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Andrew Monkhouse
Thursday, August 2, 2007 21:35
Leonard Myers - former landlord of the Kings Arms
I was saddened to hear the news that the former landlord of the Kings Arms in Sutton, Leonard Myers passed away at the end of July. The Skipton Craven Herald wrote up a lovely obituary outlining a short biography of Leonard’s life.

I well remember Leonard and his wife Dolly from the day I turned eighteen in 1978 and started frequenting the Kings Arms (my favourite watering ‘ole) on a regular basis for several years. A couple of Kings Arms folklore tales spring to mind when I think of Leonard, incidents that happened a few years before my time around the early to mid-70s, but later confirmed to me by the big fella himself on questioning.

The first concerns the Kings Arms ‘burglar’. My Dad came home from one of his Sunday lunchtime tipple sessions and told us that Leonard had caught a burglar the previous night. By all accounts, Leonard had locked up and retired to his living quarters. Sometime after mid-night he heard what he thought was the sound of pound notes rustling from inside the pub downstairs (the till back then was a simple wooden drawer, not a cash registry and was therefore not emptied nightly).

On investigation Leonard was just in time to see the burglar attempting to exit through an opened small top window on the North Rd side of the building. The burglar had one leg out and was just about to escape when Leonard grabbed his other dangling leg, pulled him back into the pub, sat on him and squashed him ! The burglar was so terrified that he lost total control of his bowels, Leonard said there was a hell of a smell whilst waiting for the boys in blue to arrive and arrest him !

The other folklore tale concerns the ‘stolen Xmas turkey’. Again my Dad came home from a Sunday lunchtime turps session just after Christmas Day one year to tell us that someone had stolen Leonard and Dolly’s turkey !

The lay-out of the Kings Arms is probably the same today as it was back then, with the men’s lavatory outside at the back of the pub down a couple of steps. On the way to the lav’ one had to walk past the house kitchen with its opened door. The mouth-watering aroma of Dolly’s home-made cooking and baking was just sensational, especially after a few pints of wallop. This was obviously too much for one particular patron this Xmas Day because he quietly slipped into the kitchen and took off with the fully cooked Xmas turkey complete with stuffing !

Poor Leonard, Dolly and the rest of the family had to make do with brussel sprouts and the other veggies, minus the turkey that particular Xmas. The culprit was never identified which was probably just as well because Leonard’s treatment of ‘burglars’ was well known by this stage. It would have been one thing stealing his pound notes, but stealing the big fella’s turkey would have been pure suicidal !

A few years later I started frequenting the Kings Arms and got to know Leonard and Dolly personally. Everything was routine based with Leonard ‘opening up’ at 5.30pm (Monday to Saturday) and 7.00pm on Sundays.

He would then spread the Telegraph & Argus over the counter and read the evening paper in between serving customers. Occasionally, their dog Minty would make an opportunistic break from the living quarters and scamper into the pub, tail wagging, sniffing everything at 100 miles per hour. Leonard would bellow “Minty” and the dog would duck its head and slowly, very reluctantly, walk back into the house. Apparently they had originally thought of calling the dog Whisky, but a landlord shouting out “Whisky” in a pub could have been taken to mean free drinks !

At 8.00pm each evening Dolly would take over duties in the main bar and Leonard was then free to ‘supervise’ the boys playing doms in the tap-room – a tough job but somebody had to do it !

This entailed Leonard sitting around the corner in the tap-room just out of sight of Dolly with a beer tray on the table in front of him. Once 2 or 3 people had finished their pints, Leonard would arrange the empties on his tray and trot off around the bar to re-fill them + pull a discreet pint for himself. His cardigan pockets had loose change in them and his upper shirt pocket had a few notes, so money and change was exchanged with no till in sight ! (life was much simpler back then)

It was a wonderful arrangement, tap-room waiter service by the landlord all evening so the patrons were happy, a pint for Leonard every time he went to the bar so the landlord was happy – actually very happy by the end of the night and he was making a living at the same time.

After I was made redundant in 1980 with the closure of Hartley’s Mill, I was telling Leonard about an upcoming job interview I had in the Lake District for a bar-man position. With that Leonard invited me around the back of the bar for the rest of the evening to coach me on pulling pints and handling money – that’s the kind of guy he was, always considerate and friendly.

I think the way that Leonard and Dolly ran the Kings Arms back then was quite unique, simple but very effective. The pub had a genuine and warm ‘family’ atmosphere. Leonard will be fondly remembered and missed by those who knew him.
anne matthews
Saturday, August 4, 2007 13:43
I will pass on your e mail re leonard to my sister Dolly she will be really pleased to read it.Thank you.
Andrew Monkhouse
Sunday, August 5, 2007 00:51
No worries Anne, please pass on my warmest regards to Dolly

It was quite a family affair for a while back there. Your sister Dolly and Leonard pulling the pints in the pub and supper beckoning next door with yourself and Stanley frying the fish & chips. Blissful times, the likes of which will probably never be seen again !

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