New Chester Wetherspoon's will tell Ricky Tomlinson's story before he was famous

Actor and his Chester pal Des Warren were trade unionists jailed for their activities
Ricky Tomlinson with Dennis Warren (left) and supporters of the Shrewsbury 24 Credit: Morning Star Photographic Archive, Bishopsgate Institute

The new Chester Wetherspoon’s will feature a display about TV star Ricky Tomlinson and his late Chester pal who first met in the pub in 1972 and were imprisoned the following year for their role in the first national building workers’ strike.

Back in those days Ricky worked on building sites as a plasterer. He met the late Des Warren, of Queens Place, Chester, in an upstairs room at The Bull and Stirrup Hotel when the pub hosted a strike committee.

The pair were among 24 flying pickets, involved in action at Shrewsbury, who were jailed under the obscure 1875 Conspiracy Act and became known as the ‘Shrewsbury Two’ as they received the longest sentences.

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The ongoing revamp at The Bull and Stirrup in Upper Northgate Street, Chester.

Des died aged 66 in 2004 but Ricky and the remaining flying pickets are still campaigning to clear their names, arguing they were political prisoners.

John Creswick, from Huntington , secretary of Chester Labour Party , alerted Wetherspoon’s to this link with the past when he first heard the chain was taking over the historic Upper Northgate Street pub, which reopens on Tuesday, February 28 – Shrove Tuesday – following a major refurbishment. He would dearly love it if Ricky can attend the re-launch.

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'The Shrewsbury Two' pictured October 1974 - Des Warren and Ricky Tomlinson.

Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We always reflect the history of the building with information displays in our pubs.

“John alerted us to the connection between actor Ricky Tomlinson and the pub and we are pleased to feature information about the famous event in the new-look pub.”

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Ricky, who played trade unionist Bobby Grant in Brookside and later starred as Jim Royle in The Royle Family, previously wrote: “I first met Dessie Warren in the summer of 1972. It was at the Bull and Stirrup, a pub in Chester where the Wrexham strike action committee met – and I admired his style. From the beginning, there were quite a few arguments between us, but we both stood our corners. We had a great respect for each other.

“But what really brought us together was that first morning of the trial of the six of us building workers, in October 1973.”

Ricky Tomlinson and his friend Arthur Scargill pictured at the funeral of Des Warren at Blacon Crematorium in 2004.

However, the two fell out while imprisoned and didn’t speak for years but were reunited shortly before Des’ death when Ricky visited his Chester home.

Speaking at Des’ funeral, Ricky told mourners at Blacon Crematorium how he pleased he was they had made their peace.

He said his pal had effectively served a life sentence, because drugs given to him in prison brought on Parkinson’s Disease. He told those gathered that Warren was a ‘wonderful human being’.

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