When the Fforde Grene was ahead of pub pack

Colin Waite was the voice-piece of Tetley's Brewery for ages until ill-health forced him in to early retirement but at his Killinghall home he's still very much switched-on to the ale scene.

And that snap I used recently of the Melbourne Brewery football team, and the mention of The Fforde Grene pub, set Colin's memory cells working:

"I clearly recognised one member of the team, the goalie, who moved to the Hunslet brewery soon after Melbourne became part of Tetley's.

"Ironically one of the senior directors at Melbourne, a charismatic figure who I can still vividly remember, not only brokered the deal with Tetleys to take over the Melbourne Brewery but also played a big part in taking Tetleys into the Allied Breweries merger of 1961 – and look where that eventually took the Huntsman, slap bang into the arms of the Danes!

"As for the Fforde Grene it was always amongst the top five performers for sales in the north of England. The first mention I have of it is in the Christmas 1961 edition of The Huntsman, Tetley's house magazine.

"In those days it was described as having: 'The commodious Elizabethan Bar, a large lounge bar with two satellite snugs, a concert room with stage and bar, where there is a concert every day of the week, a large tap room or vaults bar – the only room in the House restricted to men only – an out-sales room in which a coterie of old ladies are in the habit of sitting to enjoy a 'refresher', and a licensed loggia where, in fine weather, many customers are wont to enjoy their ale in pleasant al-fresco conditions. In the Elizabethan Bar lunches are served daily, chiefly to Leeds businessmen and their guests.'

"The magazine article, written by the brewery's public relations supremo Clifford Lackey, goes on to say: 'As might be expected, the cellars of The Fforde Grene are impressive and a credit to the Cellar Foreman – Mr Frank Nunwick.'

"Such a description gives you some idea of the scale of the beer stored in the pub. The licensee at the time was a well-known former RL player, Don Pollard, who used to play for Leeds and later Batley until he broke both legs in the 1938/39 season.

"The next mention of The Fforde Grene I found was in the winter 1989/90 edition when I did a story about the pub getting its first pictorial sign. The man I got to do the sign was a former Leeds-born licensee, Ken Middleton, who was a trained commercial artist. At the time he was running a pub near Scarborough for us called The Nag's Head, Scalby.

Humorous

"Ken came up with a cracking humorous design based on the confusion caused to endless folk by the unusual spelling of the pub name.

"Before giving Ken the brief to do the sign I decided to research how the pub got its name.

"It took some tracking down but I finally established that the name came from a former managing director of the Melbourne Brewery called Mr E V Ford.

"Apparently he could trace his family line back to the 13th century when the earliest known member was a Richard del Fforde who lived in Staffordshire in a house called Fforde Grene.

"It was to perpetuate the family name that Mr Ford decided to call the brewery's newly-built pub The Fforde Grene in 1938."