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Raymond, Natalie and Sarah-Jane Burt and their customers mark 57 years of family involvement in the Pelican, Devizes
With pub licensees changing with the frequency of football managers, it is cause for celebration that the Burt family of Devizes have been running the Pelican Inn for 57 years.
The Burts welcomed regulars to a special event at the pub on June 25, 57 years to the day that Frank and Lilian Goodman took the pub over in 1954.
Queen Elizabeth II had been on the throne just two years, Winston Churchill was Prime Minister and a pint of Wadworth’s IPA was just 1/1d – just over 5p in modern currency – when Mr and Mrs Goodman walked through the doors of the Market Place pub.
They had been running the Rodbourne Cheney Club in Swindon before they came to the Pelican, which was a popular watering hole for the many Army personnel based in the town in those days.
The soldiers were a lively lot and on Friday nights soldiers would take off the door, go out into the Market Place and slide on it.
Mr Goodman, known as Tiny for his jockey-sized frame, and Mrs Goodman, brought their only child, Natalie, with them.
It was Natalie’s job to take hot water to a sitting tenant in the top floor, on a room still known as Mr Hepplewhite’s room.
She recalled: “I had to take him his hot water to wash in the morning.
“I hated doing that. I would knock on the door and turn my head away as I handed the bowl to him.”
Natalie married Raymond Burt, known as Doey, and the couple helped Mrs Goodman run the pub after Mr Goodman died on September 10 1970 at the age of 64.
Mrs Goodman received a letter from Major John Bartholomew, chairman of Wadworth, which owns the pub, offering his condolences on her loss.
It concluded: “I do hope very much that you will find it possible to continue with the tenancy of the Pelican.”
Continue it she did and it has never failed to draw customers, even when the Army upped sticks and left the town.
There are no frills or cordon bleu cookery at the Pelican.
People can bring in their own food to eat as long as they buy drinks at the bar.
There are darts, pool and crib teams and lots of good, down-to-earth conversation – a real regulars’ pub.
When Mrs Goodman died on February 13 1988, Doey and Nat took on the pub.
Now a third generation, in the form of their daughter, Sarah-Jane, is involved with a fourth generation on the horizon.
Sarah-Jane Burt said: “My daughter, Natasha, who is 12, is looking forward to the day she can pull pints for customers.
“I have a four-year-old Zoe, as well and I expect she’ll come into the business too.
“It is hard work running a pub but I wouldn’t do anything else.”
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