Beloved former publican Godfrey hits the century

Former Leith publican Godfrey Smith has celebrated his 100th birthday.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 12th September 2011, 3:15 pm

Godfrey, who was born on September 8, 1911, grew up in the Port’s Trafalgar Street and went to Cupar Street School.

He met his wife, Lydia, at a dance at Leith Town Hall, and moved the short distance to nearby Gosford Place when they were married, in 1938. They have lived in the area ever since, only moving home once – just five doors along the same street.

During the Second World War, Godfrey worked as a firefighter at Lauriston Place, continuing in that role for seven years before turning his hand to bar work.

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He worked in his brother Curly’s pub at the bowling green, following which he decided to buy his own pub, the Red Lion on Leith Walk.

Later, the pub was renamed the Shrub Bar, which Godfrey and his family ran successfully for many years – Godfrey proved to be a highly popular and much-respected publican, and has kept in touch with many of his regular customers over the years.

His eldest son, also Godfrey, 67, took over the pub when his father retired in 1976, aged 65. Godfrey’s other son, David, 64, followed his father and brother into the pub trade, running the Stone Pier Inn, at Newhaven.

Over the years, Godfrey has travelled extensively, and enjoyed many holidays with Lydia in California, Las Vegas and various Spanish resorts.

He spent occasional Saturday afternoons on the terraces at Easter Road, cheering on Hibs.

Although he would regularly test his skills on the bowling green in the early days, Godfrey found that the long hours spent running his pub restricted the time he had to devote to his pastime, although he and Lydia enjoyed games of tennis together at Broughton Park when time allowed.

Godfrey and Lydia, 94, have five grandchildren – Godfrey, 43, Simon, 38, Emma, 29, Nicola, 35, and David, 26. They also have three great-grandchildren, Jamie, who is five and just started school, Evie, two, and most recent arrival, Thomas, who will be two next month.

Their family all continue to reside within or close to the Leith area, much to Godfrey and Lydia’s delight.

The secret to Godfrey’s longevity is his long and happy marriage to Lydia – in fact, this month has been a double celebration, with the couple having celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary on September 5.

Although he didn’t start drinking until he was 50, Godfrey enjoys a daily dram at home before dinner.

Lydia said that Godfrey’s 100th birthday was marked just as he had wanted – by visits from the family, and several of his closest friends.

“He received a card from the Queen, too, which now takes pride of place beside the one we received from her on the occasion of our 70th wedding anniversary, three years ago.”