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Memories Of Guildford Pubs Are Wanted For New Book

Published on: 22 Mar, 2016
Updated on: 25 Mar, 2016

By David Rose

I am currently witing a new book titled Guildford Pubs and I am on the look out for anecodotes and memories people may have of them.

The book is being published by Amberley later this year and will include pubs that are currently in business. A maximum of 50 pubs will be included and there will be details of their histories as well as what they have to offer today.

The Royal Oak in Trinity Churchyard, Guildford. The building dates back to at least the 17th century.

The Royal Oak in Trinity Churchyard, Guildford. The building dates back to at least the 17th century.

The first part of the book will feature pubs in the town centre, followed by a section of some of those across the borough – from Ash and Tongham in the west through to Shere, Albury, and so on, in the east.

The book will be illustrated in colour throughout with vintage and contemporary pictures.

Have you a story to tell about a once well-known landlord? Or perhaps some memories of what a pub and its clientele were like in times past? Or even a ghost story?

The White Hart in Pirbright. It was renamed the Moorhen for a while, but changed back again after a good deal of protest from locals.

The White Hart in Pirbright. It was renamed the Moorhen for a while, but changed back again after a good deal of protest from locals.

Our local pubs have certainly changed a good deal over the years. Some have had their names changed too. And it is interesting in that a number of them have reverted back to their former name. The Britannia, Stoke, White Hart at Pirbright, and Drummond, being just a few.

The Drummond Arms in Woodbridge Road was a Friary brewery pub.

The Drummond Arms in Woodbridge Road was a Friary brewery pub.

Perhaps you have memories of what the beer and ales were like in decades past. What can you say about the brews once produced by Guildford’s Friary Meux brewery.

I will make reference to Guildford’s proud brewing tradition that happily continues today with local breweries such as the Hogs Back, Surrey Hills and the Little Beer Corporation, who will also be mentioned.

I am also keen to hear from current pub managers, landlords, and tenants about the pubs they run today and what they pride their establishments on. Of course, many pubs today offer more than food and drink. The Keep and the Keystone, for example, both hold regular events and live music can be heard in others, including the Boileroom, formerly the Elm Tree.

The Wooden Bridge, opened in 1936 as a roadhouse, is still remembered for bands who played there before they became famous.

The Wooden Bridge, opened in 1936 as a roadhouse, is still remembered for bands who played there before they became famous.

On the subject of live music, what are your memories? I am always pleased to hear from people who saw bands such as the emerging Rolling Stones at the Wooden Bridge. And who remembers the local band House at the Kings Head in Quarry Street? Stories of these and other bands will be very welcome.

If you have a story to tell, please either email me some details to or call on 01483 838960.

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Responses to Memories Of Guildford Pubs Are Wanted For New Book

  1. David Kay Reply

    March 23, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Hi, I’ve been a frequent visitor to many of Guildford’s pubs since 2002.

    This may not seem very long, but I’ve probably visited more pubs than most! I’ve been to pubs in most other towns and cities in the Surrey area as well.

    I’m a real ale drinker on the whole and enjoy going to pubs for the ale, but eating at pubs has also become a hobby. Perhaps we can talk about some of the history of Guildford’s pubs. The Hogshead at the top of the High Street was a personal favourite. I’d be interested in the history of that one.

    Even more interesting would be finding out about the very old Guildford pubs such as the Red Lion. I can provide information on most Guildford pubs in today’s modern era.

    [David Rose: Thnaks David for your reply. I will email you to arrange a chat.]

  2. Peter Curtis Reply

    March 25, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    My grandfather, Reginald Curtis, was the landlord of two pubs in Guildford.

    The Vintners Arms, in lower North Street. This was burnt down before the Second World War. My grandad was accused of arson but was found not guilty.

    Seven Stars in Swan Lane. This was the second pub blown up by the IRA in 1974.

    He wqas known known as “Red Breast” because of his red wastecoat, he was a great local character.

    We have got a wealth of stories we can tell about his antics.

    My uncle was the lanlord of the Robin Hood in Sydenham Road and my great-grandad ran the Holdroyd in Guildford.

    My mum and dad ran the Greyhound but that was in Cranleigh.

    I would be delighted to help with your book.

