The Hartlepool landlady who had her own pub choir

Our 1960 story on Mrs G - Lila Gilfoyle.

Our 1960 story on Mrs G - Lila Gilfoyle.

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She was the genial host who was held in such high regard, she attracted a regular choir to her pub.

Today, Chris Cordner asks for memories of Lila Gilfoyle who was better known in Hartlepool as Mrs G.

Lila Gilfoyle.

Lila Gilfoyle.

Every week, a group of men would gather at the Queen’s Head in Hartlepool and sing their favourite songs.

A dozen regulars made up the choir and they had gathered at the popular hostelry for more than 20 years.

But mine hostess Lila Gilfoyle never understood why - especially as her pub did not have a piano.

The reason, it seemed, was because of their love for Lila. They liked Mrs G and her happy bar.

Mrs Gilfoyle has never understood why they gather in a piano-less house week after week for their singsong. They would tell her that it is because they liked Mrs G and her happy bar

Northern Daily Mail reporter, 1961

So much so that it was a sad occasion when Mrs G finally parted company with the Durham Street hostelry for Canada.

She swapped England for a new life and brought an end to a 40-year association with Hartlepool.

Today, we look back at a woman who made countless friends after coming to Hartlepool from her former hometown of Harwick, where she was a shoe shop assistant.

When she was 19, she married a soldier she met while on a day trip to Dovercote.

Mr and Mrs Dovecote came to Hartlepool in 1920 because most of her family had already moved there and had sent back encouraging reports.

At first, Mr Gilfoyle started work on the railway, but had had enough after 16 years there, mainly on night duty.

That’s when the couple took over the management of the Queen’s Head in 1935, but they did it during tough times for the town.

Unemployment was reaching frightening levels and people did not really have much money to spend in the ‘local’.

Mr Gilfoyle went back to the railway while his wife took over in the pub - and so started the building of a wonderful reputation.

Our Northern Daily Mail report of 1960 said: “Appearing neat, unruffled and charming behind the bar twice a day, she established an enviable reputation as mine hostess.

“The Queen’s Head was the happy local, but also one of the quietest.”

When Mrs G finally called time on her hostelry days, friends, customers and business colleagues all wanted to say ‘thank you’.

They presented her with a brooch, and a party was held where she received a travelling clock, holdall and bouquet.

Our 1960 report said: “Stars of the party were members of the Queen’s Head Men’s Choir which consists of a dozen regulars who have visited the house for more than 20 years.

“They gave some spirited renderings of the old time songs without the aid of a piano.

“Mrs Gilfoyle has never understood why they gather in a piano-less house week after week for their singsong.

“They would tell her that it is because they liked Mrs G and her happy bar.”

If you can tell us more about Mrs G and the Queen’s Head, email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk