A PUB is a national institution.

But for Hazel Sherriff from Buckley it was also a way of life.

Christmas brings fond memories for the 89-year-old who lived at the town’s Horse and Jockey pub for 20 years as a youngster.

The festive period always reminds her of pub life when a piano was the only source of entertainment and smoking was still legal.

“I loved living at the pub,” she told the Leader. “I have a vivid memory of it being jam-packed every night and people were always singing.

“At Christmas time a man would play carols on the piano and we would all gather round and sing our hearts out.

“Father Christmas would come into the pub and sit with the children, but I knew it wasn’t him because I recognised his voice as Chris Roberts from down the road.”

Hazel, one of ten siblings, lived in the pub from birth until 1940 when brother Alfred Shone took over its running until the mid-1970s.

At 19, Mrs Sherriff moved out of the pub into a home on Nant Mawr Road and became a typist in Chester.

The family were no strangers to running pubs – Hazel’s grandmother Kate Hughes ran the Black Lion, Buckley, and the Griffin Inn, Mynydd Isa.

“What I can most remember most were two dwarf brothers called Johnny and Jimmy Smith,” said Hazel.

“Jimmy was a great believer in God and would bypass the pub every day to go to St Matthew’s Church and pray.

“But Johnny would come to the pub every day and I would watch him struggling to get onto the chair.

“The brothers were lampmen for the colliery and we used to go round to their house and sing hymns on the piano.”

Sixty years after her time at the pub, Hazel still has vivid recollections.

“There was an old lady who used to come in every night with a jug for a pint or two,”
she said.

“But my father would never serve her because he believed that women should not drink.

“Instead he would call my mother to come and serve her.

“Buckley Town FC would also play from the Horse and Jockey and I remember there was a big rivalry between them and the Burnt Wood team. My mother would warm some milk before they came off for half-time and I would run on with cans of coffee.

“We also used to have a very successful pigeon club.”

Hazel no longer frequents her local pubs and prefers to stay at home for a tipple or two.

She believes the secret of a good pub lies in the traditional grub.

She said: “A pub will always be very successful if it provides good food and good entertainment.

“That’s what it’s all about.”