Childhood memories of new-look pub
A woman whose parents were the original landlord and lady of a landmark Tilehurst pub has recalled her childhood memories as she looks forward to its reopening on February 3.
The Bear is being refurbished as a bar and grill by Spirit Pub Company, after standing derelict for three years.
Christine Lay, 87, of Oak Tree Road, was heartbroken when it was boarded up in 2008 after then owners, The Orchid Group, went into administration.
But The Chronicle exclusively revealed last month that Spirit Pub Company - which owns 800 pubs nationwide - is spending £500,000 on the revamp and this week we can reveal it will be re-named The Water Tower, thanks to a reader.
Mrs Lay, whose parents Albert and Clare Rex moved into The Bear as newlyweds in 1921 when it was in Bridge Street, said: "My parents transferred the licence to the new Park Lane pub in 1938, when I was 14, just before World War Two. We were the first people to live there and my father was the landlord until he retired 25 years later.
"I absolutely loved the pub and remember I used to help out behind the bar when I was a teenager, but I would have to stand on the crates to pour pints because I couldn't reach."
Mrs Lay, who still lives in Tilehurst, added: "It broke my heart when it was boarded up because I have so many memories there and when I saw in the paper that it is being refurbished, I was over the moon. I will be keen to get down there and have a look when it's finished."
Once transformed the pub will have plasma television screens, a pool table, a darts board and a new menu specialising in grilled steaks served on
Building work to extend the kitchen and trading area began earlier this month, with the restored pub bringing 30 jobs to the area.
Tilehurst's Darren Steward, 38, entered a competition run by our sister paper, the Reading Midweek, to rename the pub, inspired by the landmark water tower, which has stood in Park Lane since 1932.
Darren said: "I'm thrilled to have won the competition, I feel strongly about the pub and I'm honoured to have had an impact on its future.
"The pub is an iconic part of the town, just as the water tower is. I felt it was appropriate, given their proximity to each other, that the pub begin its new life under a name that represents the town's heritage."
l The pub is hosting recruitment days to find a team of staff at Tilehurst Village Hall in Victoria Road on Thursday, January 12, from 4pm onwards.
Prospective staff can call and book a specific time slot or talk to someone in advance by calling Mike Cekalla, new general manager of The Water Tower, on 0753 2231067.
This article appeared in Reading Chronicle 06 Jan 12
Have your say. Post a comment on this article.
Jul 7, 01:26
I was delighted to read Mrs Lay's comments about the newly named Water Tower.I was a small boy when it was built and called the Bear Inn. In fact I was born in a bungalow about two hundred yards away from the pub along Langley Hill. I knew Mrs Lay's younger brother Colin who attended Reading School with me in the early 1940's.
I have lived in Canada for over forty years, and I noticed that the place had been shuttered up when I last visited Tilehurst a few years ago. So I have read about the re birth of the place in the e- Reading Chronicle with some interest.
Recommend? Yes 0 No 0