There were rough pubs, I must admit. You know the bottom of Sneinton Road – the New Castle? Originally it was called The Lamp, but everybody knew it as The Red Lamp, ’cause that’s where all the prostitutes used to go. Mrs Brown who owned the wet fish shop used to knock off work at Saturday dinner time, go down the King Billy and have eight or nine bottles of Guinness! What a character she was – oh, the language – it was foul! A couple of the original Panthers hockey team used to lodge at her house.
After shopping at the market on a Monday my mate and me would go to the Bath Inn, have a drink, then carry everything back. We didn’t have a lot of money ’cause we were on the social so we only had a couple of drinks each – I used to drink halves.
Cyril and me brother-in-law Jack used to go in the Bath Inn and have a pint, go to the boxing at the Baths, then come out and probably go in the Market Side to see Beattie – she was a good landlady. The Market Side was the nickname for the Sir Robert Clifton.
When weather was nice the doors to the Market Side pub were always open. It was lovely – you could hear this singing. People would get stuff from the market, go to the pub and be sitting there showing each other what bargains they’d got.
It always seemed to be summer at Sneinton Market and the pubs were always full, usually with men, because the women were busy shopping with the kids. They didn’t really have an outside front bit, their beer gardens were in the back so you didn’t get to see much as a child, but my family drank there, so the pubs were always talked about. The main pubs in Sneinton were the Bath Inn, the Market Side, the Red Lamp, the King Billy and the Peggers Inn, which was originally known as the Fox and Grapes and then as Pretty Windows, because it really did have the prettiest windows. If you wasn’t on the market during the day, you would be there at the night time, having a drink. In fact, the Pretty Windows was open until three, four in the morning. The people in there would have their high heels, skirts and suits on and were usually blind drunk, so they couldn’t have worked on the market – it would have been their last stop before crawling home.
Nigel Lymn Rose
When the early license used to come up for the Pretty Windows that was interesting because there’d always be someone else competing for it. The Lamp tried to get it, the Market Side tried to get it. There were plenty out there thinking they ought to get their chance and their share of it, but I don’t think they ever did.
There were plenty of pubs in Sneinton, but I rarely drank in them. There was Peggers, so called because there had been pegs outside, where they used to hang their pheasants. I went there probably half a dozen times in the whole period I worked down the market.
He was a nice fella in Peggers. He tried to do breakfasts, but it didn’t work. The caff was for the breakfasts, and the pub was for beer. His son said, “Can I go into the caff for me breakfast today, dad?” He wanted to be with the market men, he was only a young lad. He used to eat the breakfast at the side of the blokes, then he’d say to his dad, “It was lovely in there, you’ll not be able to do breakfasts like that!”
The landlord at the Fox and Grapes, George Wilson, was fatally stabbed in 1963. They came down and emptied every drain around the market – I think they got about two and a half thousand knives, but the murder is still unsolved. It wasn’t until I saw the 50th anniversary reconstruction on East Midlands Today that I found out whoever did it was supposed to have jumped off the roof of the caff and got the guy while he was down by the dustbins. That area is still there and you think, “Christ, I’m standing down near where a murder took place.”
At the time of George Wilson’s murder, my sister was going out with a guy from Mapperley, Bill Clark. He’d gone to the police because he’d cut through the market the night the murder took place, after walking my sister home. The police connected me with him and although I’d already been questioned because I worked on the market I was roped in about it again!
One of the places I worked for was dead opposite the Fox and Grapes. They decided that they were going to open at 6am – for the market people, allegedly. I was the sales manager and I got all our staff together and said, “Look, the pub’s open early, but anybody who’s found drinking in there will be instantly sacked because we’re just not having it. Alcohol’s got a place, but certainly not when we’re at work.” Luckily, I never did have to sack anyone – they were all too busy working. It was people from the nightclubs who’d come down and drink there. One day, I couldn’t believe my eyes – there was a young lady walking by with no skirt on, just in her knickers! Well-built young lady, as I remember.
I went in the Fox and Grapes just the once, the day after my daughter was born. Two or three of us went in, had a quick whisky and got straight back out to work again. The problem was, if you were starting work at 2.30am, 3am, you couldn’t even go out for a drink at night, because you’d got to drive to work. One guy Kenny Shipstone got nicked, driving to work the next morning. From a social life and family life point of view, it was the wrong trade to be in.