'I transformed the roughest pub in East Yorkshire - there's one rule everyone has to follow'

-Credit: (Image: Samuel Port)
-Credit: (Image: Samuel Port)

A landlord who transformed ‘the roughest pub in East Yorkshire’ has spoken about how he got the punters to stop fighting and causing mayhem in his boozer.

Chris Bailey, 51, was parachuted in to turn around the fortunes of The Jailhouse, now called The Mulberry, in Goole. The dad-of-two was only supposed to manage the bar for three months but ended up staying for 20 years after falling in love with the place.

The pub in Aire Street has gone through many different guises during its history. It was originally a 19th century police station, then a Mariners’ hospital and even a labour exchange. Afterwards it was boarded up and sat derelict for many years before it was then converted into a pub.

Read more: Life in 'forgotten' Yorkshire town desperate to shake its harsh nickname

The pub opened as The Jailhouse, named after the building’s original usage, in November 2003. The rowdiness and antisocial behaviour were completely out of control in the early days. Chris said: “This was classed as the roughest pub in East Yorkshire.

"It had only been opened for about seven or eight months and the police was going to take the license off them. They had more trouble, more fights, more incidents in this pub than the whole of East Yorkshire. This was going to get closed down.”

'If you're out of order, you're out the door'

The pub company got in touch with Chris, from Barnsley, to come in as the new manager and sort it out as he had a great reputation for running bars and being ‘hands on’. Chris said when he arrived for the first time, it was “extremely busy”.

Chris Bailey, manager of The Mulberry, previously known as The Jailhouse
Pub manager Chris spoke about his golden rules -Credit:Samuel Port

He then had an interview with the police, where he told them: “Give me three months and I’ll sort your pub out. Then I’m out of here.”

Chris then went about turning around the fortunes of the embattled boozer. He said: “All I had to do was talk to people. I live by that as my rule; if you’re out of order, you’re out of the door.

“If you don’t want to abide by them rules then don’t come in – but if you want to come in and have some fun, then you’re more than welcome. It’s as simple as that.”

He added the fact he was an outsider coming into Goole was massively beneficial to start with as he was perceived as a calm neutral mediatory figure. He’d candidly tell the troublemakers his golden rule.

He said: “I didn’t have an axe to grind or sides to take. I didn’t know anybody. I pointed that out to everybody.”

The 51-year-old added that having boundaries and rules, and mercilessly implementing them is the key to success. He said: “If anybody is unruly, we like to drag them to one side and talk them down. We try to encourage them to leave and come back another time.”

Secrets to success

Chris Bailey, manager of The Mulberry, previously known as The Jailhouse
Chris Bailey, manager of The Mulberry, previously known as The Jailhouse -Credit:Samuel Port

Chris has added the secrets to success of running a pub for so long, include includes being welcoming to people, providing fast service, value for money with competitive pricing and providing a comfortable and clean environment.

Developing a good relationship with regulars also helps. Chris said: “I am not the best at remembering names, but I will remember drinks. If I see a face and I’ve served them once, then I usually know exactly what drink that they will have. I may not see them for a couple of years, but I’ll remember their drinks – I always have done.”

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Chris fell in love with Goole and even became the mayor of the port town in 2019 as an independent candidate. He was in office for about 18 months. He's also become a wildly successful property landlord in the area, and now owns 11 homes.

In recent years, the pub was renamed The Mulberry as it was seen as a ‘less threatening name’, with ‘Jailhouse’ conjuring up negative connotations. The pub company wanted a ‘feminine friendly name,’ says Chris.

They settled on the name ‘The Mulberry’ as it is a reference to Mulberry Harbour, a floating harbour built in Goole, which was used in D-Day landing, and was consistent with names of other places in Goole.

Repeat ‘aggressive’ offenders

Chris Bailey, manager of The Mulberry, previously known as The Jailhouse
Chris became the Chair of The Goole Club and Pub Watch -Credit:Samuel Port

To tackle repeat rowdy ‘aggressive’ offenders, Chris became the Chairman of Goole Club and Pub Watch. When a person is barred from an establishment in Goole, they’re put on the ‘Pub Watch’.

There are nine bars in the group, and they meet once a month with Humberside Police. During their meetings, within the agenda, they discuss: who is coming off the Pub Watch; new incidents; a police report; and finally, any other business. This can include break-ins within the area, individuals released from prison, forgery notes, upcoming events and how they’ll co-ordinate timings around it, like Euros or when coach loads of football fans visit the town.

Chris awarded one of the lengthiest Pub Watch bans about a year ago. Two lads, from Bridlington, had travelled to The Mulberry, as they were barred from pubs in their hometown. During their time at the pub, they were throwing glasses against the building. Chris said he was so “disgusted” by their actions as they could have hit someone, and barred them for five years.

Chris Bailey, manager of The Mulberry, previously known as The Jailhouse
Chris sees the Pub Watch as a deterrent and just wants everyone to have fun -Credit:Samuel Port

Chris explained: “One of my pet hates is glass, and unfortunately, we serve all of our drinks in glass. When glasses are thrown, a glass can be sharper than any knife and it can do so much damage. I don’t think some people realise this. Damage not just to property, but to people. It could be life changing.

“I’ve witnessed people throwing glasses and I’ve seen someone getting glassed – not in my establishment – and the effects it has on them, mentally, because of the disfigurement. Not just for weeks, months but for the rest of their life.”

Generally, those who come off Pub Watch are people who have caused criminal damage while ‘smashing things up due to anger’ and have been barred for about 12 months. Chris says after this time, these offenders have usually ‘seen the error of their ways’.

Chris sees the Pub Watch as more of a ‘deterrent’ and just wants everyone to ‘have fun’. His 20th anniversary of becoming The Mulberry/Jailhouse landlord is fast approaching.

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