Drinking and Licensed Premises

Last updated on 24 February 2024

Early Inn

From references in Potter’s publication ‘A History of Tollerton’ (1929) there is evidence that suggests there was once an inn in Tollerton in the mid-1300s called the ‘John at the Church’, suggesting it was at the church end of the village. Such evidence came through drink induced events that were recorded in the Coroner’s Rolls. Potter also indicated that, early in the 17th century a young Tollerton farmer, whilst under examination at the Admiralty Court, incidentally referred to an alehouse in Tollerton near his father’s house. The likely location of this inn is near Bassingfield Farm but this can not be verified. It was said to have had one guest bed and stabling for two horses. There also appears to have been an application for a license in the 19th century which was refused but no reasons were given for this refusal.

What is known is that, unlike many neighbouring villages like Plumtree and Normanton on the Wolds, there has not been a long established inn or public house in Tollerton though there is plenty of evidence that substantial quantities of alcohol were consumed by some village residents! The Air Hostess on the corner of Stanstead Avenue and Burnside Grove was built in the late 1960s following a proposal to the Parish Council and considerable deliberations. Many meetings were held at the Methodist Hall to discuss whether Tollerton actually needed a public house at all and there was some opposition to this proposal.

The Air Hostess

Records suggest that the Air Hostess was named after East Midlands Airport which opened in 1965 though some sources suggest it was named after Tollerton Airport. On the day this public house was opened, air hostesses from East Midlands Airport came to the opening event dressed in their uniforms adding a touch of glamour to the occasion.

The pub was originally owned by Home Brewery Co Ltd of Daybrook, Notts. In 1986 Scottish & Newcastle Breweries acquired the company along with its 447 tied houses and then sold out to Everards Brewery in March 2005.

Until 2011 a figure-head type of sign of an air hostess resplendent in her blue uniform hung outside the pub (see opposite) but was then replaced with a more conventional hanging sign depicting a painting of an air hostess. In 2014 further major refurbishment took place and the Air Hostess took on a totally different appearance, both inside and out. All signs of that air hostess have now disappeared apart from the name

The pub is unusual in having a piste for playing pétanque (French boules) and has it’s own pétanque team which is part of the East Midlands League and holds regular matches and meetings. For many years it has also hosted a programme of live rock music on Sunday evenings.

On Plough Monday (first Monday after Twelfth Night) the Plough Play has been performed by the Tollerton Ploughboys and, since 2002, has completed its performances at the Air Hostess. The history and significance of the Plough Play is further considered in the ‘Farms and Farming’ chapter of this publication.

Picture of The Tollerton Ploughboys performing at the Air Hostess in 2002.

The Flying Club

Prior to the opening of the Air Hostess local residents might have drunk either at the Tollerton Flying Club or possibly went to one of the pubs in surrounding villages e.g. The Griffin in Plumtree which according to parish records opened in 1843 or The Plough at Normanton on the Wolds that opened around 1823.

Advertisement for the Tollerton Flying Cub

One person, whose father joined the Tollerton Flying Club in the late 1950s, recalls that the clubhouse was originally two wooden buildings close together and their interiors were furnished with leather arm chairs and sofas; much flying memorabilia was mounted around the walls. It was later refurbished and became a popular meeting point for Tollerton residents providing bar and restaurant facilities.

Peter Brooker, a Tollerton resident, also remembers how well attended their Saturday evening discos were in the 1960s and 70s. In the early 1980s Grand Metropolitan took it over and ran it as a restaurant called ‘The Inn at Tollerton’.

Shortly after refurbishment the building was totally destroyed by fire in 1982. Barbara Storrie, a Tollerton resident, remembers that fateful evening, recalling how she and some friends disbelieved initial alerts to leave the premises as the roof burnt and carried on talking and drinking. Only when everyone behind them started to panic did they vacate the premises, clutching their drinks of course, to find fire engines blocking the whole of the driveway into the airport. Her treasured old Austin 1100 car was parked just in front of the now burning building but she was intent on moving it to safety despite everyone’s pleas to leave it. Barbara and the car, now removed from the ravages of the fire, were safe and she stood watching in disbelief as the building burnt down.

In subsequent years an Indian restaurant was established here and, despite a recent change in ownership, remains so to this day.

Tollerton Hall Country Club

By 1929, Tollerton Hall Country Club was open and available to non-residents but would have been beyond the means of most Tollerton residents. An advertisement in the Nottingham Evening Post (15 April, 1929) indicated that their dinner dance was available to non-residents at the price of 12s 6d per person; dance only from 8.00pm onwards at 6s 6d each.

Tollerton Hall Country Club Bar

According to a survey of juveniles’ wages undertaken by the Ministry of Labour in 1929, young women aged between 18 and 20 years could have expected to earn about 20 shillings per week in an office or factory, while boys might have got about 22 shillings. A publication promoting the country club around the date of its opening shows an artist’s impression of their cocktail bar – see image on previous page. Cocktails were by then in vogue within some circles and this image depicts a very elegant ambience and shows men dressed in tail coats – perhaps not the sort of place local people would have called in to for a swift pint or two or a port and lemon!

Drinking Habits

There is evidence to suggest that drink flowed freely in some parts of the village and certain residents, like Pendock Barry of Tollerton Hall, gained a reputation for consuming large quantities of alcohol during his time as Lord of the Manor. It is said that he acquired the habit of drinking to excess whilst at University and at the Court Hearing (Barry v Butlin, 1838), when Pendock Barry Barry contested his father’s will, a number of witnesses made references to his heavy drinking. It is possible that all this drink contributed to his known eccentric behaviour and impaired mental facility that many accounts made reference to.

Pendock Barry also plied others with drink on some occasions. When the pinfold near the junction of Tollerton and Cotgrave Lanes was rebuilt around 1830 the old squire “gave the workmen such liberal potions that a drunken orgy at the smithy marked the completion of the new building“. (Potter, 1929)

Further insights gained from Potter indicate that the village had its own stocks and that they were last used about 1845 when a drunken man was put in the stocks “until he recovered sobriety“. It would appear that the stocks, although apparently unused thereafter, remained near the pinfold for some time. Perhaps a reminder to all of the rough discipline handed out within the community in those days.

There have been discussions amongst members of the Tollerton Village History Group about the possibility of there having been a small brewhouse at or near Bassingfield Farm on Tollerton Lane but this can not be verified. However it is known from Frank Plowright’s accounts of this property that barrels of Shipstone’s ale were kept here but apparently only for their own consumption.

One of James Shipstone’s sons – Thomas (known as Tommy), his wife and children lived at Edwalton Hall from 1891 so not so far away from Tollerton.

A New license

Towards the end of 2014 ‘The Secret Larder’ the coffee shop/deli on Burnside Grove, near the Parish Rooms, gained a license and had a makeover, providing a convivial meeting place for residents and those visiting this area.