Memories of Stafford Street

Memories of Stafford Street

Memories of Stafford Street

Saturday Night Out

Ever since the weekend was invented, people have looked forward to their Saturday night out. During recent times this activity has centred on the public house, which has become a popular meeting place. Many people enjoy going out for a quiet drink, but the highlight of a Saturday night out in Stafford Street was nothing like this. It was the venue of the Saturday night drinking competition.

The rules were simple. The competitors met in the Criterion, in Princes Square, and placed bets on who would be the last to remain standing after drinking a large amount of beer. Each competitor drank a pint of beer in the Criterion and then proceeded from pub to pub along Stafford Street, drinking a pint at each one. The winner was the last person to remain upright.

George describes the activity as follows:

There were lots of pubs down there you know. On a Saturday night they used to have a wager. They used to start at the Criterion, come to Stafford Street in the George, then into the Vine, the Hibernian, the Four Ashes, the Britannia, the Junction, the Elephant & Castle, the Windmill and the Hussar on the other side. They then continued down Stafford Street and visited the Cottage Spring, and the North Road Working Men's club. There were all of those pubs. They used to have a bet, have a pint in each pub, and the one that was still standing won the money. If they were still standing at the Working Men's Club, they went on further down, across Stafford Road, where there were as many pubs again from there to Bushbury Lane.

The Criterion, where the competition began.

On a Saturday night, I used to come here, at 10 o'clock, stand on the footpath and watch them turning them out of the Hibernian. They had a hell of a game turning them out, there used to be fights, fights, always fights. Nothing but fights, with the Irish people who lived in the area.

By the pub was Edwards' yard, where you could hire trucks and trolleys. The police used to come in large numbers because they knew they had got a lot of trouble.

Every Saturday and Sunday, Saturday especially, they would get these blokes, one copper would hold one or two of them with the hand-cuffs, and the other one would go and fetch one of Edwards' trucks, and put two of them on, and tie them on with some orange rope that they had from the market patch, where they had been selling oranges in boxes.

The rope was used to tie the boxes up. They used to tie them on and take them down to Red Lion Street, two at a time. We also used the orange rope as skipping ropes, because we couldn't buy one.

The Hogshead, which used to be the Vine.

You would always see a rough and tumble. The George had a bad reputation, but nothing like the Hibernian, and then there was the Four Ashes and the Britannia. They had some rough clients, but nothing like the Irish people that used to go into the Hibernian. There was also the Dan O'Connell in Westbury Street, 200 yards from the Olympia. That was our entertainment on a Saturday night.

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