Situated close to the route of the Grantham Canal, the village of Bottesford in Leicestershire is one of the larger conurbations in the vicinity of the old waterway with its population of 3000. When I think of Bottesford two things come to mind, (well three to be more accurate). St. Mary’s Church with its magnificent 200ft high spire, visible for many a mile and also for the village’s connection with the legendary comedy pairing, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
Some years ago, a lady named Olga Healey ran a public house in Bottesford named The Bull Inn. Nothing unusual there you might say? Well this lady was actually the great comedian, Stan Laurel’s sister and The Bull Inn has become something of a shrine to the great comedy couple, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
The Bull Inn’s lounge was closed when I last called, being a quiet Monday night, but on request, the landlady, Linda, kindly opened up for me a locked lounge that was sat in darkness, so that I might view some of the historic photographs and newspaper clippings adorning the walls. As she switched the lights on, the fantastic images of the famous pair came to life surrounding me in the history of the pair. Notably there was an official copy of Stan’s birth certificate. Interestingly too, Stan’s father’s occupation was shown as ‘Comedian’.
There was much mention of their well-reported stay at the pub in 1953 when the pair performed at the Empire Theatre in Nottingham. Not many knew at the time that they would also visit The Bull Inn variously on many other occasions privately. Stan and Ollie at one point even owned a home nearby in the Vale of Belvoir village of Redmile which lies adjacent the Grantham Canal.
It was lovely to see the various photographs and memorabilia of Stan and Ollie raising a pint of ‘Bull’s best’. One can only imagine how quaint and lovely the scene must have felt for them on their travels from their homes in the United States.
When I visited The Bull Inn, the landlady mentioned that the Stan and Ollie Appreciation Society, ‘The Sons of the Desert’ were to hold their annual meet there on the coming Saturday. The old films will be projected up in the lounge and some have even been known to come along dressed as Stan and Ollie! A fitting tribute to their genius.
“We haven’t eaten for three days – yesterday, today and tomorrow”