Almost opposite “The Llandoger Trow” public house, which I mentioned in my previous post, is “The Old Duke“. A certain on-line encyclopaedia informs me that there is a record of a “Duke of Cumberland” public house being on King Street as early as 1775, but now the pubs name pays tribute to a very different Duke; Duke Ellington, the American composer, pianist and band leader.
To quote it’s own website, “The Old Duke is a music venue situated on the cobbled King Street in the heart of Bristol. Named after Duke Ellington, the pub has become world famous for it’s live traditional, New Orleans inspired Jazz music“.
I don’t know anything about jazz, but I find place names, especially the names of public houses, and the history behind them fascinating.
The name “The Old Duke” doesn’t bring anything immediately to mind, neither did the eye catching sign that I stopped to photograph, but I guess that’s because I’m not very musically inclined. “The Duke” however is a nickname common to the late Academy Award winning American actor John Wayne and antiques expert and television presenter David Dickson, so if I were to inherit a pub called “The Old Duke” a subtle name change might be in order.
Alexander Selkirk, Bristol, Daniel Defoe, English Literature, King Street Bristol, Llandoger, Privateer Tyger, Public houses, pubs, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robinson Crusoe, The Llandoger Trow, Treasure Island, Trow
“The Llandoger Trow“ stands out as one of the most remarkable buildings I noticed on my last visit to Bristol, purely from an architectural stand point initial, but the more I have looked into the history of the public house, the more remarkable it gets!
The timber-framed building dates from 1664, but the story really begins with the retirement of a certain Captain Hawkins [very “Treasure Island“, don’t you think?] sailed his trow, a flat-bottomed barge typical of the craft common to Bristol, across from Llandogo in Wales for the last time and decided to get into the pub trade. By 1755 the name “The Llandoger Trow” was well established.
Tradition has it that Daniel Defoe met the buccaneer and castaway Alexander Selkirk, who is generally recognised as the inspiration behind Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe“, at “The Llandoger Trow” and it is thought that the public house inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s description of the “Admiral Benbow” in his swashbuckling adventure “Treasure Island“.
The sign of “The Llandoger Trow” was mentioned in a recruitment notice for the privateers ship Tyger in a Bristol newspaper, so the place must have been well known to seafarers of an adventurous persuasion who more than likely formed the 280 man crew of the 36 gun ship, commanded by John Nielson, who received his letters of Marque in 1757.
In Victorian times the public house reinvented itself as a theatre pub, as it gained an association with the Theatre Royal, which is further up the street, and in the Second World War two of the building’s gable ends were destroyed by the Luftwaffe during a bombing raid, leaving the three you can see today.
It strikes me that “The Llandgor Trow” is an inspiring place, whether you know about it’s history or not, so I’m sure it will survive for future generations to admire.
Mysterious Britain & Ireland. co. uk. http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/england/avon/hauntings/the-llandoger-trow-bristol.html
Key to the City. co. uk. http://www.keytothecity.co.uk/bar.php?Id=154&CityId=2&From=Family&Enabled=Yes
…and The National Archive for details regarding the privateer Tyger. http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/record?catid=-5191317&catln=7
boar, British Monarchy, coat of arms, heraldry, King Richard III, Kings Arms, Kings Arms Public House York, National Portrait Gallery, National Portrait Gallery London, Plantagenet, Public houses, pubs, Richard III, Richard III Society, white boar, York
The “Kings Arms” was not the first public house I visited in York that cold November evening back in 2010, but I obviously wasn’t so merry that I didn’t notice this portrait of King Richard III hanging over me; inspired by one of my favourite painting from the National Portrait Gallery in London, by Anon. To quote from the Gallery’s website, “This portrait, in which he appears to be placing a ring on the little finger of his right hand, has been seen by some as evidence of his cruel nature and by others as evidence of his humanity”, so you can read into it what you like!
As well the portrait the pub also displays the Arms of Richard III, which include his personal heraldic device, the white boar, flanking the Plantagenet coat-of-arms. A certain on-line encyclopaedia informs me that a complete boar in heraldry, as opposed to just the head, might represent the courage and fierceness the boar displays, but I haven’t had much experience of boars in the wild [or in captivity, for that matter]. The Richard III Society, which promotes research into King Richard III related matters, still uses the white boar on some of its heraldic devices and logos.
An article on the BBC website entitled “The Forgotten Flood: Sheffield’s tragic past remembered” informs me that, “The Great Sheffield Flood of 1864 claimed the lives of at least 240 people and left more than 5,000 homes and businesses under water when the poorly constructed Dale Dyke Dam at Bradfield collapsed“. “The Fat Cat” was “The Alma” back then and the pub had only been standing for fourteen years when the disaster occurred. The BBC archive also reported that “RAF helicopters were used to lift stranded office workers from buildings in the Lower Don Valley and Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough football stadium and the giant Meadowhall shopping centre were pictured swamped under several feet of water“. These lines really made me think, specially the 1864 high water mark, which was well above my waist!
I didn’t have a Pint in “The Fat Cat“, because it was too early in the day, but it looks very nice on their website, so I’ll have to pop in on my next visit to Sheffield.
To quote from the RAF Escaping Society Museum website, “The RAF Escaping Society Museum was first established in the mid 1960s at a Whitbread public house in Mabledon Place, off Euston Road in London. The pub – renamed The Escape – was in more of a student than a tourist area and attracted insufficient interest”; what a shame! But at least the sign has found a new home at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre.
Another view of Bristol from the top deck of a double decker bus. The part of the mural I failed to photograph is mostly taken up by a blue whale wearing a crown, you can just see its fin on the left of the scene. To my credit, I did manage to photograph the rather jolly octopus on the other side of the pub, before the bus moved swiftly on through the traffic lights, seen on the right.