Those who have read my blog on the Pompadours pub (aka the “Flying Bottles”) may have got the impression that all of Harold Hill was a nest of malcontents, vicious thugs and criminal with no moral compass. This is not true. I used to frequent many not so scary pubs that littered the Hill so I feel I can say with some expertise, that there are/were many others that were friendly, accommodating, tolerant and all round enjoyable places to imbibe the odd pint or three.
A local pub near to where I lived was the “Bow and Arrow” in Straight Road. It was just round the corner from where we lived and soon after meeting my next door neighbour Bob Imry, we started to meet there each evening (as shifts permitted) after work. Another regulars were two pipe & boiler laggers. They both died, in a great deal of distress, from the industrial disease asbestosis some years later. They were both comedians, who could turn any event or situation into a farcical narrative without any effort at all.
The Bow and Arrows was a nice happy family pub that catered for ordinary people who neither wanted nor sort confrontation of any kind. We were a close knit community where even if we didn’t know each other’s names and personal histories, we were content to be in the each others company. There was background music playing all the time but it wasn’t intrusive and conversations could take place at the various tables set out with comfortable chairs. The Bow and Arrow became more focused for me when without my knowledge my eldest daughter Rita (just eighteen) asked the landlord if she might work there. I think she introduced herself as my daughter. He readily agreed and although the work was some times hard with long hours she absolutely loved the experience. Telling me that many of the other regulars were really nice people who were just like our family. I made a number of new friends through her, and we stayed friends for years after.
It came as a shock when the landlord announced that the was selling up and moving down to the West Country. Within a week or so, the Bow and Arrow was boarded up and my close friends and I had to find a new venue to meet in. Within a short period of time we were surprised to see the old Bow & Arrow was converted into a MacDonald’s Burger take-away. That series of events fairly knocked our small community for six.