All About Us…. PART 1 .... This covers a 5 year period up until May 1974
(I have decided to publish this now as it is really taking time to cover the nearly 50 years of our existance, I hope you find it interesting)
Well, for those of you that may be interested in history of the TUDOR ARMS, I am, for the second time, attempting to put pen to paper and bring to light all the intrigues and stories since the day of opening 2nd of October 1969.
It actually all started in the summer of 1968, when a “British Week” festival was arranged in Kungsträdgården in central Stockholm, and at the centre of the festival was a “genuine” British Pub brought all the way from the UK. At that time there were many ex pats around, and one of these was a chap by the name of Victor Ames. Victor was a prominent employee at Swedish Radio, and together with a colleague of his, Urban von Rosen, (Urban had his own weekly “Top of the Pops” program aired every Saturday afternoon) decided that that was what was needed on a permanent basis to not only quench the thirst of all his ex pat friends, but to introduce the “English Culture” to Stockholm.
The Original 3, from left Urban von Rosen, Trevor Williams and Victor Ames together with piper on opening day.
The best way to narrate this history is to divide the years in a natural sequence. Period 1 will be the 70´s, period 2 the 80´s and period 3 the from 1990 onward.
Period 1, Spring 1969 until 31st December 1979..........
The first thing Victor and Urban needed to do was to find a suitable venue for their British Pub, which by now had already been christened “The Tudor Arms”. After many weeks of searching, a locality on the corner of Grevgatan and Storgatan in one of the more affluent areas of Stockholm was found. This was in fact a building owned by a state owned housing company, which was at this present time being totally renovated. To obtain the necessary “hyreskontrakt” Victor had his work cut out when explaining that the aim was to introduce a “British Pub”, but this was greatly helped by the fact that the young lady in charge of awarding the contract fell in love with him (Victor Could be very charming…) and so that was not going to be a problem.
However there was going to be a problem obtaining a license to sell alcoholic beverages. For those of you not aware, a tee totalling society prevailed at that time, there were only a handful of restaurants with a full license around, and definitely No Pubs…However, Victor, again using his charm and also being British, managed to persuade the local Stockholm Town Council that the idea of a British Pub would be an asset to the local community. A temporary license was granted for one year from the day of opening, with the restriction that only beer and wine could be sold.
So now, with the venue and license taken care of, Victor needed to find someone to build the Tudor Arms. And where else to go but London, where he was introduced to Leslie Kostick, the owner of a “pub building” company, KB Contracts, in the East End. During the early summer of 1969, Leslie and a few members of his workforce travelled over to Stockholm and “measured up” the new home of the Tudor Arms, and on returning started the construction process. Everything was to be made in London, and then transported to Stockholm for fitting at a later date. The cost? One third at order, one third installation and the final third on completion. Total fixed price…£10000.…….(In fact just a few hundred quid more)
At this point I would like to introduce the third member of the team, an elderly Kiwi (New Zealand, that is!) gentleman by the name of Trevor Williams, who was in fact the purse string for the whole operation. Sadly Trevor passed away in November 1969 after a short illness and never could fully enjoy the eventual success of his investment. We will come back to that later.
So now the TUDOR ARMS, the first British Pub in Stockholm is all ready to go, and this is where I come into the picture......
Having just finished at Southampton University with my closest friend Nigel Hollis, we ended up in Stockholm in early September 1969, after a round trip starting in the Isle of Wight and taking us through France, Spain, Germany and so on. The idea was to meet up with our girlfriends, me in Ryddarhyttan with Gunilla Wikström and Nigel in Järvsö with Pia Boda. Both were only 17 at the time.. However we were repectivley kicked out after a couple of weeks so it was back to Stockholm to scrounge somewhere to live, which didn´t turn out to be a problem, we were a couple of young English guys, you know!
