IT is something of a publican’s dynasty as the Grainger family has been pulling pints at The Wharf Tavern for a remarkable 68 years.
No other hostelry in Stalybridge – possibly also in Tameside – can match the longevity with the links stretching back to 1949.
That was when Richard, current licensee Terence’s father, took over the pub, remaining behind the bar for 61 years until his death in 2010, aged 90.
The Wharf Tavern passed down to Richard’s three sons Terence, who runs the pub, while John and Richard are shareholders.
Richard’s 63 years as a publican – he was at the Wellington Inn for two years beforehand – could also be a record for Stalybridge, which also has the longest and shortest pub names.
Terence said: “The reason he and my mum Kathleen moved a couple of hundred yards from the Wellington to The Wharf Tavern was because it had central heating, but not the gas boilers of today.
“It was a coke oven that had to be lit by hand every day. That was my job between the ages of eight and 16.”
Richard, who also became a town councillor in the pre-Tameside era, was initially a tenant but in 1980 bought the pub from brewers Bass Charrington, a hugely significant moment as it enabled him to expand the business and also stock a wider range of ales – today it numbers 11.
He bought next door Fisher’s newsagents that helped extend the pub to create a large function room, home to many local clubs and organisations and which hosts small weddings, birthdays and funeral wakes, and provides accommodation – there are three single rooms and two doubles, all en-suite.
Richard also bought the Owens bakery at the end of the row that is now The Battered Friar fish and chip shop run by Terence’s twin sister Teresa Davies, and the house next door which is lived in by another sister, Christine Mills.
Terence explained that his father’s decision to buy the pub is probably why it has survived.
In the book ‘Stalybridge Pubs 1750/1990’, 138 are listed, but only 22 are still open. Terence estimates one in Stalybridge is closing each year, citing seven in the last seven years – Feathers, Stone Jug, The Thirteenth Mounted Cheshire Rifleman Inn, Stamford Arms, Sportsman, Travellers and Hare and Hounds.
Terence said: “There is no way the pub would still be here if all we did was sell beer.
“We have diversified, something pubs have to do when the challenge is to keep the place alive as people drink at home. Last year was the first time supermarkets exceeded pubs in beer sales.
“We have a function room, hotel rooms and little bits of rent which all helps.”
Terence has also preserved the period features and advertises the pub as a film location. A German film company hired it for one week for a series called ‘The Last Trace’ which was a similar storyline to ‘Midsomer Murders’.
Terence, 62, would love to see the pub remain in the family after he eventually retires, though he says none of his three daughters – Elizabeth, Deborah and Alison – are keen at the moment to follow in his footsteps.
Though the Grainger’s have been at The Wharf Tavern for 68 years, the family has been in the pub trade for much longer than that.
Terence’s grandparents Richard and Elizabeth Grainger took over the Pointsman Inn, Whitelands Inn, in 1939 from Elizabeth’s sister Emma Parrot who moved to the White Bear, Ashton.
Walter Parrot, Emma’s brother, had The Lamb Inn, Dukinfield, and also the Wellington Inn and the family’s links to the pub trade go back to 1925.
It is thought The Wharf Tavern opened about 1850 and was given that name as it is yards away from the Huddersfield Narrow Canal which was bustling with trade in the Victorian era.
Since the canal reopened in 2001, Terence says the odd barge calls, but he hopes that will increase in the future.