    [David Rose: thanks Peter I will be delighted to talk to you. I have a picture of firemen tackling the blaze at the Vintners Arms in 1932. Please email me at with your phone number or call me on 01483 838960.]

    • Aubrey Leahy Reply

      March 28, 2016 at 2:56 pm

      Could have sworn Reg Curtis had the Star in Quarry Street as I am sure I remember him sitting outside. Don’t remember him at The Seven Stars. Did he have both?

  3. Aubrey Leahy Reply

    March 27, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    The Brittania in Millmead. December 1957. Foggy and cold night.

    Bought* my first drink just before going to the Christmas dance at the T.S. Queen Charlotte close by.

    A Friary Meux** brown*** ale which, if memory serves was elevenpence halfpenny.

    Still over a month until my fourteenth birthday I was taller than the landlord who, in spite of my trepidation, did not hesitate to serve me.

    * First one I paid for.

    ** The x in Meux is silent which was the cause of what passed then for brilliant wit: to whit, crying “Bollo” whenever Friary Meux was mentioned. Sad.

    *** The inside of the pub was mostly brown too. A most depressing colour.

    I suspect that shade was originally chosen to mask the nicotine staining.

  4. Pete Brayne Reply

    March 27, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    I started to frequent the Rats Castle (now the Albany) in 1970, aged 16.

    A light and bitter was my drink – which usually meant you got about two-thirds of a pint of bitter and a bottle of light ale. Although this was before the Campaign for Real Ale, so the bitter was usually Double Diamond which, contrary to the jingle, didn’t “work wonders”!

    Although it was a fairly rough and ready pub, I only recall one fight. The football table was one of the main attractions, but there was also bar billiards and, of course, darts.

    I celebrated my 18th birthday there and the landlord didn’t seem too worried that I had been a regular for almost two years already. By then, I had my first car, a 1954 Morris Minor, with split windscreen and flipper turning indicators. It had been hand painted purple! So I then started to drink further afield with scant regard, I might add, to drink driving in those days.

    [David Rose: many thanks Pete for your memories, may I use those in my book?]

    • Pete Brayne Reply

      March 29, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      David – of course!

  5. Richard Anscombe Reply

    March 29, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    I have been researching my family history and found that one of my great, great-grandfathers, Charles Hepburn, was the landlord in the Kings Head, Quarry Street until his death on 9th December 1890, aged 58 years. His death certificate says that he died from “fatty degeneration of the heart and gout”.

    He started work at the Kings Head sometime between 1871 and 1881 according to census returns. I understand that in those days the bar was the small bit at the front and various tradesmen lived in the pub.

    Like Pete Brayne I started to drink when I was 16 in 1964 but in the Saddlers Arms in Send Marsh where I lived.

    I celebrated my 18th birthday there with my old school friends. I remember the landlord asking me what the celebration was for and when I told him it was for my 18th birthday he became very silent but we carried on drinking anyway.

    My first car was an olive green 1952 Morris Minor with a split windscreen. I too then started to drink further afield but in those days the breathalyser had not been invented and the roads were a lot quieter.

  6. Rob Searle Reply

    March 31, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    When I was a sub-editor at the Surrey Advertiser in Martyr Road in the early 1970s we worked late on Wednesdays, until 8pm and sometimes beyond. Thursday was press day and the inside pages of the paper had to be mostly finished the day before.

    As Wednesday was a long day, we were allowed a half-hour break at 5.30pm, our normal knocking-off time. Subbing was thirsty work and we needed liquid refreshment to keep going. Strong tea was just not good enough, so good beer was desired.

    However, it being many years before all-day opening was allowed, the pubs did not open for their evening session until 6pm, so we started our break then.

    Our usual venue for the break was the Horse and Groom, just up the road in North Street and the purveyor of excellent Courage Best. For a change, went to the nearby Surrey Arms and, if work was slow in coming through from the newsdesk and we could confidently add a few minutes to the break, to the Bull’s Head in High Street.

    We were inevitably the first customers of the evening and the pub door had often not been unlocked when we arrived. After a couple of pints each, we returned to our desks for a further 90 minutes or so of counting words, checking spellings, correcting grammar and writing headlines. All carried out skilfully and accurately, of course, and I might add that most of us had also imbibed at a local hostelry at lunchtime. The Spread Eagle in Guildford Street (now, strangely, called the Guildford Tup) was preferred for a decent sandwich lunch.

