Jim Parker: Granfer, Boxing Day, the Little Albert and a shed-load of memories

Torbay Weekly

It goes without saying that Christmas Day itself was special for the Parkers and Tuckers in years gone by, but there was something about Boing Day which made it extra special.

Uncle John, me, my brother, Dad and last but not least Gramp, Granfer, the head of the family. All tucked into the Little Albert pub. We didn't have much in those days. But we had each other. We had family. And that was never more evident the precious moments such as those in the Little Albert.

I miss them and I miss all those who have left us. Mum, dad, nan and Granfer, a quiet man who didn't say a lot who reckoned he was deaf but heard everything he wanted to hear.

A plumber for Henry Keen (I  think) for many years. I have memories of him coming down over Westhill on his bike from their base in St Marychuch.

A very proud man who served in the war as a Desert Rat but never talked about it,  but years on still had terrible nightmares and flashbacks to the truly horrendous moments when his comrades and best friends were being killed before his very eyes.

A man I got to know as he got older with him and his old pal Gordon Bannister waiting for me and Mr Torquay United Dave Thomas for a game of lunchtime euchre down at the old 'Buff' Club or a swift half and a pint of mild for a quick break at the Prince of Orange.

A man proud of his family. He wasn't one to show emotions  but I will never forget the tear in his eye when he looked around the room at Aunt Jen's and knew that was to be the last Boxing Day he was to spend with us.

Why the memories all of a sudden?

It's just that the Little Albert has been in the news. Sadly its days as a pub are over.

Evidently, the Victorian back-street pub which has been the subject of noise complaints from neighbours is to be turned into homes.

Torbay Council has approved a change of use request for the pub in Havelock Road, which closed last year.

The pub, at the end of a row of terraced houses in the St Marychurch Conservation Area, was built between 1830 and 1860.

The council’s licensing officer Julie Smart supported the application from Paignton-based White Rose Taverns to turn the ground floor of the premises into two flats.

In a separate application, another old pub also bit the dust as the council approved a retrospective request to turn the former Clipper Inn in Melville Street, Torquay, into a home.

The building dates to the 1840s and was recorded as a pub in 1917. It was known first as the Melville and was one of three pubs in the Melville Street area, one of the oldest parts of Torquay.

How sad to see these pubs, which are part of the Bay's history, closed and gone for ever. For many of them the writing was on the wall way before the pandemic.

Covid has simply been the final straw for many of our old-fashioned locals, pubs which used to sit at the heart of the community and bring that community together. Especially at Christmas times and when me, Uncle John, brother Andrew, dad and dear old Gramp used to enjoy over at the Little Albert. Now all  we have are the memories.