Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Polar Bear

There is a legend on this ship
That taking down the head he keeps
Displayed above the fruit machine,
At times of need the Polar Bear
Will pass among us with a hat,
And taking the only course open, set sail
For the land of the takeout, that serves after time.
(From Those in Peril, Sean O'Brien The Indoor Park, Bloodaxe 1983)

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be or so the saying goes. The Polar Bear on Spring Bank used to be my watering hole. Five minutes walk from my rather dreadful bedsit I'd spend many hours in here supping the delicious Hull Brewery bitter, encountering, amid the smoke filled fug, some seriously daft people from Hull poets (Margot Virago, red hot from Chicago!) to delivery drivers, separatist feminists and a very strange man who departed for a commune in Angelsey... and not forgetting, as if I could, A.L the stereotypical Glaswegian drunk who would bore on loudly in the snug about Rabbie Burns and the meaning of 'Comin' Thro' the Rye' ("It's aall aboot feckin!") ...and when Martin Bormann (aka the landlord) called 'Time' there was often a bottle of cider to take out to keep the party going.

And then, well, then they had to go and 'do it up'. Take out all the old wooden panelling, remove the snug, rearrange the doors and, peccatum mortale, change the beer. They even sold off the polar bear head that used to be in the back room. They banned Staggering Ken, a man who would drink pints of Barley Wine and sway from side to side but never quite fall over while swearing and muttering abuse. No, it was never the same again. Now I've moved on and  I don't go into pubs any more I just take pictures of them.

You can, if you're interested, read the history of this pub which dates back to about 1850 here (scroll down a bit). Inside they've kept the ceramic semi-circular bar and the domed ceiling under which I played many a game of nine spot dominoes. Thanks to a campaign by CAMRA  the building is now Grade 2 listed.


  1. I've never understood why business feel the need to totally alienate their loyal patrons in an attempt to attract new ones.
    That domed ceiling seems pretty unique for a pub!

  2. Well I guess its good that it is still a pub, albeit a bad one, and not turned into a Chinese restaurant or Poundshop