The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

Lenton Times Issue 6 - October 1991

The Boat Inn

Our Sponsor's Story

Sponsors of this issue are Soo Murden and Tony March, who run The Boat Inn on Priory Street in Old Lenton. They took over the pub in July 1988 following the death of Fred Roe. For the previous ten years Soo Murden had worked in the kitchen and behind the bar at The Queen's in Beeston and hadn't really envisaged taking on a pub of her own. It was brother, Neil, landlord at The Falcon in Canning Circus who suggested she try for The Boat. Having been born and brought up on nearby Cloister Street, the pub was very much home territory and Home Brewery clearly liked the fact that Soo already knew both the pub and many of its regular customers. Tony March, her partner, continued with his job as an electrician but by Christmas 1988 was able to down tools and work full-time in The Boat.

Photograph courtesy of Soo MurdenSee in Lightbox
Soo and customers at the bar of The Boat.

Although it underwent modernisation in the mid-1970s, when an extension was built at the rear and interior walls removed, The Boat remained, under Fred Roe's tutelage, a traditional style pub. This emphasis has now undergone certain modifications. Soo Murden's prowess in the kitchen has brought about the major change. On offer each lunchtime, Monday to Friday, is a wide range of hot meals that have proved a big attraction to those working in the area. The evenings revert to a more traditional format, though even here there have been innovations. Live music provided by a guitarist/vocalist is put on periodically and there are the occasional quiz nights. One of two formats is adopted for these latter events. A team selected from the Boat's patrons may accept a challenge from elsewhere and the two teams will then do battle with the aid of bell and buzzer with the rest of the pub taking a back seat. Alternatively the quiz may be advertised as open to all who come along to the pub that evening. There is also an ever-present challenge on offer at The Boat in the form of a recently installed quiz machine.

There are other sources of entertainment available in the games area at the rear of The Boat. Here you can play darts, dominoes, cards or table skittles. If none of these appeal then there is always the television. So keen are some of the patrons on their dominoes and table skittles that a team from The Boat compete in the Beeston & District League. Members of the team are required to play both games and in recent times have enjoyed considerable success. Last year The Boat won both the League and Cup making them champion of champions. At the time of writing the team were once again heading the League but haven't been quite so successful in the Cup. The Boat also run separate men's and ladies' darts teams which compete in the appropriate division of the Beeston & District League during the winter and then combine together during the summer months to form a mixed team. Last year the men were runners up in the Cup while the mixed team gained promotion to the 1st division. The Boat also sponsor Dunkirk Rangers, a football team which plays in the Nottingham Sunday League.

Photograph courtesy of Soo MurdenSee in Lightbox
Tony (standing in front of the darts board) with other
members of the darts team from The Boat Inn.

The Boat has a very mixed clientele, which is undoubtedly one of its attractions. There are some for whom the pub has been their regular for a great many years and others who are equally regular in their attendance even if they cannot match the number of years. Obviously the pub draws its custom from those living round about but it also retains the affections of quite a few who have moved away but still prefer to drink in Old Lenton. Students seem to favour some of the other pubs in the area but The Boat proves quite popular with doctors and nurses from the nearby Q.M.C. Those who enjoy a quiet drink should get there fairly early as the pub gets pretty busy later on. The brewery once tried to interest the Priory Church in letting them acquire the church hall next door in order to extend The Boat with the offer of church facilities rebuilt above the extension. The church authorities, however, wouldn't countenance the idea and so The Boat has been forced to remain the same size. Ordinarily the brewery could have sought to buy the open space to the right of the pub but this is land now owned by the City Council as part of its long-term plans to preserve and eventually lay out the site of Lenton Priory. Tony March did enquire of the Council whether he might come to some arrangement, which would permit him to use the land as a beer garden, but the idea didn't meet with approval. So it seems everyone will be confined to the present building for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless all who patronise The Boat can expect a warm welcome from Soo and Tony who hope to be 'aboard' for many years to come.

See also More About The Boat

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