John Brunt V.C. (public house)


The John Brunt V.C. is a public house in Paddock Wood in Kent. Originally named The Kent Arms, on 3 September 1947 the pub was formally renamed John Brunt V.C. in honour of an English soldier, John Brunt, who won the Victoria Cross in the Second World War who spent his teenage years in the town. It is the only pub in England to be named after a Victoria Cross holder.cite book|last=Snow|first=Richard|title=All for Valour (The Story of Captain John Brunt V.C., M.C.)|year=2006|month=September|publisher=The Marketing Solution|location=Paddock Wood, Kent]

The Early Years

The Brunt family settled in Paddock Wood in the 1930s and their son, John, was a frequent visitor to The Kent Arms as a teenager. He was killed fighting in the second world war, on 10 December 1944, in Italy. On 3 September 1947 a naming ceremony took place, and a new sign (designed by Kathleen M Claxton, and built at Whitbread's Wateringbury brewery), bearing a portrait of John with his name underneath, was unveiled by his father, Thomas Brunt. A miniature replica of the sign painted in oils was presented to Brunt by Sir Sydney Nevile, Managing Director of Whitbread and Co Ltdcite news|title = The Kent and Sussex Courier|publisher = Courier Newspapers|date = 5th September 1947]

In 1951 Whitbread began issuing 2" x 3" metal plaques featuring Kent pub signs. Five series of 50 each were produced, and number 43 was The John Brunt V.C.

The "Hooden Horse" controversy

By the late 1990s, the pub had gained a reputation for drugs, trouble and after-hours drinking and the Whitbread brewery sold it to the Hooden Horse Inns pub chain. On Sunday 1 June 1997, after a final night disco, the pub closed. The new owners announced that it was going to be renamed The Hopping Hooden Horse because of the hop cultivation in the area, and that it would have the initials JBVC after the name to retain the history of the town. Within a week work had begun on renovating the pub, and no more than two days after an article in the local newspaper revealed the plans a campaign to retrieve the pub sign, and a petition to retain the original name had been started.

The owner of Hooden Horse Inns, Mr. Alex Bensley, after receiving many letters of complaint announced that: "All our pubs contain the corporate Hooden Horse name and there was simply no way we could have made the place work under the name John Brunt V.C." and the newly-renamed pub opened 6 days before the 50 year anniversary of the original naming ceremony on 28 August 1997. Bob Akehurst, a Paddock Wood resident, threatened to stand against the existing Paddock Wood councillors in the local elections if they didn't take appropriate action to ensure that John Brunt's name was remembered.cite news|title = The Kent and Sussex Courier|publisher = Courier Newspapers|date = 7th Novemer 1997]

Many former customers refused to enter the pub now that the name had changed and Mr. Akehurst, who remembered John Brunt, said that to "call the place The Hopping Hooden Horse is, frankly, ridiculous.".cite news|title = The Sunday Telegraph|date = 16th November 1997]

John Brunt in the 21st Century

In June 2001 Rita and Terry Dixon took over the pub from Hooden Horse Inns and immediately decided to revert to the old name, which was greeted with enthusiasm by Paddock Wood residents. Several customers who had refused to drink there under the Hooden Horse name now returned (although even during that time, the pub was still known by local residents simply as "The Brunt").cite news|title = The Kent and Sussex Courier|publisher = Courier Newspapers|date = 27th July 1997] Unfortunately the original signs had been lost when the pub changed its name, although the "John Brunt V.C." brass wording that used to hang on the outside wall was found at the nearby hop farm.

References


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