My Mum, Gran and Great Aunt Stella (my Gran’s sister) in times past, had all worked at the Connought Pub at the dockside in the East end of London.
In the 1940’s the Connought public house was used as a meeting place where men went in the hope of getting work at the dockside, loading & unloading goods from ships. It was also where a well earned pint was enjoyed after a hard days labour. My Aunt Stella was known for extending her congeniality to those who found themselves without work and in need of food. She often sent folk to her mothers house for food. My Great Grandmother was known for always having ‘a pot of something on the go’ and no one was refused hospitality in the form of hot food and a cup of tea.
Aunt Stella went on to work in a number of free houses and ended her working days in the Elm pub in Fulham Road, being the Landlady there for 25 years. She knew the importance of gatherings and celebrating good times, and offering hospitality in the form of refreshment and a warm welcome to all. She had an appreciation for the finer things in life. She enjoyed travelling, and visits to the theatre, ballet & opera. She had a black velvet cloak made for these occasions. At 6 feet tall with immaculate dress sense, Stella ‘was a woman who turned heads’. The cloak represented the appreciation of a sense of occasion. The cloak was passed onto me a few years ago.
This year I attended the British Innkeepers Industry (BII)Scotland annual awards. My mum (Great Aunt Stella’s niece) also joined us at the dinner and presentation. Mum looked in her wardrobe for a suitable dress to wear for the occasion and had a couple of options. One of the dresses had a scratchy label at the back of the neck, so it was unpicked and removed. The name of the dress, embroidered on the label was Stella.
I was delighted to be presented with BII Scotland Bar Personality of the Year, and an engraved quaich. The quaich is a symbol of a cup of friendship; the offering of a drink or dram being a symbol of extending welcome hospitality. Both Mum & I agreed that Aunt Stella would have been proud of the presentation, and the synchronicity of the name label reminded us of her welcoming and charismatic personality.
I have sewn the name tag into the lining of Great Aunt Stella’s Cloak. I feel it’s where it belongs.
N.B The Connought pub, still operates as a public house, now called The Fox & Connought.