Thanks to this reader who wrote down her reactions on seeing what has been happening on the site of the old Bird In Hand pub on the Hilderstone Road, and who asked us to publish them.
(If you too would like to write a little piece for us, just email us)
Hi. Well… what can I say?? …such I shock I had on re-visiting the Bird In Hand!!!
I was going on a trip down memory lane, and was in the area, and dropped in. But the site brought me to tears and is doing as I write this now.
This is because I started my life there in 1966 – my grandparents Mr Robert Ball and Nancy Ball ran the pub. My mother Sandra Williams, who married David Harkness and became Sandra Harkness, also lived and worked there.
I have many happy memories of the place: the hunt meetings; the strawberries growing in the back (which me and my sister attacked!); being found outside after a full search for us …lol !…. Happy times, with so many memories revisited though the years.
When I last visited a bit ago (in my late twenties) I called in with my sister Wendy and our old neighbour from Trent Vale.
I could not believe it when a lady walked over and asked if I was Sandra’s daughter !!!! As we had left when I was two, going on three, I was amazed that she could recognise me…. how I must look like my mum… lol … and she then informed me that she had been my mother’s head bridesmaid. We chatted and caught up on life.
I was told by a friend that the pub had closed down – and when I went to see the old place, I was hoping to show my partner where I and my and family had started my life in catering and the hospitality trade.
What a shock!!
I thought maybe it was for sale or boarded-up – but never that it had been demolished – and what for?? Nothing, at the moment.
It looks ruined: so sad, very sad.
Just wish I could have had something to remind me of the place … but memories are always here and I do have some photos.
What a lovely building and home it made – and could have made again !!!!
Well. Life goes on – and in this case not always for the best.
The pub, which is in the furthest south-west corner of the Draycott district, closed in 2005, because the new owners were not able to carry on the business. Although it is within Draycott, the nearest neighbours are in Hilderstone – where the parish council supported the call for redevelopment of the site.
Demolition at the Bird In Hand started in early 2012, but work stopped when the work was half-finished.
It’s said that there had been a pub on the corner there, with its own brewery and malthouse, for almost 200 years. The owners for nearly the whole of its existence were the Shelley family (which is still a well-known name in Hilderstone).
Down the years, each Shelley heir kept up the tradition of brewing their own beer on-site – right up until the 1950s*, when the family finally gave up the business.
I wonder if anyone still remembers what a ‘pint of Shelley’s’ tasted like?
*There is some dispute about the date when brewing stopped at The Bird In Hand. Another history says it stopped at the pub in the 1920s, not the 1950s. If you know, why not add a comment in the comment-box below?