Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Drum and Monkey

At the back of Number 44 Stratford Road was another house which housed one of Wolverton's two off-licences. You could ring a bell in the back alley and the proprietor would open the hatch and serve you. This was Wolverton's "hole in the wall" and it served for quite a long time before the general liberalisation of alcohol purchases made places such as this obsolete.

Before I go on to describe its origins there was another "hole in the wall" at the second station, just off Young Street. It was in fact marked as such on the 1880 OS Map and I presume service was from the side of the old railway Refreshment Rooms.

The house at Number 44 Stratford Road was actually Number 1 Stratford Road until the 1890s when Cambridge and Windsor Streets were built and therefore on the edge of town. The additional building at the back seems to appear in the 1880s and was run by a man named Samuel Sinfield. Sinfield was a labourer in the 1881 census living at Number 3 Stratford Road, now Avenues, estate agents, but in 1881, the about 50 years old, he is recorded in this house as a Beer Seller. It is quite possible that after the other "hole in the wall" closed down Sinfield (or whoever built the house) saw an opportunity.

In the 1950s, when I remember the place, it was possible to take along a jug to be filled with draught beer. They also sold bottled beer, cider, various bottles of pop - including something called "dandelion and burdock", cheap "Emu" sherry and cheap "Ruby" port. If you wanted anything more sophisticated you had to go to the Victoira Wine shop on the corner of Church St and Cambridge st opposite the library.

The origin of the name "Drum and Monkey" is completely obscure. There are lots of Drum and Monkeys across the land and there are various explanations of the origin of the name, none of them completely convincing. The name itself probably came to England in Victorian times when soldiers returning from overseas duty might bring back a tame monkey who could beat a drum. At one time this might have been a feature (albeit an annoying one) for some pubs. Why this should have been applied to this hole in the wall may never be known. It might have been first applied as a joke and then the name just stuck.

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