FORESTERS ARMS, WELLINGBOROUGH ROAD

Roger Vick's memories of The Foresters Arms,

"I was able to confirm the address of the Forresters Arms, 226, Wellingborough Rd, Northampton. I see that the pub no longer exists, and that the address is now a

different building occupied by Coral Bookmakers & Turf Accountants. I understand that the old pub was one of many that were known as "mens' clubs," and catered to workers of the

boot and shoe factories of the day. In addition to its draft beer and darts, this particular pub was noted for its game of skittles.

 My great uncle, Will Spence, had been a clicker in the Northampton shoe manufacturing industry prior to WW 2, and he and his wife Betty and ran the Foresters Arms in his retirement.

It was a busy place during WW2 when I would visit there as a child. The upper floors of the building were vacant and entirely devoid of carpets, wall hangings and furniture at that time,

and I understand that these upstairs rooms were not safe for habitation. I do not know whether Will Spence owned the Pub, or if he simply managed it for a company.  

 

I was about ten years old when I would occasionally bicycle to the pub from our home in Weston Favell. I probably took my life in my hands riding through the traffic,

especially when convoys of army lorries were on the move down Wellingborough Road. One day there was a fatal accident when someone opened a car door and

knocked a young boy off his bike into traffic. I believe that my excursions were officially terminated at that point. (Incidentally, I had been evacuated from Scunthorpe

to live with relatives for the duration of the war, while my dad served in the R.A.F.)

 

Betty Spence was a jolly and outgoing character, so enjoyed the pub life. She would comment on how little the American servicemen understood the pounds, shillings

and pence of British currency. She said that she would never short-change them, but most didn't know one coin from another.

 

Will was a quiet character, and was very conscientious in retreating to the cellar to ensure that the quality of the beer was up to standard. As a tall long-legged young man

Will had been a champion runner, I am told, and his sense of humour was evident when he challenged me one day to a foot race from the side door for a measured distance

down East Street. He was probably in his seventies by that time, so I had a pretty good idea that I could beat him. On the count of three I sprang from my starting position

at top speed, but Uncle Will took only three steps before his dog jumped at him -- and the race was void. He said that he would have beaten me if it wasn't for the dog, Bogey.

 

Bogey was a small, black, smooth haired dog, and Betty and Will would often relate how smart that dog was. If anyone entered the bar before opening time he would bark

his head off, but remained silent once the clock indicated open hours.

 

With my mother and sister I enjoyed at least one Christmas at the Foresters Arms. Food rationing made it difficult to put on any great spread, but Aunt Betty stretched the

meat in the form of a meat-loaf, cut tissue thin. As we finished the meal with steamed suet pudding and sweet sauce, she would beam around the table and remark

"You wouldn't think that there was a war on, would you?" We would all agree heartily. All except Uncle Will, who had earlier stated his preference for "a little bit of fish,"

and promptly retreated to his duties in the cellar."

Roger Vick

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

 

 

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