'Rugby pub' is likely to re-start business

FEARS that the last pint has been pulled at a pub steeped in Rugby League history look to be premature.

Brewery bosses say they are confident the boarded-up Travellers Rest in Featherstone will soon be a thriving business once more.

The pub was closed down last month sparking fears among regulars that it was earmarked for demolition or a flats conversion plan.

But new owners Admiral Taverns, who bought the pub from Enterprise Inns last September, say they are close to making a decision on its future.

Admiral Taverns area manager Norman Wheatley, said: "I would say it's more than likely that it will be re-developed and re-opened later this year, all being well. I'm just waiting for feedback from our board."

Former Great Britain rugby league star Tommy Smales, 72, who ran the Travellers for 35 years until he retired in 2004, is hoping his former stomping ground will soon be brought back to life.

During his time behind the bar Tommy, who coached Wakefield Wildcats star Jamie Rooney as a youngster, set up renowned amateur side the Travellers Saints which nurtured a string of rugby league players and won the coveted West Yorkshire Cup in the mid 1980s.

Players who passed through the amateur team include former Castleford player Steve 'Knocker' Norton and Castleford, Halifax and GB player Neil James.

Tommy, who played for Featherstone and Bradford Northern and went on to coach Great Britain before finishing his career with Australian side North Sydney in 1967, said: "We had a room upstairs at the pub that wasn't being used, so I turned it into a gym for the team. I used to coach them individually.

Sadness

"There was a lot of sadness when the pub closed. I just hope it does re-open as a pub because it's an important part of Featherstone's history."

Pub regular Darren Leake, 32, of Pontefract Road, said: "Everybody was upset about it closing. It is a popular pub."