The “Welly” has had many incarnations over the years. A large, originally Whitbread, roadside boozer, it has veered from innovative ale house to roadside rough-house. At the start of the 1980s it was Madness on the jukebox and 4 or 5 beers-including Castle Eden, on the pumps. Ten years later and Shaun Ryder had replaced Suggs on the jukebox, the pub had been opened out and real ale had disappeared from the bar.
These were the wilderness years: when there was still a clutch of pubs competing for the, then, quite substantial weekend trade. The Black Maria had moved away from the George and was now a semi-permanent fixture at the Welly. On a Friday night the car park was full of testosterone fuelled lads (and lasses) getting high or getting battered. Or, on a good night, both.
However, fashion and the drugs squad wait for no man and so it was that, as we hurtled towards the millennium, the Welly had a little renaissance. The Romeos had all either grown up, moved away or were simply banged up. Likewise, their Juliets were either past it, or were knocked up and living on a council estate at the other side of town. This little window of light didn’t last long, however, and soon it had settled back into a pattern of forgettable mediocrity.
Then the big bad wolf that is Greene King came along. They did a sympathetic refurbishment-the pool table was no longer the centre piece of the pub and they upped the food operation. Real ale returned to the bar, albeit in the form of their own, rather mundane, beers. Today the Wellington enjoys a steady, mainly food led, daytime trade (lots of pensioners) and a regular clientele at weekends. It’s too clinical and pubcoish for my tastes, but at least Suggs is back on the jukebox.