John Webb has been pouring pints for over 40 years and is finally hanging up his apron at the Lansdowne Strand in Calne, Wiltshire.
John, now 78, has been working at the Lansdowne as their cellar manager and is now working under award winning husband and wife management partnership – Joel and Anna Lear.
John got his first taste for ale when he began work in the licensed trade back in 1975 working for his cousin who had become the landlord of the Beaufort Arms at Royal Wootton Bassett before becoming a licensee himself in 1978.
This was his first position as landlord and was of The Plough Inn at Ashton Keynes and remained there until 1987 “only leaving there then because of my wife’s ill health,” he said.
It was then he turned to relief work for former brewer and pub owners – Courage. “I Left the trade for a time and retired in 2003. Felt as if I was on the scrap heap and realised I was missing the trade.
“I Started working at The Lansdowne Strand in 2004 and have seen lots of change in the industry then, before and now.
“The biggest being that I have seen is the shift in importance from wet sales to food sales, this has been an incredible turn around but you can see why. The pub is now a more family friendly environment and not just somewhere for the men to go after work. This is evident at the Lansdowne and Joel is doing an incredible job in the kitchen.”
The Lansdowne was taken over by Swindon brewery Arkell’s in 2007, John became solely responsible for all of the cellar work and the drinks ordering as well as continuing to be the “cheeriest chattiest barman in Wiltshire,” according to Lansdowne head chef and manager Joel Lear. “John has been magnificent for us and we wish him well in his retirement and he is welcome back to help me with the beer lines whenever he likes,” Joel added.
On his retirement John said: “I will miss the rapport with customers but not the clearing up at the end of a busy evening.
“The highlight of my time at the Lansdowne was achieving a 100% grading from Cask Marque.
“I will still be well occupied in my second retirement. I will continue singing with the Chippenham Male Voice Choir and in the sixties group End of the Track. I will also have more time to peruse my love of long distant trail walking which at the moment is the 220 mile Severn Way. I am also considering The Donnington Way which has the attraction of of the chance of visiting every Donnington Brewery pub.”
For more information or to book a table or room at the Lansdowne Strand Hotel call 01249 812488 or email Lansdowne@arkells.com.