The publicans of a highly valued Lincolnshire village pub have been recognised for their service to the community on their 40th anniversary at the helm.
Believed to be the longest-serving licensee in Coningsby and the surrounding area, 67-year-old Carol Scanlan of The Black Swan was presented with a long-service award by the pub’s owners, Star Pubs & Bars.
Carol was just 27 when she took on The Black Swan in 1983 with her late husband Tom, transforming it from a little used local serving a barrel of beer a week into a hub of Coningsby life. Since Tom’s death seven years ago, Carol’s son Lee – who grew up at the pub and has helped out since his teens – has returned to run it full time, whilst these days Carol is more likely to be found on the other side of the bar, collecting glasses and chatting with customers.
Having revamped the pub when they took over, the Scanlans have kept its ‘olde worlde’ traditional look. Horse brasses and pictures of The Black Swan and Coningsby in bygone days adorn the walls of the beamed pub – which is thought to date back to the 1800s – and a log burner adds to the cosy atmosphere. Other than crisps and nuts, The Black Swan serves no food. As in the 1980s, the emphasis is on pouring a perfect pint and providing a friendly meeting place for villagers. Staff know everyone by name and go out of their way to make new customers feel welcome and comfortable. The pub also fulfils an important role for personnel from RAF Coningsby as a home away from home where they can get to know the village.
Inspired by Tom – who helped revitalise Coningsby football team – sports is also a big feature of the pub. Coningsby football team still drinks at The Black Swan, and the pub has a pool table, pool teams and a darts board and hosts screenings of major tournaments for residents.
Originally from Liverpool, Carol and Tom only planned to stay at The Black Swan for ten years. Recalls Carol, “We immediately fell in love with the pub and clicked with the regulars. They soon became good friends, I’ve been serving some for 40 years, and their children and grandchildren are now customers. It’s my love of the pub, the people and the community that keep me here. It’s not work to me; there’s nowhere I’d rather be. I couldn’t have kept going for so long without Lee’s help. It’s fantastic that he is carrying on the family tradition.”
Sharing his parents’ passion for The Black Swan, 36-year-old Lee is determined to keep it thriving for residents to enjoy for many years to come. Comments Lee: “I’m very proud of mum and dad’s achievements. Coningsby has changed out of all recognition since they started out. I can see how much people appreciate the sense of continuity the pub provides, and how it can help introduce new residents to the village. I am delighted to have the chance to keep that going. I can’t think of any other job that would give me so much satisfaction.”
Adds Dan Littlewood, Star Pubs & Bars’ area manager for Lincolnshire: “This award couldn’t be more well deserved. Carol and Lee are respected figures of their community. They are always thinking about others, and their warm welcome and care for their customers shine through at The Black Swan. Thanks to the Scanlan family’s genuine hospitality over four decades, The Black Swan has stood the test of time and epitomises all that is best about the great British local. It’s a fantastic achievement and testimony to the important role that pubs continue to play in society.”