Whaley Bridge was mentioned in the major press coverage, following the death of Betty Driver at 91. The Coronation Street star for 42 years ran the Cock pub on Buxton Road for a few years, with her sister Freda who lived locally.
Customers, who remember Betty behind the bar in the late 60s and early 70s, recall another occasional drinker at the Cock – Street producer Harry Kershaw. He persuaded Betty to join the cast as barmaid Betty Turpin, after she had failed an earlier audition for the part of Hilda Ogden. Betty pulled pints in the Rover’s Return for the next 41 years. Her Lancashire hot pots became legendary.
Present day licensee Lou Haynes’s hotpots are becoming famous, too, At the Cock they are served in an individual white crock. Lou uses local beef rather than lamb. The Cock recently served 110 crocks to a funeral party.
A letter in the Daily Telegraph from former Whaley resident Judith Hewitt , now of Birmingham, recalled: “As newly weds in the sixties, our local was the Cock Inn. We walked to the pub with Treacle, our labrador. The first thing that Betty would do was fill an ashtray with draught Guinness for Treacle. We often walked home with the dog leaning against our legs as a result of Betty’s largesse!”
Lou Haynes has been at the Cock since January 2003. Before then, she nursed in Macclesfield. She was born in London, but moved to Alderley Edge when she was 13.
There have been local suggestions that a blue plaque should be erected at The Cock, recalling Whaley Bridge’s best known celebrity who pulled real pints there long before her career in the Rover’s Return.
Lou said: “That’s an awesome idea.” She already has Betty Driver’s picture as part of a montage of photos on the front of the menu booklet.
Betty Driver was not the only Street star to run a local pub. Pat Phoenix, who played the vamp Elsie Tanner, was once landlady of the Navigation Inn at Buxworth.
Story and photos by James Middleton