Tributes paid to popular Sunderland pub boss

Tommy Pulling with wife Jane
Tommy Pulling with wife Jane

Tributes have been paid after the death of a well-known Sunderland pub boss.

Thomas Pulling - known as Tommy - has died aged 86. He ran the The Sandhills and The Jovial Friar.

Tommy Pulling

Tommy Pulling

Born in Baltic Terrace, Pallion, he went to Pallion Infants School until he was evacuated at the age of eight, alongside older sisters Sadie and Audrey.

“He thought he was going on a picnic with the school, but instead he got sent to Yorkshire,” said daughter Sharon Willis.

Billeted on a farm just outside York, Tommy adored it: “It was lovely where they were - there were no houses around. He loved it,” said Sharon.

In fact Tommy was so happy that he stayed in Yorkshire after the war and lived there until he was called up at the age of 19.

They all used to sing ‘There’s only one Tommy Pulling.’ He was very strict but he ran a good pub.

Sharon Willis

He spent four years in the Army, serving in Suez and reaching the rank of sergeant before retuning to Sunderland in 1953.

Training as a plumber, he went to work at Steels Engineering in 1954, the same year he met wife-to-be Jane, whose father Robert Nicholas ran The Black Swan in Hylton Road.

The couple were married at Bishopwearmouth Church - now Sunderland Minster - in 1956.

Tommy became landlord of The Sandhills at Grindon in 1970 and ran the pub for three years, then moved to The Jovial Friar, where he spent the next decade before taking over a pub in Newcastle.

Tommy Pulling at school, third from right in the second row.

Tommy Pulling at school, third from right in the second row.

“He was very well-known,” said Jane.

“They all used to sing ‘There’s only one Tommy Pulling.’ He was very strict but he ran a good pub.

“The Jovial Friar was lovely when my dad had it. It was always crowded - you couldn’t get in there on a Friday and Saturday night - but there was never any trouble.”

Tommy had been suffering from dementia for the last ten years, but the family cared for him at home.

Tommy Pulling during his National Service

Tommy Pulling during his National Service

“I will just miss seeing him every day,” said Sharon.

“People used to say we had lost him a long time agon but at least I could still see him.”

As well as Sharon and her brother Nicholas, Tommy is survived by grandchildren Graeme, Adam, Neil and Nathan and great-grandchildren Coleton, Layla, Carson and Rosie.

A funeral service will be held at Sunderland Crematorium at 1.30pm on February 16, followed by a reception at The Rosedene.