Hanging Around In Whitefield

The Southport Drinker recently did a piece highlighting Albert Pierrepoint’s role as a local licensee. Never afraid of plagiarising a good idea, I thought I’d do the same for Harry Allen.

Harry Bernard Allen (1911-1992) was Britian’s last hangman. He reached the peak of his somewhat dubious profession after some 14 years as Pierrepoint’s deputy. People tend to get the two confused and indeed many think that Albert had a pub in Bury, when it was actually Harry. In those days, despite the important nature of their job, executioners weren’t well paid and had to maintain a “proper” job. Mr & Mrs Allen had run a pub in Farmworth-the Rawsons Arms, before taking over the Junction Hotel in Whitefield in July 1952.

The Junction was the last pub to be built by Bury’s own Crown Brewery, and, in time, it duly passed to Duttons and then Whitbread. It was in its final incarnation as a Tetley outlet that I became familiar with it. Sadly, as with so many pubs on the main road to Manchester, it’s no longer here to entertain us. However, locals of a certain age still fondly recall Harry and his first wife, Marjorie. It appears he was a popular landlord and stayed at the helm for 11 years until his retirement in 1963.

Harry made the local press in 1960 when he became the first publican in the town to organise a foreign trip, when he took some regulars to Holland. A little later he went one better and took some seventy punters with him for three days in Barcelona. Language lessons were courtesy of his son’s Spanish wife, Angeles. I believe his son, Brian, still resides locally in Bolton. Of course there are many tales at the expense of his “other job” and whether apocryphal or not, they are quite entertaining. Like the passing motorist who broke down and enquired at the pub whether Harry “had a length of rope he could borrow.” I certainly would have liked to see the two murals that apparently hung upstairs-one portraying Newgate Gaol and the other, the Old Bailey. Truly a case of art imitating life, I'd say.


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