coast….. (char-a-bancs)… A coffee palace….. I think five cinemas too. And a slaughterhouse in the High Street [or was it the bottom of North Street?], as I gather there now is every Friday and Saturday night with all the amateur drinkers about!

The first drink I actually purchased in a pub was in The Britannia in Millmead. Glad to see it is still there. I was 13 and it was a brown ale at eleven and a half pence in the saloon bar. They say you always remember your first and your last! There were 54 licensed premises in town at the time.

Part of the reason for being in that area was because T.S. Charlotte [Training Ship Charlotte for the Sea Cadets] was there then. The following year we performed a guard of honour next to the column of Nelson in Trafalgar Square, 21st October. Seasoned boozers and believed we were real sailors by that time!

I don’t think much can be done to stem the tide of altered drinking habits. If it was all unchanged since the town clock was installed there would be not much besides gin shops and inns to choose from. I think the clock pre-dates the laying down of setts in the High Street. Probably some moans about that too.

I recall the last Olympic torch came  through town, aboard a stagecoach, I think, or at least accompanied by one. I have a vague memory of a pub right next to the Guildhall too. Not the Bull’s Head, that was at the corner of Market Street.

See also: Live and Let Live is Dead – What Does It Mean? and Time Ladies and Gentlemen Please! – Does the Demise of Guildford Pubs Matter?

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Responses to Letter: What Do You Talk About To A Beautiful Girl In California? Well Guildford Of Course!

  1. David Rose Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Blimey, he beats me by a year when he bought his first drink in a Guildford pub.
    He says he was 13, I was 14 years old – but at the same pub, the Britannia.
    Can’t remember how much the bottle of light ale cost me, but I know it was the summer of 1974.
    As Guildford’s Friary Meux brewery closed in 1969, I never got to try a drop of ale brewed there. I do wonder what it was like. Can anyone remember?
    In my collection of old bottles I have an unopened bottle of Friary Audit Ale – supposed to be from the last batch that was bottled before the brewery closed; and I have recently been given a half pint bottle of Friary Meux XXXX.
    I’m sometimes tempted to open one of them and see what state the contents is in. But beer doesn’t keep like wine, does it?

  2. AM Leahy Reply

    May 7, 2013 at 9:23 am

    The slaughterhouse was definitely in the High Street. Close to Sainsburys, I think. Below Trinity church… There was also another one along Wayside Road… We would help drive the sheep from the cattle market (now I think the law courts site or thereabouts) through Station Meadows (only a motor bike cinder track there then) to it.

    Glad to hear The Britannia name is back again. I know T. S. Queen Charlotte now at Dapdune Wharf. (Wonder if they still have a band?)

    Stevens had horse drawn barges up an down the towpath, probably as late as the mid fifties…Cheers!

    PS Tattooed lady not yet proposed… nor propositioned… but Live in hope…

  3. Bernard Parke Reply

    May 7, 2013 at 11:39 am

    The Shambles in the High Street, next to WH Smith, was the site of a slaughter house.

    The word was derived from the old Anglo Saxon word ‘feshammels‘ meaning butchers.

  4. John Foster Reply

    May 7, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    The pub next to the Guildhall was called, I think, ‘The Kitchen and Kettle’ but was always known as “under the clock”. I used to practise my trumpet there in the early fifties, when my brother-in-law was the manager. I was practising there one day when a message came asking me to stop. The court was in session in the Guildhall and they didn’t take kindly to my playing.

    The slaughterhouse was at the rear of Mercer’s the butcher’s in Baker’s Passage. We used to stop off there on our home from school in the thirties and peep through the fence and watch them slaughter the animals.

  5. Peter Bullen Reply

    May 7, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    First drink in a pub? The Jolly Farmer in Quarry Street after our regular game of football in Shalford Meadows one Sunday in summer when I was 15. At that time they had a small serving hatch onto their verandah overlooking the river and I don’t think they could see how short (and young) I was.

  6. Ray Springer Reply

    May 8, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    My first drink in a pub was in The Bear in Friary Street, no longer there of course, although the facade of the building is.

  7. Chris Townsend Reply

    May 8, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    From Mark Sturley’s book “The Breweries and Public Houses of Guildford”, the pub just below the Guildhall was The Guildford Arms. A James Kettle was licensee in 1837, and advertised as a grocer and wine merchant, but a 1904 guide carried an advert for “J.F.Kitchen (late Kettle) Wine and Spirit Merchant ‘under the clock'”.

    The slaughterhouse at the bottom of North Street was Colebrook’s, butchers in Guildford for over 150 years. At one time, cattle were driven there through the streets. Today it’s the rear goods entrance of M&S.

    The coffee palace was very likely Boxer’s, in Tunsgate.

  8. John Foster Reply

    May 9, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Reading about those young under-aged drinkers set me thinking about my own youth. I can only be sure of being 16 when, dressed in my ATC [Air Training Corps] uniform, I joined three Canadian soldiers in a jeep and toured around Guildford pubs on VJ day. They paid of course.

    Two years earlier, at 14, I stopped smoking after my brother George and I were both sick one morning, I remember our mother saying that she couldn’t guess what had made us sick. But she must have known really, the room stank of stale cigarette smoke.

    Going back to when I was 13, I achieved something that I don’t think can be beaten. Brother George, our friend Ken Sherwin, both aged 14, and I, arrived at the cinema only to find that, because of the category, we had to be accompanied by an adult. The other two came up with the idea that if one of us pretended to be an adult they he could take the other two in. They then decided that, because I was the tallest, it should be me!

    So we went ahead with it and although the commissionaire said he didn’t think I looked 18, he still let us in.

  9. Aubrey Leahy Reply

    May 16, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks for slaughterhouse site info. Knew I was not totally gaga… yet.

    According to GoogleEarth the Coffee Palace still stands, opposite Pannell’s court in Chertsey Street.

    First drink that I ordered and paid for myself was at The Brittania. It was not unusual before then to have a cider or shandy with parents when out, usually outside or in the garden.

    Being tall (still am!) the most difficult trick to pull off regarding entrance to the cinema was that one week you were swearing that you were a minor and entitled to half price and the next week swearing you were an adult and entitled to be admitted.

    In those pre TV days one of the great entertainments was to watch The Fremlin’s Elephant bobbing his head up and down in the High Street, next to Macfisheries/Dewhursts. Then as now I was easily amused….

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