Jim Parker: Snooty Fox - pub that brings childhood memories flooding back

The former Snooty Fox pub in Fore Street, St Marychurch, Torquay. Photo: Google - LDRS

The former Snooty Fox pub in Fore Street, St Marychurch, Torquay. Photo: Google - LDRS - Credit: Archant

Will Snooty Fox go same way as those 'real' pubs for 'real' people that bring memories flooding back?

Treasured memories quite often take me back to the days of old-fashioned pubs full of local characters.

I can remember a thriving Hele Village which once had three local hostelries.

There was the Hele Conservative Club which still remains today in an area where you will do well to find Conservatives (I have never been able to work that one out) an RAOB 'Buff' Club and the infamous Royal Standard.

The very mention of the pub's name had the ability to spread instant fear amid some folk.

I spent my childhood living with my family in nan's house right next door and I often watched from the 'snug' as she worked as a barmaid there.

The Standard was full of those characters I have just mentioned and they were mostly from working class families, toiling hard during the week and having a pint or ten with a game of darts on a Friday. I can't let the darts moment go without mentioning dad's team and making my Torbay Darts League Friday night debut for the Buff Club.

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Dad eased my nerves – darts was a serious sport and watched by loads in those days – by pairing me up in the doubles with local cobbler John Clarke. I could never previously fathom out why John, a gem of a bloke, went by the name of 'Twitcher' Clarke – until he stepped up to the oche and couldn't let the darts go. I wasn't exactly overflowing with confidence but once he actually dispatched the arrows, he was quite a decent player.

Yep, the Standard was a rough and tumble place in those days just like the village itself. A group of of Wolverhampton Wanderers found that out a few years ago. Having just caused chaos at Torquay United where they had literally taken over the ground, they decided to invade the Standard on their way home. Let's just say it was painful experience as they were sent packing.

The village looked after its own and you would have struggled to find a more united spirited community on the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve when the locals from the three drinking holes stopped the traffic and joined hands to sing Auld Lang Syne.

Fantastic memories of real pubs for real, down-to-earth people. As a youngster in those days we even knocked on the doors of some pubs as Christmas carol singers. Can you see that happening today?

The Snooty Fox in St Marychurch was one such local for the locals. Sadly, over the years it has lost its way and identity a little. Landlords have come and gone and now it has joined a long list of pubs who are in danger of being lost for ever.

The licensee blamed complaints about live music for the decision to leave the pub in October 2019.

Now the Devon Air Ambulance Trust have put in a change-of-use planning application to turn the ground floor of the building into a charity shop.

Objectors want to see the Snooty refurbished and re-opened as a pub or restaurant.

Janet Barnes said the pub was valued and popular with locals.

She wrote: 'This is an opportunity to reopen as a refurbished pub or new restaurant to be enjoyed by locals whilst attracting tourists.'

A change of use application has been submitted to Torbay Council and the proposals is open for public consultation until Wednesday, September 16.

Talk about a difficult one.... a charity which warrants all the support it can get or retaining a business and building which was once a meeting place for locals for more than a century .

The Snooty Fox building was reported to date back to around 1890 when it was the Newberry's family hotel and locals used to drink in its bar and restaurant.

It then became the St George Hotel and later The Links, then finally the Snooty Fox.

Compromise time?