Is Bob Taylor South Kesteven’s longest-serving publican?
John Fairhurst was recently recognised by Grantham Area Campaign for Real Ale for 25 years behind the bar at the White Swan in Barrowby, but among those celebrating John’s loyal service was 77 year-old Bob.
Bob has worked in the pub trade since he was 14. He and his wife, 64-year-old Liz Taylor, currently run the Springfield Arms on Springfield Road, Grantham, close to Wellies fish and chip shop.
However, Bob and Liz are perhaps best known for running the Dirty Duck public house at Woolsthorpe-by-Belvoir, which Bob previously ran for around 40 years.
Bob grew up in the village and began work at the nearby Chequers, washing up, wine waiting and working as a barman. In 1971, he took over the Dirty Duck, a popular weekend attraction by the side of the canal. He said what attracted him to the pub trade was it being in his blood.
He said: “My mum was in it, my sister was in it, my brother used to be barman at The Chequers.”
Wife Liz said: “He loved it, he ate it, he breathed it, everything.”
Bob met Liz, a widow, around 30 years ago in Foston. They have been together over 28 years and married for nine years.
Looking back at his earlier days, Bob said: “The trade was completely different then. It was before the breathalyser, before the smoking ban. It was a very good business to be in in those days. It has sadly deteriorated since then.”
Bob knew the landlord of the Springfield Arms, Bob Fraser, and when Bob “popped his clogs” 18 years ago, his widow approached Bob to buy the pub and he did. The couple installed a manager before taking it over themselves three years ago.
Now, they plan to install a commercial kitchen and serve food, hopefully by the summer. Back in the day at the Dirty Duck, they would serve 150 Sunday lunches.
Bob said: “We are suffering. Pubs don’t seem to be doing it on their own nowadays. Hopefully, this will put things right a bit. We are clean and tidy, the ale is good. We do a few draft ales, Guiness and lager, Abbotts and Newton’s drop.”
Over the years, the pair have come to know customers so well, they know what they want before they order.
Liz said: “They want to sit in the pub and have a conversation. We meet some very nice people but also some strange ones. There’s no dislikes really from running a pub.”
Bob added: “We are going to get the pub back on its feet with food and after that, probably put it on the market. We are not getting any younger. We will retire eventually but at the moment we are quite well. I have had 47 years as a landlord and licensee. To be a landlord, you have to want it.”
Neville Lomas, chairman of Grantham area CAMRA, praised Bob and Liz as a ‘lovely couple who complement each other’.
“Bob’s just such a lovely fella, his charm and personality comes over.”
Neville also describes Bob as a “likeable rogue” who will use his “cheekiness” to score good deals from suppliers.
He said the Springfield Arms serving food has the potential for success as there’s no cafes locally and it might get take-away trade from nearby factory workers. But Neville added the couple will have to advertise it to make it succeed.