As Jim Royle he used to pop into The Feathers with son-in-law Dave but actor Ricky Tomlinson will soon be supping a pint in Chester’s Bull and Stirrup in a trip down memory lane that will be bitter-sweet.
When Ricky was a young man and known by his real name of Eric Tomlinson he was a strike leader involved in the first national building workers’ strike in 1972.
And The Bull and Stirrup was where he and his late Chester pal Des Warren helped organise the action in this area when they took part in a strike committee in an upstairs room.
The pair were among 24 flying pickets convicted for their role in the dispute and both were jailed. All the surviving pickets, including Ricky, are still campaigning to clear their names.
Wetherspoon’s took over the Upper Northgate Street hotel a couple of years ago and next month it will finally reopen following a major revamp where one Ricky Tomlinson will be present to perform the honours.
This is the first official opening for any Wetherspoon’s pub and came about thanks to John Creswick, from Huntington, secretary of Chester Labour Party, who informed the pub chain of the historic connection.
Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon told The Chronicle: “I have just been told that Ricky Tomlinson will officially open the new Wetherspoon pub and hotel at 11am on February 28th.”
And he confirmed there will a display about Ricky’s story within the new Wetherspoon’s, which will feature 12 en suite rooms, including a wide range of information and photos.
Chester MP Chris Matheson, a former official with the Unite trade union, said: “Today Ricky Tomlinson is a much loved national celebrity, but he has spent years trying to clear his name over his involvement in the campaign for better employment rights during the 1970s.
“As we head towards the uncertainty of the Brexit negotiations, never has it been more important for us to be reminded of the strong employment rights that were hard won in this country. Nobody wants to return to the difficult days of the 1970s, but it goes to show that ordinary people can still effect real change in the world and at this moment in time, that is something that needs celebrating.
“I welcome this recognition of the historic role that the Bull and Stirrup has played as a meeting house for the Shrewsbury Pickets and I support Ricky Tomlinson’s calls a proper enquiry in to the events that followed, to give him and his colleagues the justice they deserve.”