Tributes paid to Leamington’s legendary landlord

Hector Ashwood.
Hector Ashwood.

Tributes have been paid to Leamington’s first West Indian pub landlord who was loved by the community.

Hector Ashwood, who was landlord of the Talbot Inn, known as ‘Hector’s House’, died on Friday April 13, aged 85.

The Talbot Inn, which was known as Hector's House.

The Talbot Inn, which was known as Hector's House.

He was the first West Indian landlord in Leamington, and was also behind the town’s Jamaican Independence Day festival.

Hector was a great character of the town and tributes have been flooding in on social media, where he is remembered by many as ‘a Leamington legend and a true gentleman who brought fun to people’s lives’.

His daughter Rita Church told The Courier: “Dad was very much loved and we are tremendously proud of all his achievements. It has been very moving to know dad was so very loved by so many in the local community.

“There has been some absolutely wonderful things said about dad and it is very touching. We would like to thank everyone who has made a comment on Facebook and anywhere else. It is very touching and lovely to know dad was so very loved.

Hector Ashwood behind the bar at The Talbot Inn.

Hector Ashwood behind the bar at The Talbot Inn.

“He is loved and missed by all of our family.”

Hector was born in St Thomas in Jamaica on April 7 1933 to Violet and Cyril Ashwood. He was one of eight children and was the second oldest child.

He came over to Leamington in 1961 when he was in his late 20s. Hector was one of the many people who travelled from Caribbean countries to the UK between 1948 and 1971, who were labelled the Windrush generation.

Hector first met his wife Barbara in Leamington in 1966. Barbara was visiting her sister in the town and they met because Hector was a friend of Barbara’s sister’s husband.

Barbara and Hector Ashwood

Barbara and Hector Ashwood

Hector and Barbara lived together for years and got married on February 2, 2003. They were together for 52 years.

The couple went on to have two children, Rita and Anita. Hector also had two children from his previous marriage; Esmie and Angela.

Hector also had two grandson, Lewis, who is Angela’s son and Sam, who is Rita son.

A former Jamaican Iron and Copper worker, Hector worked at British Rail and then went on to work at Ford before noticing a gap in the market and took on the tenancy of the Talbot Inn in Rushmore Street.

He continued to work at Ford for three years after taking on the pub with Barbara and then went on to buy the pub.

Hector and Barbara ran the pub for 30 years, which also became the venue for the annual Jamaican Independence Day festival.

The couple retired from the business in 2007.

Rita added: “Family played a huge part in dad’s life. He would have done anything for his grandchildren.

“Mum and dad were together for 52 years and they had lived together all that time.

“Before they got married dad used to joke that he needed time to get to know my mum, playing on the laid back culture of Jamaica.

“My dad achieved a lot. Coming from having virtually nothing to making quite an impression.

“He was the first Jamaican landlord in the town and I am proud to look back to see his achievements.

“Dad was also approached by TV producers about using the pub in the filming of BBC’s The Locksmith. He also did some cameo rolls.”

Hector was member of the Race Relations Committee and he was also a member of the West Indian Senior Endeavours group.

Rita added: “My dad died surrounded by his family, which is what he wanted.

“We received a tremendous amount of support from dad’s GPs at Waterside Medical Centre, from Myton Hospices at home and from the Marie Curie nurses.

“If people would wish to come to pay their respects and say goodbye they can. Dad would have wanted that.”

Hector’s funeral will be taking place on Monday April 30 at All Saints’ Church, Leamington at 9.30am.

The wake will be held at The Hilton Hotel in Warwick. All are welcome to ‘toast’ Hector.

It will be family flowers only at the funeral but donations are welcome for Myton Hospices and Marie Curie.

There will also be a condolences book at the church and at the wake for people to share their memories of Hector.