BEERS mingled with tears as regulars said an emotional farewell to their favourite pub – and signed off in time-honoured tradition by drinking it dry.
Morpeth’s Old Red Bull – which dates back to 1780 – has survived being closed by the worst flooding in the town’s history, and a severe blaze which required its rebuilding at the turn of the century.
But now it is set to disappear to make way for a £24m supermarket development in the Low Stanners area, where it has been a popular watering hole for more than two centuries.
The pub closed for the final time at the weekend as regular customers drowned their sorrows to say goodbye to landlord Dean Henderson and his wife Lindsey, who have run it for 20 years.
It was packed out on Saturday night and last orders had to be called earlier than expected when it ran out of draught beer – leaving customers having to make do with bottles.
Departing regulars scribbled their own personal messages of thanks and appreciation on the pub’s door as it closed for the final time, before heading off in search of a new local.
The free house, which has been in Mr Henderson’s family for many years, will be demolished as part of the work to build a new superstore by Yorkshire-based developer Dransfield Properties.
It has built up a reputation as a friendly and welcoming pub, and regulars are said to be angry and sad at its demise.
Yesterday Andrew Cox, 32, who ran the two pool teams based at the Old Red Bull, said: “I finished work at 8pm on Saturday and when I got down to the pub at 9pm it was three or four deep at the bar and absolutely packed. By 9.30pm it had been drunk dry.
“Everyone was singing and chanting for Dean on Saturday night and both he and Lindsey were crying. It was a very emotional night because they are a very well liked couple.
“I have been drinking there since I was 18 and it’s a real shame that it has closed. We have had to relocate the pool teams to two different pubs.
“It is really sad to see it go because trade was steady every night and it was packed at the weekends.
“A lot of people are not happy about it closing. It was a very popular pub with the regulars.
“When it closed down for five months because of the floods in 2008 we had to move to another pub and the landlord couldn’t believe how many of us there were. He had to take on an extra member of staff to cope.
“Dean has worked 24/7 there for many years and it is sad to see them leave.”
Another customer, former town councillor Jonathan Ferstenberg of Fenwick Grove, Morpeth, said: “For years it has been a rare gem, a good, old-fashioned neighbourhood pub.
“On any given night you could walk into the pub and find people with a huge range of backgrounds, aged and interests. It became its own little community, yet open and friendly to all newcomers. Like many of their patrons, I’ll miss that community very much.”
Mr Henderson couldn’t be contacted for comment yesterday.