Saturday 3 September 2011


by Dave Roberts

The Kings Arms Hotel, on the corner of Queen Street and Hightown and, as can be seen from the photo, within a few feet of St Michael's church tower. Like all the town's pubs the 'Kings' has had mixed fortunes over the years. The building is reputed to have started life as a churchwarden's house and has been much altered over the years. It was my local for ten years from the early 70s to the early 80s and was forever in need of a lick of paint and some basic repair work. I would spend hours listening to the ramblings of the 'early doors' crowd, an education which stood me in good stead when it came to writing 'comic verse'.  The place always seemed to be full of 'characters', a status which, in my ignorance, I aspired to myself until I realised, with horror, just what an insult the term was.
There are many tales to be told about the Kings Arms in the 70s, but here is not the place to do it. Suffice it to say that it was a rough and ready sort of place. The name 'hotel' was a misnomer - it had been a hotel at one time but, in the 70s,  the upstairs rooms were mostly given over to accomodation for the landlord and his family (although there was a 'function room' which, in 1974, was the birthplace of  'Dees Disco' ). In fact the original hotel room doors had been cut up to construct the downstairs bar and, if you ever ventured behind it, you could find the metal room numbers still affixed in various places.
One abiding memory is of the landlord of the Kings Arms decribing a rival pub as 'a dive' - as clear a case of the pot calling the kettle black as I've ever heard.
Things looked up a little in 1993 when the pub was taken over, extended, and refurbished by Frank Steed, an experienced pub manager who was succeeded by John Chapman, the current owner of what is now a free house.
Recently John spent a lot of money restoring the pub to something of its former glory, and he is to be congratulated on the way the pub looks now.

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