(l-r) Rupert Skill, Arthur’s great grandson (left) with his long-lost relative Nicholas, Alexandra Hotel managers Anna and Ralf Dyson-Edge, Castle Rock director Vicki Saxby, and Rachel Waterfall – soon to become Mrs Skill
The Derby and Nottingham branches of an East Midland’s family have been reunited, thanks to a beer brewed to celebrate the achievements and legacy of their common ancestor Arthur Skill.
Recently, we organised The Skills’ pub tour to celebrate the launch of our first Nottinghamian beer of 2019, Arthur Skill.
The milk stout with coffee was named honouring the memory of Arthur Skill whose enterprise 100 years ago has grown into Skills Holidays, now one of the regions largest tour companies, and on the 20th January it was Skills that provided a coach for us to take 57 loyal real ale fans on a mini-Castle Rock pub crawl.
First off, as a reminder of the original Skills’ route, to Derby, where we stopped at the Alexandra Hotel. Then on to the Swan in the Rushes in Loughborough, next to Bingham’s Horse and Plough, to finish up at the Embankment at Trent Bridge.
At each pub, we sampled ‘Arthur Skill’ marking the 100th anniversary of his firm, and celebrating this remarkable young man and his achievements.
The Derby-bound party departs Nottingham from the Vat and Fiddle
What we didn’t expect to do with our pub crawl, was to reintroduce Skill’s family to each other…
To the Nottingham side Arthur was a great grandfather while, for their Derbyshire-based kinsmen, as brother to their great grandfather, Hector, Arthur was a great great uncle.
As a 19 year old, in 1919, Arthur bought a fish lorry which doubled as a people carrier to take workmen to places of employment including an industrial plant in Spondon. Meanwhile, his brother Hector, continued his recovery from injuries sustained in the Great War before going on to work in the family fish and chip business.
Over the years, the families lost regular contact. That is, until Nicholas spotted that the Alexandra pub on Derby’s Siddals Road was to host the launch of ‘Arthur Skill’.
For the distant cousins, this was a first ever, and unexpected, meeting. Nicholas, who is a farrier in Brailsford, Derbyshire, his brother Tom, son Archie and their dad, another Arthur, met Rupert Skill, private hire sales manager at Skills in Nottingham who was acting as courier on a coach touring East Midland’s pubs in pursuit of ‘Arthur Skill’, the beer.
(l-r) Rupert Skill, Arthur’s great grandson (left) with his long lost relatives, Tom, Nicholas, Arthur, and Archie Skill and Rachel Waterfall
“This was complete shock to meet these long lost cousins,” says Rupert. “I hadn’t been tipped off by the brewery nor by Ralf and Anna the landlords at the Alex that they were waiting for me. They had photos to show and memories to share as we caught up on the years we’ve missed.
“Now we’re close, this is one family tie that’ll certainly regrow,” he says.
Arthur Skill, the Nottingham Celebration Ale.