How a famous Lancashire entertainer is packing
them in at an unusual Yorkshire pub.
Words and Images - Roy Hampson
‘This place will be the last to close’, yells
‘Tetley’ Dave Parker the owner of
Castleford’s oldest pub to his customers
standing around the bar. He’s clutching
a newspaper and reading with horror
about the number of licensed premises
shutting down in Yorkshire and
throughout Britain every week.
A quick glance at what David is NOT
actually offering his regulars would be
enough to send those ‘expert’ business
They would certainly say the odds are
stacked against the pub keeping open
much longer, what with the smoking ban
and dodgy economic climate. Anyway
Dave would reply by saying ‘experts
know nowt!’ he’s probably right, the
rising popularity of the pub is really a
remarkable achievement especially
when perusing the list of things that
aren’t on offer to its customers.
Dave’s pub, The Shoulder of Mutton,
doesn’t provide a pool table or television
set, no bar meals are served, neither are
alcohol pops. You certainly won’t find a
jukebox, a one-armed bandit or a beer
garden on his premises. Mixing drinks
isn’t allowed and you can’t book a 18th
or 21st birthday party.
However, ‘Tetley’ Dave does offer a
good well-kept pint of beer and a warm
friendly atmosphere in his pub.
Complete strangers entering the door
are made to feel especially welcome by
both himself and his regulars.
Really it’s just an old fashioned
drinking house where folk can come for a pint and a bit of conversation.
He frequently deserts his duties from behind the bar just to have a cosy
chat with any newcomers. He’s a remarkable character who finds time to
run upstairs during the chaos in the pub’s lounge and re-emerge dressed
as James Bond or togged up in robes as a prominent Arab leader (a gift
from a generous customer who visited Saudi Arabia). Or perhaps putting
on a flat cap, bursting in to an impromptu rendition of a George Formby
classic ditty, accompanied by his own expert handling of the ukulele. He’s
a keen devotee of Formby the cheeky buck-toothed comedian from
Lancashire. The pub itself is host to monthly George Formby meetings
and is one of fifteen registered societies across the world.
Tetley Dave became in charge of the ‘Shoulder’ ten years ago when he
told the previous owner that “he could run the place with one eye shut”.
Quite a statement considering Dave has a glass eye, inherited from a
As they say in Yorkshire: ‘He’s always up to
summett’ and now Tetley Dave, has launched
an exclusive new beer that’s got George
Formby fans hurrying down to the get-
togethers for a quick tipple. ‘Turned Out Nice
Again’ is named after the late, great
comedian’s famous catch phrase. Each
month the pub is launching a new Formby
themed beer named after one of the films or
cheeky songs. The next one is ‘Auntie
The beers came about after Tetley Dave was
invited to a new brewery in Great Heck. It soon
became apparent that the owners, husband and wife
and Lisa Vallance, were also devoted Formby followers.
So a range of Formby themed beers seemed a natural follow-up to the
The last Wednesday in each month is the Formby evening when would-
be impersonators arrive from all parts of Yorkshire, often clutching several
It’s no accident that a Castleford public house should have strong links
with the famous comic from Lancashire. Formby had a deep affection for
the town and once told the Blackpool Gazette: ‘I’ve a sort of romantic
attachment for Castleford because its there that I first met a charming
lady, - my Beryl.’
George was making reference to his first encounter with ‘Beryl’ in 1923
when she was part of a clog-dancing act from Accrington appearing on
the same variety bill at the town’s Theatre Royal. She was pretty, blonde
and feisty, and quick to tell George ‘that if she had a bag of rotten
tomatoes handy I’d have thrown them at him as he’d blacked his face and
spouted endless parrot jokes.’
Tetley Dave would like to believe that Formby was a regular at the
‘Shoulder’. ‘He’s been here. I have no proof, but I can feel it,’ he insisted
in another of his familiar outbursts across the bar to any customers willing
Although it’s only a hunch he’s probably not that far wrong. The theatre
was only a short stroll from the pub and Formby always found digs during
his regular appearances there in a street of terraced houses only 200
The Shoulder of Mutton was granted a beer license in 1859 and surely
must have inherited a few ghosts since then. During a recent Formby
evening Tetley Dave was busy behind the bar and suddenly turned a
ghostly white when he spotted none other than George himself standing
in the pubs lounge complete with brown trilby hat and carrying a ukulele.
‘Blimey, its Formby himself back from the dead’, he yelled across the
It turned out to be Paul Caspar from Sheffield who just happens to look
exactly like George complete with buckteeth and cheeky grin. He thought
he’d call in and give the regulars a song or two. Paul was born and bred in
Barnsley and has been playing musical instruments since he was 12.
He has a degree in music, plays a guitar and has worked as a stage
soundman with tribute acts touring the country.
It was during these gigs that people pointed out his uncanny likeness to
George Formby. He taught himself the ukulele and a handful of Formby
numbers and soon was invited on stage to sing a couple of typical Formby
songs in between each tribute act. They went down a storm.
‘There were occasions when the audience declined the act they’d come
to see and chanted we want George instead,’ he said.
Paul now has a new career performing at special 1940’s weekends all
over Yorkshire together with his friend Janet Pilkington who performs Vera
Why the name “Tetley Dave”?
I asked Mr Parker how he came by the name ‘Tetley Dave’. ‘When I was
working for the brewery in Leeds I used to call in a pub down the road on
the way home. A bloke always used to say as I walked in the door “here
comes Tetley Dave”.’
These words and images are reproduced
with the kind permission of Yorkshire
Turned out nice again
"Tetley" Dave was a legendary figure in West Yorkshire and particularly
in the Castleford area where he and his wife Margaret ran the Shoulder
of Mutton pub and where for many years the Castleford branch of The
GFS has flourished.
Dave was a real character in a world were characters are few and far
between. He loved his pub and the fact that he had created the
Castleford branch and in its own unique way, the branch is one of the
best nights in the Formby calender. Dave helped to create a unique
atmosphere at all the Castleford meetings and he will be sadly missed.
Whenever "Out In The Middle East" was played Dave would make the
fastest costume change imaginable to emerge before the end of the first
verse in Middle Eastern costume. He loved to play the bones and the
spoons and although the meetings will definitely continue at this
flourishing venue, Dave will be very much missed. Dave joined the GFS
in 1997 and was also a member of the Yorkshire Ukulele Circle.
On behalf of all those who attend the Castleford branch both now and in
the past, I would like to extend sincere condolences to Margaret and the