“I WAS only 11 when my father took over the King’s Head in Ferryhill, and I loved the thrill of living in a pub,” remembers Keith Robson.

“I remember the horsedrawn dray, the large 36 gallon wooden barrels of Vaux Best, and also learning how to tap barrels and re-filter the beer that was left in the barrels after tilting.”

Keith’s father, Alan, ran the pub in Durham Road from 1969 to 1973.

“It was a strange old pub, and the concert room upstairs was haunted – the dog wouldn’t go in there,” he says.

But at least the bar was well haunted by the German engineers who were staying locally to landscape the Dean and Chapter pitheap.

“I also remember the signwriter turning up and I stayed off school to watch him hand paint the new sign and apply the gold paper to the letters – fantastic skills now gone.”

But then came progress.

“One day the cellar technical services turned up with new gas powered cellar pumps and metal drums called kegs. The new products were Silver Tankard and Norseman lager.

“This new gas drawn and pasteurised beer did not go down well at all, but I’ve still got a tankard that the brewery gave my father.

“My own connection with Vaux came through football in 1996 when, after helping Darlington FC, I went with the club owner Reg Brealey to run Grantham Town FC,” he says. “They played in the Doc Martins Premier League and had a council-built £7m stadium, which I also managed.

“When I arrived, it was apparent the bar facilities needed updating. I rang Vaux, they remembered my father and put me in touch with Wards of Sheffield.” Wards was the brewery that was taken over by Vaux in 1972.

“They were fantastic and fitted out the bar in new colours and badged up the stadium selling Lambtons beer,” he says.

Wards collapsed with Vaux in 1999 as the brewery’s hotels arm – Swallow – staged a financial coup, although Vaux’s most famous beers are still brewed by a private company on the edge of Sunderland.

“Vaux have very much followed me around in life,” says Keith, “as I now run a soul bar once a month and sell bottled Double Maxim, and I work as the maintenance manager at the Eden Arms in Rushyford – a very old and famous Swallow hotel.”

LINDA EBDON has her grandmother Janet’s Vaux bottleopener. Janet brought her 18 children up in the Ayres Quay area in the centre of Sunderland before moving out to new houses at Plains Farm in 1939.

Her youngest child was Linda’s mother, Ann Hindmarsh Howe, who was named after the midwife who delivered her.

“Her father and brothers were riveters in the shipyards and her father cobbled and mended clocks in his spare time,” says Linda. “In her twilight years, my mother would tell stories of how her mother, Janet, would take in washing when the shipyards were on strike – my grandfather refused to get help from the parish, so someone had to earn to feed the family.”

PAT and Gary Latue in Bowburn remember how in the early 1960s, when you bought a Vaux beer you would get a stamp to go on a form. When your form was full, if you answered a question correctly – what is the sport of kings? – you stood a chance of being among the 1,000 winners of a daytrip to Blackpool.

“We used to go to the Railway Tavern at the bottom of Coxhoe where the landlord, Bob Kell and his wife Irene, were generous with the stamps," say Pat and Gary.

This enabled them to enter several forms, and they won an all-expenses paid daytrip to the pleasure beach.

A coach took them to Blackpool, stopping at a Vaux pub in Kirkby Stephen for refreshments.

Once in Blackpool, they were served a three course meal, washed down with a bottle of Double Maxim, at the Spanish Hall in the Winter Gardens.

Then it was up the famous tower.

“Soon after we got to the top, the illuminations were switched on – it was a wonderful sight, and a day we have always remembered,” they say.

MANY thanks to everyone who has been in touch about railway housing – a surprisingly large response. More next week.