The directory of community and business organisations in Broadstone Dorset


Residents Association MagazinearrowWinter 2001/15

THAT'S PROGRESS

With the granting. of Planning Permission for six bungalows on the site of the Duke of York public house it was apparent that Broadstone was about to lose one of its three pubs. It had enjoyed a relatively short life. Built by Eldridge Pope in 1965 it had been owned and managed by this Dorchester brewer until recently. It was one of a numbet of pubs.,including the Beehive, which were sold to Inn Town Pubs when Eldridge Pope decided to reduce its estate.

My approach to Eldridge Pope for an article about the pub to include any newsworthy anecdotes was refused in an abrupt three line letter. Even a follow up phone call failed to produce a spark of cooperation. I was lucky tofindalocal resident who remembered the time before the pub,known then as The Skittlers,was built on a field where a few
cows chewed the cud. This same local resident supported the pub through thick and thin until it closed. If there are any inaccuracies in his story I can only apologise and point out that the former owners were given every opportunity to provide a factual account.

It seems that The Skittlers may have been built to satisfy the thirst of many building workers on the newly established Waterloo Estate. Certainly it was a time of great activity in the building trade and for nigh on twenty years The Skittlers prospered. There were dart teams and skittles leagues and on pay day one could not move in the. public bar. Nor were the drinkers exclusively from the ranks of labourers and bricklayers. My source stressed how well the blue colour workers mixed with the white colour workers from Plesseys. In these good times for the pub there was apparently only one change of manager.

Unfortunately the good times seem to have come to an end with the arrival of the second generation of drinkers in the 1980's. It is claimed that they did not mix as well as their predecessors and fights frequently broke out. Drugs started circulating. The pub became a place to avoid except for its loyal band of supporters. Even the brewery which had done well from its investment, neglected it in its hour of need. Photographs exist of drinkers continuing to drink under open umbrellas as water poured in off a flatroof surrounding a glass dome above the lounge bar.

The brewery appointed a succession of managers but none were capable of halting the decline. My source remembers one manager who only lasted for one night. Imagine a pub in a quiet suburban area with bouncers on the doors.

Then came the final attempt to reinvent itself. The pub was being managed by Trevoi whose wife was a former nurse. He tried to move the clientele upmarket. First there was a competition to rename it. The prize of a free meal was won by an ex printer fron Watford called Bob. The pub was redecorated and numbered tables installed tc facilitate the serving of food. Unfortunatelythe attempt to turn it from a drinker's pub into an eatery failed. So did the idea of using the skittle alley as a function room. There was a demand for facilities for functions, but the skittle alley was too narrow to be suitable when it was converted with removable floor boards.

The brewery started using the pub as a training ground for new managers. What it really needed was a manager with experience. As the trade fell, the quality of the beei declined as there was insufficient throughput.

The last manager had learned his trade in what could best be described as rough areas He was accustomed to using language which failed to attract family visits.

R.I.P. The Skittlers and The Duke of York and welcome to Braeside Developments with their six more bungalows and no watering hole within walking distance. That's progress.

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