The Trooper Inn
My earliest out of school memories are of the Trooper Inn and of the time I spent in the company of the then landlord Bob Green. Bob had taken over the tenancy in 1948 following the retirement of his mother Charlotte, who had been landlady for 54 years. Bob left the day to day running of the Trooper to his wife Gladys and daughter Doreen. Before the Second World War Bob owned several horses and putts, which were used for hauling stone from the local quarries, for road building contracts for the District Council. By the 1950s the stables at the rear of the inn, now part of the stable bar, had been converted to pigsties and my first contact with farm animals was feeding the pigs in the sties and in the paddock adjoining the inn where ‘Griffin’ now stands.
Bob was also an expert at catching rabbits, either by ferreting or the use of the wire snares. I spent many happy hours in his company during the mid 1950s, netting up the rabbit burrows along the field hedgerows and placing the ferret into a burrow to chase the unfortunate rabbits through the underground burrows and out into the nets placed across the burrow entrances. Rabbits could be purchased from the back door of the Trooper with the remainder sold to the local butcher George Parsons at Stalbridge Weston.
I had first set foot inside a crowded lounge bar at Trooper Inn on June 1953, to watch the coronation of Queen Elizabeth 2nd on a black and white television set, one of only three in the village at this time. The day’s celebrations started with a Children’s fancy dress competition held outside of the Trooper Inn.
Robert, Monica and Betty Toone
After the judging I took my place in the procession through the village, headed by Mr Ambrose Stainer playing his coronet and Mrs Betty Toone with her piano accordion. The parade marshals were Bob Ashford and Cecil Orchard. The Young Mens Club committee organised afternoon sports in the field behind Veales Cottage. At a tea in the village hut we were presented with Coronation mugs and entertained by a conjurer Mr Harris from Stalbridge. Bunting and flags were on display throughout the village, looking rather bedraggled due to the heavy overnight rain. The day itself although dry was bitterly cold for early June. To complete the day’s celebrations an evening supper dance was held in the Village Hut. The remaining funds were used to purchase six commemorative trees, which were planted by Frank Palmer and Reg Ashford. Three of these, a Laburnum opposite the Church, a May tree at the Pound and a Flowering Cherry on the verge opposite Trooper Cottage have survived.
Robert and Betty Toone took over the tenancy of the Trooper Inn in 1957. The stable block was converted to a skittle alley, and the interior of the pub was refurbished, including the installation of a new bar to replace the serving hatch, from what is now the cellar into the public bar. The next few years were a very successful period in the pubs long history. A jukebox in the lounge bar attracted the younger generation and I was able to purchase the records from the jukebox, albeit with centres missing, when they were replaced with the current top ten hits, to play on my Dansette record player.
Conversion of stable block to skittle alley in 1960
Annual skittle team dinner 1963