Memories of the Pig are just off the wall

It once stood in the heart of the community – a place to drink, socialise and gossip. But in 2002, the Pig on the Wall was controversially demolished to make way for a McDonald’s restaurant despite protests.

PIG 2 SL 31It once stood in the heart of the community – a place to drink, socialise and gossip. But in 2002, the Pig on the Wall was controversially demolished to make way for a McDonald’s restaurant despite protests.

While the bricks and mortar may have disappeared in Upper Gornal, memories were rekindled by around 40 former staff and customers who gathered for a reunion on Saturday. Among them was mother-of-four Helen Scriven who was a barmaid from 1992 until the pub, which had pink neon lighting and a red phone box in the lounge, closed.

Miss Scriven, aged 37, of Valley Road, Upper Gornal, said it was the most popular pub in the area. “On a busy night we could get about 300 coming in,” she said.

“There used to be queues coming down the road on a Sunday and on a Wednesday night drinks would be free for ladies and it used to be packed. It was the first pub in Gornal to get a licence to stay open to 1am.

“It was also a hotel and had six rooms and we used to get a couple of Scousers stopping a few nights a week as they used to work down here.”

The pub is thought to have opened as Hammond’s in 1913 and was previously the Bricklayers Arms. It was once one of eight pubs along a one-mile stretch.

The last Pig on the Wall in Kent Street was built by husband and wife John and Pat Green in 1987 and they ran it until it shut.

They were regarded as friends as well as landlords by staff, including Miss Scriven who said Mrs Green was one of the first to hold her newborn son. Another barmaid Tracey Howen, 35, of Naylors Grove, Upper Gornal, who worked there for six years, said at the reunion in the Old Mill in Windmill Street, Upper Gornal: “I think the reason it was so popular is because it was like a family. Going to work for me was like going home.”

One couple who got engaged in the Pig on the Wall was Neil and Debbie Taylor, aged 47 and 30 respectively, who wed in 2004.

They now live in Manchester although Mr Taylor used to live in Stream Road, Kingswinford, and worked for Omron on the Pensnett Trading Estate.

Mrs Taylor had moved to the area and met her husband in 2000 when she went to the pub and heard him singing karaoke.

She said: “I didn’t like him at first but we got talking and on the night the pub closed he asked me to marry him, so the Pig will always have a special place in our hearts.”