Holy water in cellar of Swindon pub
THE daughter of a bar manager who worked at a Swindon pub in the 1950s was surprised to find her old order book and holy water in the cellar.
She said: “I think it’s amazing. It’s quite funny to think she used to bless herself as she went up and down from the cellar.
“When I was 14 I also helped out and washed some of the glasses, because in those days of course you didn’t have dishwashers. I think I must have broken more glasses than went back out on the bar.”
Mary Kelly, who was originally from Ireland, used the bottle of holy water to bless herself every time she went down to the cellar, and regularly used the order book to order in new beers and ales.
She started working at the pub in 1959, and worked there for decades before retiring in her seventies following a road accident in 1984.
Mary’s former colleagues, Lyn Langley-Carter and Bill Bull, both 61, still work at the Kings and remember Mary fondly.
Lyn, from Upper Stratton, who has been working at the pub for 45 years and started working washing the dishes when she was 14, said: “It was a very friendly place to work for.
“But she was really strict. Nobody was allowed behind her bar and if she said you’d had enough that would be that.”
Bill, from Bushton, who has been working at the Kings for 43 years since he was 17, said: “She was just a lovely lady and she taught me everything I know about bar work.
“When I first started she set me out behind the bar and I told her that I didn’t know what I was doing and she said, ‘well just stand there and look like you know what you’re doing.
“They don’t know you don’t know what you’re doing, so as long as you look like you know what you’re doing you’ll be fine’.”
Of the many stories the pair remember of life at the pub in Mary Kelly’s time, they fondly look back on how she used to polish the silver.
Bill said: “Every Friday she used to leave the bar and did our silver and the brass, along with Peter Arkell’s tankard.
“In the old bar we used to have horse brasses on the top of the bar. On Mondays we used to open a little later because it was market day, and one year Christmas Eve must have been on a market day because afterwards some of the traders brought in a donkey they’d dressed up in silver tinsel.”
The Kings, previously The Kings Arms, opened in the 1830s when it was owned by miller John Godwin, who owned the windmill at the rear of the building.
A mortgage of £1,000 was raised in 1867 to rebuild it, and 18 years passed before Arkell’s bought it and it underwent a major refurbishment in March 2002.
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