The last landlord of a much-loved Chester pub was treated to a surprise he will never forget thanks to a fellow publican.
Trevor Summerhill, of Ye Olde Cottage Inn, Brook Street, worked on a secret project for his friend Joe Gildea who retired from The Ship Victory prior to its demolition to make way for the new bus station.
He worked with BBC2 ’s The Repair Shop to restore the old pub sign that now hangs proudly in the beer garden of the Olde Cottage after it was unveiled in front of Joe and a gathering of locals.
Joe told the show’s presenter Will Kirk and metal expert Dominic Chinea: “It’s a sign from The Ship Victory, the pub in Chester. It was built, as far as we know, in the 1800s and was recently knocked down to build a new bus station. It was run by the last landlord, Joe Gildea.
“I have known Joe for a long time. It was known as the ‘small pub with the big heart’ because he raised £100,000 for local charity. The sign was given to him when he retired so I volunteered to keep it at my pub – I have a pub just down the road. I would like to have that sign kept at the pub so Joe could at least see that there’s something kept now that the pub has gone.”
At that stage Trevor had only told Joe he was going to give the sign ‘a lick of paint’ which caused amusement for presenter Will who responded: “It will need more than a lick of paint!” .
Metal expert Dominic Chinea was delighted to find evidence of gold leaf as he peeled away the layers of paint on the steel frame which was ‘structurally sound’. The metal bracket was stripped back then powder-coated to make it hard-wearing. Dom carefully applied 24 carat gold leaf to bring out the original detailing.
For the actual wooden sign, he acquired a new slab of oak and traced the lettering from the old sign onto the new one before hand-painting the words and image of HMS Victory – Nelson’s flagship after which the pub was named.
Joe was invited to Ye Olde Cottage Inn for the unveiling in front of a small gathering that included local amateur historian Len Morgan and his wife Joan from Handbridge .
Joe exclaimed: “Wow! That looks fantastic. It’s amazing. I’m very proud that someone would do that for me. I feel very, very emotional about the whole thing because by that sign The Ship Victory will remain. That’s a piece of history.”
Trevor was also delighted.
“Joe is over the moon. He’s so happy. We will keep the memory of that pub going while we are here. We are made up that we’ve managed to keep something of the pub. Very, very happy,” said Trevor.
Last Thursday friends of the Ship Victory and the Olde Cottage were welcomed to the Olde Cottage for ‘some nibbles and a couple drinks’ to watch the BBC2 show (episode 14, series 2) which is still available for viewing on BBC iPlayer.