North Wales’ ‘toughest pub’ with £1 pints and £300 behind the bar for Sunday session

The former landlord of a North Wales pub that appeared as one of Britain’s toughest boozers in a documentary series has shared his thoughts on his old establishment appearing on the show. Tony Taylor used to run the Old Vaults, now under new ownership and called The Long Pull, on Chester Street in Wrexham for a couple of years in the early 2000s.

The 59-year-old took over the pub from his parents in 2003 before parting ways with it just two years later. But during those two years, Mr Taylor had an eventful run as the landlord, overseeing one of its busiest periods in recent decades, reports North Wales Live.

One of the wildest days of running the pub began one Sunday morning when a Sky film crew arrived at the inn to shoot an episode of ‘The Toughest Pubs in Britain’ in 2004. The producers put £300 behind the bar and the results were then captured on camera.

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After a day’s worth of filming, the footage was condensed into a five minute segment on the non-PC Sky 3 show and immortalized some of the pub’s old regulars in the process. While not overly happy with how some of the footage was edited, the former landlord now looks back fondly on his time at the pub and is happy that clips of the show continue to exist on YouTube as they capture some of the old regulars, some of whom have since passed away.

Mr Taylor, who now runs a parking ticket appeal business, said: “The show was filmed on Sunday, starting in the morning, and the producers put £300 behind the bar. Sundays were busy days for us back then anyway because it was pound -a-pint so you can imagine that people were quite intoxicated by the end of the day.

Former Old Vaults landlord Tony Taylor

“Most of the pubs in Wrexham had refused to go on the show but I didn’t mind having the cameras there and the customers definitely enjoyed it – even more so as the day went on. My reaction to the show itself was mixed at the time because of the way it had been edited.

“It was edited in a way that just ignored the good parts. The way the pub was portrayed wasn’t really fair, but once you let a film crew in you’re asking for trouble really – add free drinks into the mix and you “re going to have a lively time. At the end of the show, there’s a shot of a man walking out the pub and falling over but he was part of the film crew.”

The historic pub, which is housed in a mid 19th century building, has since changed hands and has been renamed the Long Pull. It was recently named the joint top establishment in the town and is currently undergoing a complete refurbishment.

The pub had a different charm when Tony was in charge but it was “always busy” and never failed to have a “great atmosphere”. He said: “The pub is now called The Long Pull but that’s what everyone used to call it when I ran it as the Old Vaults.

“It’s known locally as The Long Pull because people had to pull the barrels up a hill to get them into the cellar many years ago. I wouldn’t have said it was one of the toughest pubs when I was in charge. If there ever was a fight or anything like that it would sort itself out quite quickly, but it wasn’t ever a big issue for us.

“I’d describe it as more of an ‘anything goes’ pub – people went there for a good time, either to watch the racing or to do some karaoke. We had a lot of characters, a lot of them are dead now sadly , but a lot of really good people used to go there.

“We had dominoes teams, darts teams and pool teams. The atmosphere was great and everyone watched out for one another. We had a lot of regulars who I got to know quite well. Big June in particular was a character. She was a trans woman and would come to the pub on a regular basis.

“She’s passed away now sadly but I remember her fondly – she was one of the regulars who was there when the show was filmed and had a starring role.” He added: “On Sunday morning we would play Play Your Cards Right and we’d go into town to get prizes for that.

“They were fun times. We used to have karaoke quite often and I had the ceiling covered with kitchen foil so the lights would reflect on it. It was all in the spirit of having a good time.

“We had some people who came to the pub because they’d seen it on the TV but it was always busy anyway so things didn’t change much after the show aired. The regulars loved it though and, as you can imagine, it was a topic of conversation for a long time afterwards.

“We shared a lot of laughs over it. It’s nice to be able to go back to it every now and again for the memories.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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