Etta was born into a mining family near Stanley, Co. Durham. After leaving school at the age of fourteen she was sent to Yorkshire to work in service but left after a short while to take up better post at a large private house, "Batt's Park" near Taunton in Somerset.
It was while she was working at "Batt's Park", that Etta met and later married a regular army man who's family lived in the West Country. Thirteen months later their daughter, Anne, was born.
Some years later Etta came back to the North East with Anne and went into the licensing trade. She was tenant of the "Miners' Arms" at High Spen for eight years and then tenant of the "King's Head" in Shotley Bridge for three years. During her time at the "King's Head" she was more than delighted to be called "an ideal tenant" by none other Major Douglas Nicholson, the head of Vaux Brewery, which was quite something in those days.
Etta came to West Boldon in 1960 to manage the "Red Lion" which was owned at the time by Hammond United Brewery. It was only an ale house and did not have a licence to sell wines and spirits but she could see its potential and persuaded the brewery to upgrade the property, including the installation of indoor toilets and other essential changes. While this work was going on Etta only just managed to prevent the destruction of an old door with a stained glass panel which the builders were thowing out. This panel she had framed and fitted with a light behind it to be displayed as a feature behind the bar. It is still on display in the "Red Lion". It shows an old man seated in a high backed chair smoking a church warden's pipe with the words "After toil comes rest".
When the work was completed the brewery applied for a spirit licence which was granted around 1962. The brewery also gave Etta the opportunity of taking the tenancy of the pub instead of being manageress, which she didn't hesitate to accept. From then on Etta, with the help on her daughter, set about visiting salerooms around the region to buy all sorts of decorative items and furniture for the pub in order to create an "oldie worldie" atmosphere. She bought Britannia tables, wheelbacked chairs and two monks benches. Inside one one of the benches she found a copy of the parish magazine of St. George's Church, East Boldon dated July 1943 and on the back of the bench was carved the words "Come unto me and I will give thee rest." Other items she bought included antique coaching lamps, 32 miner's, vintage car lamps and Toby jugs. She also accumulated quite a collection of horse brasses which she had displayed on leather around the pub.
Etta was always a very hard working lady but she certainly loved the life and gained a great deal of satisfaction from all her success. During those years she spent there she had the respect and affection of many people and will always be remembered for her style, personality and good sense of humour. People still talk today of the happy memories they have of the evenings spent in the "Red Lion". The warm atmosphere, the friendly staff and Nat King Cole music playing in the background. Etta retired in 1980 after twenty years at the "Red Lion". She bought a house in Rectory Greeen and lived there until she died in August 2002.
Colin Wilbourn puts puts the final touches to his work.
This seat with its musical theme was erected by Anne Hudson in memory of her mother, Etta, who was manager of the Red Lion from 1960 till 1962 when she took over the tenancy, which she held until she retired in 1980. The theme reflects the great love Etta had for music and the radio. The expression "Mizpah" which appears on the right hand section of the monument conveys the idea - May the Lord watch between thee and me while we are parted on from another. The artists were Colin Wilbourn, who did the stone carving and Craig Knowles, an artist and blacksmith who did the metalwork. Colin has been a local sculptor for 25 years and now lives in Sunderland with a workshop in Deptford. Included in his many works is "The Upper Room" at Durham. He was the lead artist on St. Peter's Riverside project and was responsible for all the sculptures along the Wear between the Sunderland Marina and the Wearmouth Bridge, including the "Red House"
"Etta's Seat" received the above award in 2006 and I feel it was justly deserved. Ann
In 1960 the "Red Lion" was owned by Hammond United Breweries, then by Charringtons Breweries, then by Bass Brewery and finally it was sold to the Punch Pub Company of Staffordshire, who own it today.
My thanks to Anne for the information.
Links to other Boldon Characters:
Catherine Lynch | Cristobal Compois | Elaine Carr | Etta | Hannah Walker | Harry Reay | Hilary and Wout | Howard Ross | Ian Cullen | Keith Jones | Ken Longstaff | Sam Bartram | Yvonne Quenet