    Sadly, the first three pubs mentioned are all long shut down. The Horse and Groom, of course, was bombed by the IRA in 1974. It was revived as a pub but eventually became a shop, a fate also suffered by the Surrey Arms and The Bull’s Head.

    The local newspaper journalists of today rarely leave their offices at lunchtime, such is the pressure of work, and most would probably not get to a pub during the day.

    In the 20th century, pubs were an intrinsic part of journalists’ culture. We socialised, brainstormed and networked with contacts in them and they were a big benefit to the profession. It cannot be denied that some journalists suffered from over-indulgence but alcohol never harmed the majority of us, and we produced some great papers.

    Rob, Thank you so much for sharing this memory. Alcoholic refreshment was a regular part of many jobs, even just two decades ago. Drink driving and increased health consciousness have changed our culture. Is it for the better? Well swings and roundabouts, I suppose.

    I believe we are still living through the IT revolution which is changing life every bit as much as the industrial revolution did. It allows me to write this on a sofa while on holiday in Scotland but removes the comraderie of a lively newsroom.

    I too drank in the Horse & Groom in the early 70s and have promised David to write some of my memories down. I hope many others do to. Our memories are like wine, better shared – and shared, hopefully, with future generations too, when we are long gone. Ed.

  7. Robert Evans Reply

    October 14, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    My father, George Evans, was the landlord of the Cannon pub from 1977 to the early 1980s.

    I used to play the music on Thursdays through to Saturday evenings and the place was standing room only.

    It was the place to be in the late Seventies.

  8. Dave Chillistone Reply

    May 15, 2018 at 10:51 pm

    I’m one of those who remember hearing (not seeing, I was far too young!) the Rolling Stones at the Wooden Bridge.

    I’m fairly sure it was in 1962, when I was 12.

    I lived in Manor Road and I sneaked off on the pretext of ‘going for a bike-ride’.

    They wouldn’t let me in of course so I stood outside and listened. Fantastic!

    And while we’re on the subject, do others remember the Stormsville Shakers at the Stoke Hotel? (and at other venues).

    Another pub that bears a mention was the Greyhound, on the corner between High Street and the Farnham Road bus station. My friend Pete was the landlord’s son.

    Pete and I were stranded in the Greyhound during the Guildford floods of 1968.

    The flood waters engulfed that part of town on the Sunday evening, while Pete’s mum and dad were up at the Kings Head in Quarry Street.

    The Surrey Advertiser carried a front-page article with a picture of the outside of the Greyhound, up to ground floor ceiling in flood water.

    Can anyone remember the picture or, better still, does anyone have a copy of it?

    And finally, I must mention the Cricketers on the Aldershot Road at the foot of Ryde’s Hill Common.

    Some way out of town but that was its attraction because it’s where beer and I first became acquainted.

    I was just 16, but no one seemed to be that bothered about age.

    [David Rose adds: The Stones played the Wooden Bridge several times in 1963, but not 1962. I have many pictures of the 1968s floods and original copies of the Surrey Advertising reporting them. It will be 50 years ago this September. We will be looking back with articles when the anniversary comes.]

  9. Harry Lee Reply

    November 19, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    I was player/manager of the football team at The Kings Head, Quarry Street in 1970. The landlord was Bob Crellin and the head barman was Brian Newman.

    Notable customers were Dick “Bergie” Bergman, Brian Avenell, Mick Swiers, Brian McCann, Peter and Paul Morey and many others. In my hunt for suitable footballers, I would visit all the local hostelries, especially the Three Pigeons (landlord Brian Miller) and the Cannon.

    Our main rivals were the Rats Castle (very good team – Brian Malone, Andy Maher, Johnnie Wright, Fred Meecham, John Baybutt, Bobby and Nobby Newman). We trained on beer and crisps and had a hell of a time.

    I went off to London in 1971 and my brother, Jim went to Australia (actually that started as a pub outing to the Munich Oktoberfest – long story).

    Hope your book becomes a reality. Good memories.

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