A LANDLADY has called time on her career behind the bar after helping raise thousands for charity.
Pat Iley spent 12 years as tenant of The Excelsior in Hendon, and was a barmaid at the Victorian-built pub for eight years before that.
But she’s pulled her last pint at the Lawrence Street watering hole – bowing out by presenting hundreds of pounds to charity.
“I will always have great memories of The Excelsior – of our parties, charity work and wonderful regulars,” said Pat.
Pat was born at St Patrick’s Garth and, after leaving Hudson Road School, started her career in the pub trade at Sunderland’s Grand Hotel.
“I was 15 at the time, although I told them I was 18 to get the job, and I worked in the Gentleman’s Lounge,” she recalls.
“It was the biggest hotel in town and I thought it was quite posh. It was called The Grand and it lived up to its name. Sadly, it has gone now.”
Pat went on the work at pubs and clubs across the North East, including Durham and Seaham, before starting at The Excelsior in 1991.
“There was a lot more industry around the pub back then. The East End and Hendon were buzzing,” she said.
Pat’s ties to The Excelsior date back to long before 1991, however, as her grandmother was a regular at the pub for many years.
“The pub used to have two rooms before being knocked through, and the piano always used to be going in the back one,” she said.
“My nana used to drink here, as did a lot of older people. They’d all come along for a sing-song around the piano in the back.”
Pat has seen other changes, including the demise of many of Sunderland’s traditional industries.
Today the streets around The Excelsior – the only building in Lawrence Street – are far quieter than in 1991, and passing trade is minimal.
“Pubs are a dying trade, really, at the moment,” said Pat.
“Although things have changed, I’ll miss The Excelsior. I met so many great people there over the years, and we’ve had some great times.”