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Stone the Crows – the Road to Wigan Beer is back!
Monday 15th September, 2008

Stone the Crows – the Road to Wigan Beer is back!
Landlady of the White Crow Helen Birch

A stuffed crow named Beelzebub that brings bad luck, a confused sign writer and the second oldest pub in England – this year’s Road to Wigan Beer promises to be the quirkiest yet!

Visitors to Wigan and Leigh’s second Food and Drink Festival can enjoy a taste of some of the best real ales in the North West but many of the 20 pubs taking part in the real ale trail have equally mouth watering tales to tell.

None more so than the White Crow in Worthington. The pub dates back to the 16th century when it was the White Cross coaching house, owned by Thomas Clayton who came to England with William the Conqueror. But in the 18th century a sign writer mistakenly re-wrote the name as the White Crow and the name stuck.

But it’s the white crow, known by customers as Beelzebub, sitting high above the fireplace with its back facing visiting drinkers that is the talk of the bar.

Local superstition has it that if he’s ever turned round the pub will be cursed with bad luck – something that landlady Helen Birch can testify to.

Helen said: “When we moved in eight years ago and customers told us that if ever the bird was facing the wrong way the pub would be bestowed with bad luck.

“I didn’t pay any attention and thought it was just an old wives tale.

“I sent one of the staff up to clean it and didn’t realise afterwards that it had been turned the wrong way.

“Then we were hit by a series of catastrophes. Within a few weeks the pub flooded, the petrol strike started to affect trade and we had three power cuts.”

She added: “It sounds ridiculous, but 100 per cent, when it was turned the wrong way we had disaster after disaster.”

Other highlights in this year’s Road to Wigan Beer include the Boar’s Head in Standish, one of the most famous pubs in Wigan borough. It’s been serving ale since 1271, is featured in the Doomsday Book and during the 1400s it was the overnight inn for prisoners being transported to Lancaster Prison. It survived the English Civil War as the Battle for Wigan Lane raged nearby.

And if that doesn’t leave you gasping for a hard earned pint Allgates Micro Brewery in Wigan town centre has produced a one off Festival Beer called – Festivale.

Keith Bergman, Tourism Development Manager for Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust said: “Pubs are having a tough time at the moment.

“We’re really fortunate in Wigan borough to have so many that have such a rich heritage, that have stuck to their traditional roots and are full of character and history.

“So many have great stories to tell.”

Other pubs taking part include; The Anvil – Wigan, The Colliers – Wigan, Crooke Hall Inn – Standish Lower Ground, The Cross Keys – Stubshaw Cross, The Crown – Worthington, The Delph – Tontine, The Moon Under Water - Wigan, The Old Dog – UpHolland, Old Isaacs – Atherton, The Orwell – Wallgate, The Pendle Witch – Atherton, The Royal Oak – Standishgate, The Sir Thomas Gerrard – Ashton-in-Makerfield, The Thomas Burke – Leigh, The Tudor House – Wigan, The Victoria – Wigan, The Waterside Inn – Leigh, the Wayferer – Parbold.

The Wigan Food and Drink Festival, sponsored by Hitchen Foods, also comprises of a fine food trail, an expanded Wigan Outdoor Market Kitchen Theatre and a photographic celebration of Café Culture . It starts on October 3 and runs for ten days.

For details of the full programme contact Wigan Tourist Information Centre on 01942 825677 or visit www.wlct.org/foodanddrink.

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