Sunday, 26 March 2017

Remembering Lucy Powell, Legendary Landlady

I was sad to hear yesterday of the death of Lucy Powell, legendary landlady of the Three Tuns before the renovations, which were done after the fire which ended Lucy's time there.
In the early days of Hay Festival, the Three Tuns was an essential watering hole for journalists from national newspapers who covered the Festival.
Lucy also claimed that the Great Train Robbers drank there, while in hiding in the area.
I remember belly dancing demonstrations, in the middle of the tiny bar - which also featured in Dandelion Dead, which was filmed in Hay in 1994. Just about the only thing they did to change it for the filming (which was set in 1923) was to take out the 1970s broken games machine.
Tim the Gardener used to play his guitar there.
The film crew with Monty Don drank there when he was filming a series about small towns - and one of them over indulged in the cider and was very ill indeed the next day.
Local characters Sid and Lil used to drink there (Sid worked at Booths Bookshop for many years).
Lucy used to cook her tea over the fire in the bar - now the fireplace in the refurbished bar, but stripped back from the Victorian overmantle that it used to have then.
And she talked to everyone. You couldn't go in there for a quiet drink on your own - you would end up talking to everyone else in the bar. This featured in a memoir about Hay by Paul Collins, Sixpence House, about an American who came to live in Hay, worked for Richard Booth and tried to renovate Half Moon House, which he renamed Sixpence House for the book. He also renamed Lucy - she's "Violet" and the pub becomes "The Hogshead".
I also remember her opening up the room on other side of the building, not usually open to the public, for a slide show by a chap who had just come back from the Arctic. Most of the room was taken up by a big round table, and we were squashed in like sardines wherever we could fit!
Once, Lucy locked herself out, and my ex-husband came to help with a ladder, which I think we borrowed from Rest for the Tired. The bathroom window was open, but Lucy wouldn't let him climb up to let her in - she insisted on climbing up herself, while he steadied the ladder for her. I think she was 76 at the time.
I was told that, in her youth, Lucy was a keen dancer, in the dance hall round the back of the Rose and Crown which is now a gym.
And of course, she played the part of St Lucia several times, at the Three Tuns and at Primrose Farm, with a crown of candles and wearing a white nightie.

1 comment:

William Bass said...

I met Lucy when I first came to the area in the 1980s. The time warp that was the Three Tuns made me feel as if I was in the pre-war era and as such was to be treasured. My main memory of her was as a true Hay character, one who loved her regulars and enjoyed talking about the Royal Family. RIP Lucy.