Local Faces: The Gower Family
Wendover went into mourning for Pat Gower’s funeral on 3 June 2020, 57 years landlady of The Packhorse, see https://bit.ly/2VzlZ7C. Her family have benefitted greatly from the wisdom and business acumen shown by Pat and her husband Bert, see also https://bit.ly/3fuBLYn. Pat and Bert had been landlords of the Packhorse since 1963 when they became tenants of Aylesbury Brewery Company. They had the opportunity to buy The Packhorse through Moorlands Brewery in 1991. Bert jumped at the opportunity of securing Pat’s future after he had gone, as his health was deteriorating.
After Bert’s death in 1992, her daughter, Pauline and son-in-law Jim joined Pat on the licence. Pat was still the beloved matriarch of the family, locally famous as the welcoming landlady of The Packhorse where she continued to pull pints until she was 80. In 1996, Pat and Jim decided to invest in a second pub, The White Swan, in Wendover High Street. The solid family partnership of Pat behind the bar, Jim doing the heavy lifting and cellar work, and Pauline controlling the books very tightly meant that The Packhorse was able to maintain a traditional pub atmosphere, including games and participating in a local darts league which extended into Aylesbury with the now long-lost Ex-Servicemen’s Club and the recently saved Rothschild Arms in Aston Clinton. With Paul (not a family member) looking after The Swan, Wendover still had a place to play cribbage and dominoes, too. No food other than snacks has ever been needed to attract punters to these venues.
Come the Coronavirus epidemic, the entire hospitality industry was challenged. Tenants of the big breweries could not pay their rents but as owners, the Gower family did not have that expenditure, could rationalise and survive. Pauline and family were devastated when Pat died of pneumonia on 18 May 2020 but proud that this was the day after the 57th anniversary of her name being on the licence!
When re-opening finally became possible this year, the entire family came together to make sure The Packhorse would look its best to welcome back friends and customers.
Mother and daughter, Pauline and Stacey set about re-upholstering the chairs. Son Joshua, an electrician, replaced the lighting and the floor was renewed. Grandson Kieron stripped and repainted the outdoor tables. Pauline’s daughter Emma painted the new sign and tiles for the fireplace. Emma added her own sentimental touch in remembrance of Pat and Bert as robins in the Packhorse sign. After learning the opening date, loyal customers were queuing outside and Pauline and Jim welcomed them in with open arms.