So here we are in Stockholm, and I get a call from Nigel on Saturday 2nd of October mid morning. CHRIS, just got a job at an English Pub which opens TODAY!! They are looking for more staff so get here straight away! Well that was enough to get me out of my comfortable matress on the floor in a small one room flat owned by Siv Goland, very kind of her to let me stay. So off I go to the Tudor Arms, and I also got a job straight away. Both Nigel and I would be doing everything from serving behind the bar to washing dishes and cleaning the toilets (this was not very popular with my mum and dad who were expecting more what with my Batchelor of Science Degree in Physics)... Victor had imported a landlord and landlady by the names of George and Sylvie from the East End of London to run the pub, and they would be our bosses. A really funny couple, George was not very tall, spoke fluent cockney to everyboby, and wore this big black bowler hat, and thereby was the front man in the bar. Sylvia would look after the kitchen side of things.
This set up worked ok for the first week, but then the trouble started. Victor and George / Sylvie were at loggerheads most of the time, with Victor interfereing too much with the running of the place, but then it was his pub. So, at the end of the second week, Victor kicked out George and Sylvie under very distressing circumstances. We went on strike on the Wednesday of the second week in support of George and Sylvie, but to no avail. So out they went leaving me, Nigel, a young (I think he was only 16!) American by the name of Tom, and a black chef by the name of Charlie. The latter two being employed juring the first week, and it would now be up to us four to run the place! I was very happy with the situation, as I was down to my last £10 before starting work, and I now had enough to survive until Christmas, even without a job!
Did we have fun together....Things ran pretty smoothly for the next couple of months, there were quite afew lunch customers, and the evenings tended to be quite busy, with Victor playing host which he was pretty good at. Those days the pub ran the then very English opening times, 11am until 2.30pm and then 4.30pm until 11pm. Sundays would of course be 12 to 2 and 6 to 10pm. Fortunately in the beginning the economy was not my problem (causing big problems with the tax authorities at a later date) and at the end of most evenings Victor would collect the daily takings and off we would all troop to Beckarhästen, a classic Swedish restaurant at the bottom of the road on Strandvägen. There he would kindly treat us to dinner, nearly always "chateaubriand" as a reward for a hard days work. Of course it didn´t occur to Victor that not only did this jeapordize the economy of the pub, but to correct the book keeping would be an enormous and dodgy task at a later date.
Charlie and Chris relaxing after a busy lunch
During the period up until Christmas 1969, afew more staff were brought in on a part time basis, one of these being Roy Colegate. Roy was also an old school friend of ours back on the Isle of Wight, and since we were both musicians, we formed a pop group, Tudor Arms Rock, with Terry Pascoe from Torquay on drums and Adrian Moore, a sound technician at Swedish Radio, with his beautiful Fender Telecaster as lead singer. However, apart from afew practice gigs, we never did get on stage. Furthest we got was a group photo, which I think looks great! Roy went on to form a group, Skafell Pike, with three other pub regulars, and had great success for a number of years with two or three LP´s being released. Sadly Roy passed away some years ago. Then of course along comes Lena (Lena and me got closer together in 1970) as a fresh from school and wandering around London and Liverpool 18 year old. Victor gave her a job straight away simply because she wore a really short skirt and he fancied her. I´m trying desperately to remember all the other staff who joined the Tudor Arms team during the early 70´s, and here come a few names; Eva Lena, Fernandez, Darrel, Willy, Doreen, Margareta M, Chris, Irish Gerry, IOW Gerry, Alan W, Rick LaRoche ++++. During the latter 1970´s along came Peter Toyne, another old school friend, and Patrick Carlin from Ryde, both still working at Tudor Arms as of today, April 2016.
Chris telling Lena a joke?
Just to interject, there are alot of us Isle of Wighters here in Stockholm, and there is a good reason for this. The Isle of Wight is one of those venues used for EF language courses, so many mums and dads in Sweden would send their gorgeous 15/16 year old daughters to learn the language during June and July. In actual fact the girls learnt nearly everything else about life, while attending the compulsory English lessons was right down at the bottom of the list! With no disrespect, the local girls were not as pretty as their Swedish counterparts, who were then the subject of intense scrutiny by the local male population. This actually caused wars between the local girls and the Swedes, and handbags and hair pulling fights were quite a frequent sight on Sandown Pier, where everybody congregataed. So, we all made Swedish friends and ended up in Stockholm.
