The Sunday People giggled on: “Which makes on wonder what is happening to the traditional English pub.”
For Ken Pilling, the landlord of the Merchants Hotel in Blackburn, Lancashire is gay and makes no secret of the fact. And the People giggled “some of his barmen are the same way.”
Ken told the newspaper: “I’ve always been completely frank about myself. Fellows out for a stag night come in and laugh at us. But my barmen have a quick answer for any joker, and these lads who come for laughs return as regulars.”
Ken started a pub football team and their opponents taunted: “We’re playing a bunch of fairies.” Ken’s lads thrashed them 16 to 2.
“There’s not a homosexual among them,” he says. “People thought everyone who came in here would be bent.”
The People snickered: “A lot of people would, no doubt, be put off by Ken’s scene. But certainly his sexually – normal regulars are full of praise.”
Before he took over the Merchant’s Hotel, Ken was an Army drill instructor and the pub was run down. Now its turnover is more than £1,000 a week.
The 500-pub Lion brewery, which owns the Merchants says Ken won the award as the “Licensee who made the most effort personally to improve his pub atmosphere, by way of added attractions, customer relationship and genuine desire for his customers’ welfare.”
Being all of that won Ken a weekend in Paris – “Gay Paree” to the People.