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Friday, 01 August 2014

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Picture discovered of legendary Cumbria pub landlord Blue Lugs

Researchers have discovered a rare photo of the legendary Carlisle pub landlord known as Blue Lugs.

Blue Lugs photo
The photo of Isaac Graham – Blue Lugs – outside the Joiners Arms in Caldewgate

Published today for the first time, this blurry picture was passed on to organisers of a project which aims to tell the story of how Carlisle’s pub trade was nationalised as part of a unique social experiment lasting more than 50 years.

The ‘Image of Blue Lugs’ is just one of the images that may help tell the story of the “State Management Scheme”.

It was introduced in 1916 as part of the wartime Government’s attempt to stop binge drinking among munitions workers in Carlisle.

Drinking hours were restricted, and the buying of rounds was banned.

More than 100 pubs, from Silloth to Annan, were nationalised, and the landlords involved had to sign the Official Secrets Act. The scheme continued until 1973.

Funded by a £10,000 Lottery grant, the project to celebrate and highlight the scheme is due to kick off with an exhibition about its birth at the Old Fire Station in Rickergate from May 23 to 26.

The plans include opening a State Management Pub Trail, with exhibits and displays at some of the pubs involved.

Ultimately, the intention is to have a permanent State Management Scheme exhibition in the city.

“The exhibition’s purpose will be to tell the story of the birth of the State Management Scheme,” said Viv Dodd, secretary of the Carlisle City Business Group, which is spearheading the initiative.

“Since the News & Star published a story about the pub trail, quite a few people have been in touch with memorabilia, including a woman who sent in a picture of Blue Lugs.

“Another got in touch to tell us that his grandfather had a job in the Scheme collecting up and emptying the spitoons from two or three of the pubs.

“The pub trail will include displays of some of the stories, as well as photos and newspaper cuttings.

“Every single pub that we have spoken to about the project is delighted.”

The business group is preparing to submit a second funding bid for up to £100,000 to boost the project.

Viv’s son Tom, a city councillor for the city’s Yewdale ward, added: “There should be something about the Scheme in the centre of town – it was such a unique thing for Carlisle, and a lot of people don’t even know about it.”

The man known as Blue Lugs – real name Isaac Graham – was a former landlord of the Joiners Arms in Caldewgate, and he ran it while it was under state control.

Explanations for his name vary, from him having large blue-veined ears, to him working at the nearby sawmill, where joiners marked wood with blue crayons, habitually tucked behind their ears whenever not in use.

Anybody with State Management stories or photos or memorabilia should contact Mr Dodd on 07714 896941.

Mr Dodd thanked University of Cumbria students Danny McCormick and Toby Blackman who have taken photos for the project.

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