During the first year, 1970, our colourful chef Charlie, who was in fact abit of a very rotten apple, got us and himself into trouble on numerous occasions. During lunchtimes, when the oven was not being used, he would use it as a storage place for his unending supply of cannabis and other smokeable weed. I´m not actually sure what he did, but the oven was on most of the time! Nig and I took a step back from this dodgy business, but Charlie managed to fool Victor, who never did catch on to what was happening. I remember one evening after work, we all went out together in Charlie´s old Volksvagen Beetle, he wasn´t sober, and the car was filled with his drugs. We were stopped the first time by the police on Birger Jarlsgatan by Roslagstull, and a second time on Sveavägen less than 30 minutes later. Well, guess what happened. Nothing! On both occasions the police told us to drive carefully and have a nice evening. Even though Charlie was a right crook, he could be unbelievably polite and very pleasant when necessary.
Then comes the fire, I think in February 1970. Even though Victor was in charge, the pub was very sloppily run, and when Victor was not treating us to dinner, the cash at the end of the day was very nonchalantly just thrown on top of an old fridge, no safes here. Of course, this was picked up on by Charlie (we never did get any proof of what happened) and early one Monday morning I got a call saying the pub had been burgled, and had been set on fire. When I got there, sure enough there had been a burgalry but fortuately the fire was out, although the place was filled with thick black smoke. "Someone" had doused the bar and carpet by the hatch on bar-right and set light. As fortune would have it, the interior, constructed solely using Oak, would survive this attempt, the only damage being confined to a small area, still visible to this day. However all the walls were black with soot, and so the pub had to remain closed for quite a while. Of course, 3 days takings were gone, no surprize.
That Monday morning Charlie turned up for work as usual, but was drunk. During the weeks running up to this event, Charlie would often come to the pub in the evenings with a very unsavoury character/friend of his by the name of Jimmy. Jimmy was also a black american, had just been released from jail, and we were all frightened of him, probably with good reason. It was pretty clear that these two were behind the happenings, but it was never proved. There were more unsavoury events involving these two charcters, and I will never forget Jimmy creeping up to me after closing one night, around midnight. "You´s ain´t goin to be on that big bird tomorrow" he whispered, while pointing a loaded revolver at my gut!!! This was just before Christmas 1969 and I was supposed to fly back to the Isle of Wight with Lena to stay with my mum and dad. This all stemed from a rather large painting that I was supposed to look after just vanished from my hiding hole at the pub. The next morning I was forced to ask Victor kindly for an advance on my wages to be able to pay the rediculous price demanded. It all worked out in the end even though I had to work a couple of months without pay. We did get to the Isle of Wight Ok. Fortunately for all, Charlie and his friend disappeared after the fire incident, never to be seen again.
So now to continue...Me and Lena were now living together at her mums "tjänstebostad" which was in fact a small ground floor flat in the wonderful railway station building in Stocksund, just afew k´s north of central Stockhom. (I was train mad in those days, and still am!). At this point in time during 1970, the relationship between Victor and Urban, who were now running the pub together, was becoming strained, and this finally led to Victor leaving after Easter in 1971, but more of that is coming. Towards the end of 1970, both Lena and I thought it would be a good idea to get Lena´s mum, Siri, to work at the pub. She would have been 55 years old then and had a full time job at Pensionat Sollhäll in Stocksund, being in charge of the kitchen. So, all set, Siri started work at the pub in the latter part of 1970, and was straight in to the kitchen.
Lena´s mum, Siri, showing Alan the delicacies of kitchen work
Getting back to Victor and Urban, their relationship came to a head Easter 1971, and after many very hot headed rows during the weeks before, a very serious event took place on Easter Thursday. In those days we had a massive can opening utensil, which must have weighed over 10 kgs, and Victor, who was by this time very angry, picked it up and took a swing at Urban who was standing just by the kitchen door. Very fortunately Urban managed to duck out of the way, but this did not stop the momentum and the kitchen door got smashed to pieces. As you can maybe guess, it didn´t take long before the police arrived, and Victor was carted away to the police station where he was kept over the Easter period.
This of course had to be the end of the relationship between Victor and Urban, but there were to be many years of wrangling before it could be finally sorted out. The working shifts would now be changed to accomodate this new set up, and we laid it up in such a way that Urban, his wife, Debbie, and a chap by the name of Fernandes would work for two whole days, being relieved by Lena, Siri and me for the next two days. Simply put, two days on, two days off.
