Collectively, Ralph and Tom have been visiting The Weeping Willow for over 80 years. It's remarkable really, considering that Ralph says "this place was a dive" and Tom interjects to add that he was banned for a short period of time by the old landlord (not that we need to warn anyone...).
Ralph, who has family history dating back nearly 200 years in Barrow, is particularly fond of the pub where his dad helped convert the snug back in the 40's. You could say he grew up here, from gathering empty bottles at the end of the night to get a penny back and scavenge pocket money; to hosting his stag-do in 1973; then more recently holding his dad's wake here. The pub really has been a constant.
In 2008 both men and some friends began a village cricket club and went on to arrange a charity match against the local football team in honour of a late-member of their "5 o'clock club" who used to meet them for a drink in The Weeping Willow on Fridays after work. It was such a success, raising money for the school and village hall, that in 2011 Barrow Cricket Club was 'formally' formed in the pub. Today, the club consists of 25 members, aged between 14 and 60, and have even played our Chestnut team once or twice. Ralph and Tom prefer to sit on the side-lines nowadays, but I can tell they're quite the pundits!
From cricket to other more obscure sports, it seems The Weeping Willow has made home to many a sportsman or woman. The village tug-of-war team is pictured outside the pub (below) in 1972 and the men both point out all of the members who still live in Barrow. But, if you think that having a tug-of-war team is quirky, you'll be even more impressed to hear that the landlady at the time was the Finnish Shooting Champion. I can't imagine any of those men wanted to argue with her when she called "closing time"!
Despite links to their sports clubs, I ask what it really is that has drawn them to keep visiting in the present and they say it's "the old with the new" ambience. From Ralph's dad helping the conversion in the 40's to the much more recent renovation by Paula Pryke OBE and husband, Peter Romaniuk, in 2017, the core of the pub still stands strong, so one can reminisce; There's memories of sing-songs in the bar and playing crib, celebrating birthdays and tired Friday night drinks. The Weeping Willow has kept the charm throughout.