The Bell and Bear pub, Shelton, was once one of the top watering holes in the Potteries


The Bell and Bear in Shelton – a pub which was once one of the best watering holes in the Potteries – now looks a sad reflection of its former glory.

Having served the residents and workers of that part of the Potteries for the best part of the last century, there are perhaps many reading who had the pleasure of visiting the pub.

It was first opened at the beginning of the 20th Century when it took the place of the previous hostelry, also the Bell and Bear.

The Bell and Bear, below Shelton Church is pictured in 1991. It has been closed for some time having once been a popular students’ pub. Photograph courtesy of Mervyn Edwards.

Many believe its name comes from the brutal pastime of bear-baiting, which according to Steve Birks of the Potteries.org, “was often practised by the tough breed of colliers, farmers and potters who lived hereabouts in the 18th Century.

In those days Shelton’s population was little over 500, living in 100 dwellings, served by at least four inns and alehouses, including the original Bell and Bear.”

The most recent incarnation was the now deserted Edwardian structure which benefited from having its appearance enhanced by the attractive wall-mounted inn-sign.

At The Way We Were we have been hearing from many of you, via our Facebook Nostalgia group, about your own recollections of a seat and sup at this once popular inn.

Recalling his own family’s links with the pub, Ian Stockton said: “My great auntie and uncle, Connie and Jack Meaney, kept this in the late 1950s to early 1960s I think.

“Jack played around 300 times for Crewe Alex and kept the Masons Arms in Tunstall before the Bell and Bear.”

The bell and Bear has stood empty for years, falling into disrepair

Others whose parents and family frequented the Bell and Bear for events such as birthdays, weddings and general get-togethers recall what a welcoming place it was.

Barbara Johnson said: “It was my mum and dad’s favourite pub for many years. My sister held her wedding reception there in 1965.”

The pub was eventually closed for several years and came very near to demolition more than two decades ago, before being rescued and refurbished in the 1980s.

Former Bell and Bear customer Marjsyd Arrowsmith recalled: “I started drinking there in 1962. Jack and Connie were absolutely marvellous. A small group of us used to play darts in the little room at the back. Brilliant skittles team in those days and they spent time teaching us how to play. They went on to keep the Norfolk Arms in Norfolk Street. Sadly I lost touch after that. Loads of fun and happy memories.”





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