Christmas comes to the Stamford Arms – in May!

Easing of coronavirus regulations meant customers could sit inside pubs that had waited since before Christmas to serve them.

The Correspondent was the first to sample how one delayed festive spirit for almost six months.

TREE? Check. Tinsel? Check. Baubles? Check. Music only heard once a year? Check.

Snow? No chance, it was May 17 after all.

After months of waiting, the doors of pubs across the area were thrown open to customers as Covid-19 regulations eased to enable indoor hospitality.

Gary Carter pulls a christmas cracker with landlady Rebecca

For all, it was a real reason to breathe a huge sigh of relief. For some, it was a chance to make up for lost time.

That is what the Stamford Arms, on the border between Stalybridge and Mossley, did as it still put on Christmas dinners, 143 days after December 25.

And being a sucker for a good meal, The Correspondent’s Gary Carter joined in.

Despite the delay – not the conditions as it was still grey and fairly chilly – the Huddersfield Road venue still echoed to the sounds of Mariah Carey, Wham and other Christmas records.

Dinner is served -christmas dinner, pig in blankets included, in May!

After a starter of soup, you could order anything of the menu but spring rolls or halloumi fries followed by turkey and stuffing just does not seem right, it was time for the staple – followed by, of course, Christmas pudding.

Tables had crackers on and there were paper hats – and rubbish jokes – aplenty as landlady Rebecca Jones created an atmosphere just like normal.

Being finally in a pub proved too much for some who welled up with tears at just being in their favourite hostelry once again.

Munching away at pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, stuffing and, of course, sprouts, it really did feel like Christmas.

So did the snooze afterwards. All that was missing was the Queen’s Speech to sleep through.

Despite the fun and smiles on faces, there was a serious side to putting Christmas dinners on the menu at the Stamford Arms, even though a couple of staff members were not overly keen on the idea.

Landlady Rebecca Jones, whose mother Denise Lignum did the same at the Cross Keys in the hills above Uppermill, said: “We’d dressed the pub up, hoping that we’d be able to open for Christmas.

“But then we weren’t allowed to and a lot of customers said they were really disappointed they couldn’t come in and see the decorations as they’d spotted them as they walked past.

“So, we decided to put it to a staff vote, are we going to do Christmas in May, and the majority said yes.

“We had a couple who voted against and said we should be looking forward rather than backward.

“But I felt that everyone had missed out on so much, we just wanted to give something back and bring everyone back into the spirit of the pub reopening.

“It’s our second Christmas in charge. We took over in August 2019 then got shut down the following March!

“The latest lockdown went as well as we hoped it would. The first couple of weeks were great as we had lovely weather.

“Even when it wasn’t great, people sat outside and braved the rain, wind and cold. We’ve had some diehards out!

“Our quiet days were our quiet days anyway but the later on we got, things got busier and busier.
“Come in on Monday, May 24, there were no decorations whatsoever!”

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