The Providence Inn (Providence Street) might be Plymouth's most hidden, small and cosy pub. Friendly and welcoming (fireplace included) it has a solid regular clientele and a changing selection of ales. Its reputation for cider is second to none! It was known for its Civil War and WWII memorabilia on the walls. After the landlord Peter Pratt died in 2000, George Harvey took over. He retired recently but the pub is still going strong with Shirley at the helm.
The only time I have been barred from a pub was in the Providence Inn in the 1970’s. The pub was owned by an ex-policeman called Jim. It was a very noisy Saturday night and Jim eventually went upstairs to pass out. While he was asleep, a fight broke out in the bar and I broke it up. When we returned to the pub the next day, Jim accused me of causing trouble. It’s not like me but I tore him to shreds verbally, backed him into the Ladies’ toilet and shut the door in his face. He banned me.
Margaret is a councillor for the Drake Ward that Greenbank sits in. She regularly goes on a ‘Ward Stomp’ during which she walks through the ward and takes pictures of problems, mainly rubbish and graffiti. Her aim is to find 10 problems before finishing the stomp. At the end, she likes to pop into the Providence Inn for a well-earned pint. She started coming in here during her 2017 election campaign. She says that the prospect of a pint in the Provi carried her through long days of door-knocking and campaigning. She has fond memories of George, who ran the pub at the time, and his cat. He’s a historic re-enactor and used to have all sorts of historic weapons in the pub. He even let people put gauntlets and gloves on and wield a flintlock!
The blackboard in the men's toilets
Both toilets in the Provi have blackboards and punters can write or draw anything they like on it. Legend has it that the board in the men's toilets is built from planks that used to constitute the stage of a London theatre. It is said that Patrick Swayze has danced on the wood in the Provi toilets! Make of it what you will... Another curious occurence is that someone regularly draws a Catalan independence flag on the men's blackboard. I'm very curious to know who this is as it is a rather niche interest in Plymouth!
About 20 years ago I was playing for the First and Half team against the Provi. We were playing the last game of the season at the First and Half (now Heaven) on Exeter Street. The landlady casually mentioned that if I won my game, we would win the league over the Clifton. I hadn't realised that until she told me! I was about 300 ahead and then just couldn't hit my doubles. I ended up losing my game and we drew the league with the Clifton.
A Provi cider drinker
Favourite Pint on Greenbank: Cold pint of Thatchers in the Provi
Sat at the bar after work on a cold wet evening, fire burning away, George behind the bar, a few of the older regulars perched on bar stools having a general conversation when a well known 'druggie/crim' walked in and asked if anyone was interested in buying anything for a tenner, started pulling bacon and Playstation games out of her carrier bag, George told her firmly 'not in here - No thank you' and to leave but her passing shot as she walked out the door was to pull two pink vibrators out of the bag still in packaging, looked at the blokes, said, you sure 'not even vibrator for the missus, no , fair enough' and left.... the stunned silence in the pub was amusing... I was roaring inside, talk about need to know your sales audience!
Jon Reed aka Cider Jon
Favourite Pint on Greenbank: Cider obviously!
Moved to north hill 2000 and became something of a fixture in the Provi straight away, first time I went in was a few days after the previous landlord, Pete Pratt, had died suddenly in the pub. It was love at first drink! I used to go to the Hill Park usually on a run around with Cockney Mick (who isn't cockney) and Keith Hunter, along with the Mutley Tavern, the Clifton, the Friendship and only once I think in the Fawn before Mike and Ang took it.
Jon sent a historic picture too: the last pint of cider in the Providence Inn before lockdown!