This event now brought into question the ownership of the shares in the company that owned the Tudor Arms, Anglo Swedish Pubs AB. As mentioned earlier, the original financier, Trevor Williams, owned all of the 100 shares, but on the understanding that Victor, Urban and Trevor himself would own one third each. Now that Victor had departed, and Trevor was no longer with us, Urban very kindly offered me Victor´s 1 / 3 share, the other 1 / 3 share to go to the pubs accountant, Gunnar Lennstrand. This would be financed by each of us individually paying for 1 / 3 of the ammount agreed to buy out Victor. This turned out to be a nightmare, when it was agreed on 125.000kr for Victor´s 1 / 3 share, the reason being that Victor assumed his debt to the company, around 45.000kr, would be written off. By this time Victor had seen a beautiful Jaguar E Type, and needed a down payment directly. However things turned very sour after signing a hastily put together sales agreement, which did not write off his debt. Victor was in such a hurry for his down payment, that he didn´t realize he was liable for his debt, just signed, and off he was to pick up his Jag. This of course created much animosity, understandably, and things between me and Victor were at rock bottom from then on, since he assumed that it was all my doing. I still feel abit bad about that incident even today. However Victor and I did patch things up many years later, before he sadly passed away.
So here we are now mid 1971, and three new owners. We all get lucky breaks in life and this was probably my biggest, being able to buy into the Tudor Arms for around 45.000kr. Naturally I personally had no ready cash, and when one sunny morning the tax authorities called me at the station house to explain where I had got the cash from, I could give them a very honest answer. Lenas mum was really very nice to me and secured a loan of 28.000kr from the then Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, and at the same time I owned a fabulous maroon coloured Triump TR 6, which I sold for around 10.000kr and the remaining 7000kr was booked as a debt to the company.
Apart from the hassle with Victor, his lawyers and our lawyers over the next couple of years, things at the Tudor Arms ran relatively smoothly. We were practically running on a no profit basis, and were always needing to borrow cash. Bad planing? bad pricing? not sure but I was to learn alot about the economy of the pub during my first year as an owner.
Now comes a very sad incident involving the death of Urban in May 1974. During the period up until this date, we were all very happy doing our two day on two day off shifts, although this meant that neither Lena Siri or myself would have much contact with Urban Debbie and Fernandes. Of course I would have regular contact with Urban regarding the day to day trivialities. So, I will never forget the Saturday morning when I get a call to the stationhouse at around 5am. It was Urban, but he was totally incomprehensible, the only thing I managed to understand was that he could not do his shift that Saturday. (We had just come off our two day shift Thursday and Friday). This naturally was very strange, and so we went into work that Saturday and tried to get an idea of what was going on. I knew that on the Friday night, Urban, being a famous radio celebrity, had been invited to the opening of a nightclub on the corner of Kungsgatan and Sveavägen, I think it was called Maxim, and that he would go there after work. During that Saturday, I made phonecalls to no avail, and Urban´s wife, Debbie, was in Scottland with no way of contacting her, so it seemed Urban had just disappeared off the face of the earth. I remember driving out to their house in Saltsjöbaden and having a look around but as his car was not there, assumed he was somewhere else. I even drove out to Arlanda Airport to look for his car as I guessed he might have flown over to Scotland. (His marriage was by then on the rocks I´m petty sure of). But no car at Arlanda. I even phoned the police station in Värmdö, reported Urban missing, and asked if there had been any car crashes that Saturday morning. The answer was in the negative, and when giving Urbans age as 30, was told that he was old enough to look after himself....
Urban had now not been seen for a week, despite ongoing searches and constant dialogue with his laywer, and so on the Saturday of the following week, his lawyer, Berndt Phillipsson, and myself drove out to their house. After having a good look around, Bernt decided that we need to gain entry, and on doing so very very sadly found Urban dead in his bedroom. I´m not going to go into the gruesome details, but Urban had taken his own life. He must have done this just after calling me....
MORE TO COME .... PLEASE BE PATIENT