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The Bellflower

In February 1929 plans for a new hotel at Nateby (later to become the XL) for the Blackpool brewery Catterall and Swarbrick were approved. These original plans can be seen at the Lancashire Archives.

The Garstang By Pass had opened in 1926, and carried traffic from north to south instead of it going through the town centre. The brewery would appear to have seen an opportunity for a hotel on what was a busy main road and applied for planning permission.

The XL name came from one of the brewery’s ales, and at one time it appeared in the Guinness Book of Records as the pub with the shortest name.

The Fleetwood Chronicle dated 12th September 1930 carried an article about the brewery, in which they said:

Recently they opened at Nateby near Garstang. the Hotel Excel, a road-side inn in the new style. An example of a progressive policy which has seen the rebuilding and modernisation of several of the older houses in Blackpool“.

From the Sam Lang Collection
The X-L with the AA box on the corner of Longmoor Lane

An early landlord of the pub was Arnold Crewe, the secretary of the Garstang Licensed Victuallers Association , and a member of the Poulton Lodge of Freemasons. His mother, Alice Crewe kept a boarding house on Blackpool promenade, so he was brought up in the hospitality trade.

Sadly he died at the pub on Saturday 6th August 1932, aged fifty. He had been playing dominoes with friends when he suddenly collapsed and died before medical aid could reach him.

1932: The licence for the hotel was taken over by Arnold’s widow, Annie.

1933: Licence was held by Mr A Blackhurst

1934? Francis Hookum

1940:Licensee was Charles Fitzgerald Holcroft.

1944: Mr. Arthur C. Cambage. of Broadway, Fleetwood, the manager of the Marine Hall in Fleetwood took over as manager. Mr. Cambage had served in the Fleetwood Home Guard as a private in May 1940, and after two years as Captain and Second-In-Command, became Major and Officer Commanding In May 1944. He had previously served in the Army during WW2 for most of the time in France and Belgium.

1946: The licence was transferred to Frank McQuirk, of Ombersley.

In 1957 the hotel put an advertisement in a local paper for a head chef. Payment would be between £15 and £20 per week, and living in accommodation was provided.

Around the 1960s the pub name was changed to The Chequered Flag, later abbreviated to The Flag. The reason for the name change was described in the local paper as being ‘because everyone stops at the Chequered Flag’.

The pub had thriving darts and dominoes teams which were part of the local league.

Live music became a big part of the pub, with local band Sixteen Men Swinging playing there every Monday night and more live music at weekends. Many locals have fond memories of a very busy and lively pub.

Fishing competitions were run from the pub, with fishing on the nearby Lancaster canal – often to raise money for charity.

Garstang By Pass looking north with the X-L on the left