Memories of The Grey Hen pub

The Grey Hen public house pictured in 1957.
The Grey Hen public house pictured in 1957.

It’s just more than 62 years ago since The Grey Hen public house first opened its doors to customers in South Shields.

Yet to thousands of our readers, it must have seemed like yesterday, judging by the number of memories they posted on the Gazette’s Facebook page.

Memory Lane  social flow  October 1962''  Hebburn Saving Bank interior.

Memory Lane social flow October 1962'' Hebburn Saving Bank interior.

Ken Barron said: “Went in there for my first pint, cost a shilling, with my old mate Alan Land, no longer here bless him. Everyone was looking at us as we were under age, late sixties.”

Dave Robson told how he “lived above it for years when my parents ran it. Eunice Robson” while Eunice Robson herself posted: “Best working years in the Grey Hen, but the name has nothing to do with a hen. It was something Catherine Cookson used to carry her grandfather’s ale in, there used to be a replica of the wicker basket she used on top of the sign post.”

Talking of the sign post Stephen Moran Graham asked “is that Alfie’s painting? I know he had one hanging up outside of there for years” to which Bernard Forrest replied: “Alfredo O’Brien painted the grey hen on the billboard, I knew him quite well.”

Tracy Kerrison took to social media to say: “Great days and lots of laughs working in there, Lisa, Karen, Julie, Sharon and Eunice” while Rob James told how he “used to love going in there”.

Trish Graham Middleton commented: “My parents had their wedding reception there in December 1965. Maureen and Graham” while Christine McCarthy Fraser said: “Had my wedding reception there in 1977. Forresters were the caterers.”

Others who celebrated there were Angela Patterson who “had my wedding reception there, lovely pub” and Terry Payn, who “worked there, saving to get married. Had my wedding reception there too, in 1975” along with Diane Hart who posted: “I’m 63 now, I had my 21st there, it was a great night.”

Janice Welsh said: “My sister had her wedding reception there 45 years ago” while Karen Bush spoke of “great memories of this pub, we’ve had some great weekends in here.”

Kath Strike wondered: “Wasn’t it nick-named the Mucky Duck?” something which Stephen Jones confirmed by stating: “The Mucky Duck as we liked to call it.”

Jackie Walker took to social media to say: “My friend at primary used to live there. Her mam and dad ran it, I used to go and stay over, I used to think it was great being allowed in the bar to get crisps, then go upstairs.”

John Gaffa wrote of the 1957 photo: “That’s when it was at it’s best” while Bill Davis added: “Good food served there now.”

Meanwhile, a photo, taken in October, 1962 and posted online, showing a young woman sorting through one of the filing systems behind the main counter of Hebburn Savings Bank in 1962 also generated a welcome response from readers.

Susan Hope took to Facebook to say: “I loved being the manager of this branch” while Claire Bambridge posted: “I think that is Brenda Stephenson, she worked there for years.”

Jen Carrick said: “I worked there from 68/70, with Dennis Forsyth, brings back memories; those stairs were lethal. lol.”

Susan Atkinson commented: “Banks have changed, less people working there, new technology etc but the queues are still out the door every time I go.”

On January 28, I told the story of a South Shields rock band, January Blue, which came up with a novel idea to promote one of their gigs – they hung a bed sheet from both sides of Westoe Bridge; an advertising ploy which helped secure a full house in Porters Bar.

The story prompted an email from former band member Nigel J Balmer, now Prof Balmer, a Research Director at Victoria Law Foundation in Australia.

He said: “The story really brought back some memories. It was a great time for bands in the Shields. I am the kid with the sunglasses on (bass player in early January Blue).

“I remember the advertising push well and Porters felt like a big deal.

“It was the most people I had played to and still is.

“The bass played the first few bars of the first song and it would be fair to say that a) I was not the talent in the band and b) I was bricking it. Luckily there was some talent in the band....

“As an aside we also had a tremendous band van.

“If you went over 40 it started shaking violently and lurched across the road towards the oncoming traffic.

“It once broke down and we borrowed one from another band with a broken windscreen and no brakes.

“A golden era of local bands and their vans.”