Monday, 4 August 2008

WRONG: JD Wetherspoon founded a chain of pubs

The name may conjure an image of a genial 19th-century Yorkshire brewer with muttonchop sideburns and a leather apron, but that’s just what they want you to think. Like Mr Kipling, JD Wetherspoon never existed. (Sara Lee, on the other hand, did. She was the daughter of Charles Lubin, the founder of Kitchens Of Sara Lee, a frozen baked-goods company that later became simply The Sara Lee Corporation. Sara Lee Schupf went on to become a philanthropist, supporting especially the cause of women in science.)

The chain was actually founded in 1979 by a 24-year-old law student called Tim Martin. The 6’6”, mullet-sporting Ulsterman took the name “Wetherspoon” from one of his teachers, while the “JD” – brilliantly – came from JD “Boss” Hogg in The Dukes Of Hazzard.

Martin supposedly modelled the chain itself on an essay by George Orwell about a fantasy pub called The Moon Under Water, which offered a quiet, drunkard-free atmosphere with friendly staff and no music. A reading of Orwell’s essay, however, demonstrates that something must have been lost in translation – he demanded beer in pewter or china mugs, open fires, liver-sausage sandwiches, strictly Victorian fittings and “motherly barmaids”.

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