TRIBUTES have been paid to a Burton landlady who started her long-standing career behind the bar to prevent her underage sons from sneaking a pint.
Muriel Lewis was the matriarch of some of the town’s top bars in the late 1970s and 1980s and will always fondly be remembered as looking after everyone and being a ‘big talker’.
“Everyone always has a different story about her,” her son, Chris said.
The 82-year-old peacefully passed away at home on Monday after being diagnosed with cancer just five weeks before, and since then her family has been inundated with well-wishes from her many friends.
The popular landlady’s son Chris proudly said: “Even when we were out, the first thing people would ask is ‘how’s your mum?’”
At the height of her career, Muriel, with her late husband, Dougie, owned The Star, later changing to Galaxy (now Bullet), in High Street, the Staffordshire Knot (now demolished), in Station Street, the 76 Club which she renamed Libra (now demolished), in High Street and The Punchbowl (formerly The Appleby), in Green Street.
Chris said: “She was the only licensee with three breweries – Marston’s, Bass and Ind Coope.”
Muriel was born in Burton to George Geary, who had his own claim to fame, when, as a youngster, he was caught stealing apples in Bretby. The farmer asked him his name as a new road had just been created and so Geary Lane was born.
She started her career as a nursing orderly at Belvedere Hospital (now Queen’s) before becoming a student nurse in Surrey.
She later met husband Dougie on a train when he asked to carry her bags home. They were married for 43 years before he died in 1995.
After raising her two children, Ian and Chris, the underage teenagers started spending their nights out in town.
Chris said: “She would ask where we go but of course she knew. She said she would keep an eye on us by working behind the bar. We didn’t believe her but later, there she was behind the bar.”
The 60-year-old added: “She always looked after you. One a man once told me he had been drinking in her bar and was about to get on his bike to go home when she took the keys off him and told him to walk home. You never argued with her.”
Along with three other pubs, Muriel helped introduce the Lord Mayor’s Cup to help ‘old folk’ as the Mail reported at the time. The first pool match raised £53 in the 1970s.
She was also on the end of the phone to the police who asked her to provide breakfast for everyone in the cells.
Muriel still has a thank you note from the murder squad when she provided breakfast to the detectives who were investigating a murder in Blackpool Street
As well as two sons,she leaves behind six grandchildren, eight great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.
Her funeral will take place at noon on Wednesday, at St Modwen’s, in Market Place, followed by an interment at Stapenhill Cemetery ‘to be reunited with Dougie’ and a gathering at Shobnall Sports and Social Club.
Family flowers only but donations may be made to Midlands Air Ambulance and Macmillan.