A PUB with period features sounds like an ideal workplace but it’s a bit of a headache when you’re 6ft 9in tall.
Lofty landlord Mark Davey has lost count of the number of times he has taken a knock to the head after bumping into beams and low ceilings at Lewin’s Ale House in Halifax town centre.
Mr Davey, probably Yorkshire’s tallest pub landlord, has been in the job a little over a week but already has more than his fair share of cuts and bruises.
The pub, which dates back to 1769 and is listed, has low beams and a cellar ceiling so low that he practically has to crawl around to change the beer pumps.
But he is taking it all in his enormous stride because he has been working in old pubs for many years. Now 35, he has been 6ft 9in since he was 16.
Wisecracking customers have already started the height jokes but he’s heard them all before, many times over.
“People look up at me and ask my height about 70 times a day,” he laughed yesterday, standing alongside his much shorter colleagues.
“I have lost count of the number of times I have banged my head. I’m a bit clumsy as well but I am now learning where the beams are.”
He’s finding cellar work a real tall order.
“Cellar work is a hands and knees job. Sometimes I think I should get a skateboard to move around on. I already have a stool to sit on, which saves my back.
“The beams are the worst because when someone says something and I turn my head to listen, I sometimes forget to look where I am going and bump straight into a beam.
“There is a bit of a comedy factor to it and it’s certainly a talking point.”
His height is also causing a few problems for his colleagues too, particularly when there are four staff behind small bar, which is about 15ft long.
Lewin’s chef Andy Jamieson, 29, who is 5ft 9in, has worked with Mr Davey for some time but says, “it’s tricky working with a giant”.
It’s clear that both men have a sense of humour and they need it in their business.
“He has a very dry sense of humour and is thick-skinned,” says Mr Jamieson, “so he is the right candidate for this type of work.”
Both are already well versed in the West Riding sense of humour, having worked in Keighley at the Royal Oak.
“People in Halifax have already commented on his height – we have had ‘Chuffin’ 'ell, how tall’s he? and ‘Bloody 'ell, he’s big,” said Mr Jamieson, who hails from Wakefield.
Mr Davey often has the last laugh, particularly with shorter colleagues.
If anyone steps out of line they may find that the top of their head is suddenly being used as an arm rest and look up to see their boss’s nonchalant smile.
At a previous pub Mr Davey was given the nickname High Tower, after a tall character in the Police Academy films.
It’s all water off a duck’s back for Mr Davey, who is from tough stock. His father, who is 6ft 5in tall, is a retired regimental sergeant major with the Welsh Dragoon Guards.
Yesterday the bar staff were sharing a joke and comparing heights.
Mr Davey will be working alongside three women bar staff; Helen Cook, whose height was given as 4ft 11in; Sophie Davenport, whose is around 5ft; and Ellis Hansborough, who is 5ft 3in.
Occasionally the women have to put up with an arm on their head, but it’s all done in jest.
“The funniest thing is how often he bangs his head,” says Mr Jamieson. “The worst thing is being used as an armrest. He uses everyone as a leaning post.”