The Hill Park Inn has stood on the top of Greenbank since the mid-19th century, next to the fire station and the Lidl. It shut permanently in 2011 and was turned into flats in 2013. Ang and Mike took it over in 1994 and famously were the first pub to put on Sharp's new Doom Bar on permanently! In 2002, they left to take over the Fawn Social Club down the road.
Here is some more information found on the Plymouth CAMRA website:
Hill Park Hotel, 32 Hill Park Crescent, Greenbank PL4 8JP
Mid 19th century Greenbank was exactly that – lush green fields close to a hill – but one of the first terraces built was Hill Park Crescent. The old Greenbank Prison – later used as a police station and by the health service – was built by 1849, just around the corner. There is some thought that the Governor may well have lived here for some time – note the watch tower at the very top of the building.
Our book “Moor To Sea – Devon Real Ale Guide” described the Hill Park as a “large, two-bar estate pub with occasional weekend disco.” Back in 1992, they served three real ales – Courage Best and Directors, and Wadworth 6X. By 1994, with new licensees and new ideas, the Hill Park was the first pub in Plymouth to serve Sharp’s Doom Bar permanently, just after Sharp’s had started out. They stayed here for 8 or 9 years, building a good reputation for their real ale.
Sadly, after a number of changes in licensees, the pub was closed in 2011 and converted into student flats in 2013.
Many years ago, me and my cousin drifted into the Hill Park Tavern for a pint and a game of pool. There was a guy in there who was playing stereotype Westcountry songs and had a board out in front of him. What he had decided to do was to have an evening of pig racing.
The concept was this. He had eight toy pigs and a tub full of batteries. Some of the batteries were almost dead while some were new. He would mix up the batteries and put them in the pigs while his mate took bets on which pigs would win. He made a real spectacle of it and got the whole pub going. Honestly it was hilarious.
The Pig Racing is part of Ady Byng’s Game Show Road Show. He takes his show all around Devon and is regularly booked for charity nights. Photo of Ady Bing and video of the pig racing in the Hill Park Inn in 2008.
Favourite Drink: Guinness
Ron Ellis, in the nineties, used to organise the Dockyard Surveyors Xmas Bash at the Hill Park, great food, always a friendly atmosphere. Steve and Maria ran a good ship, I remember them from the Bull and Bush a few years before. Happy Days.
New Year's Eve
Anyone who joined the cast of the Hill Park for New Year will remember with affection the celebrations at midnight. Invariably, everyone would pile out of the door in to the road and, for a few minutes at least, stop the traffic to sing Auld Lang Syne and let off party poppers. What made it even better was the support of the Fire Service over the road who’d bring the engines out on to the street and let off the sirens to celebrate the New Year………there were lots of hugs and kisses….and quite a few of us were ‘late on parade’ in rejoining the party. Celebrating the year 2000 was particularly memorable…we had our own fireworks display and who better to let the off than the experts !
It’s odd but, since the Hill Park closed, I don’t think we’ve been out on New Year’s Eve……not even to the Fawn. No firemen to play with I guess!
Picture by Gary Chapman, taken in 2000.
Chimmers the Cat
Dai and I started seeing each other in September 1989. We’d known each other since 1983 so I was a bit surprised when he seemed really worried about introducing me to his drinking buddies at the Hill Park. Run then by Carol and Danny, I (and he) needn’t have worried. Friday nights at the Hill soon became our regular Saturday afternoon and/or Sunday lunchtime (more to come on that !).
There was one ‘regular’ in purrrr….ticular who soon became an active member of the home pub quiz team and any other team he fancied….opposable thumbs allowing. Chimney, or Chimmers, was a huge, fluffy ginger cat who would take up most of the window seat in the lounge bar or, if you were already sitting there, most of your lap. He’d fly over the bar and in to the lounge as soon as he realized the pub was open and was very keen to say ‘Hi’ to anyone new…..whether you liked cats or not. Very affectionate and clever, he’d play along although I don’t recall him ever getting a question right ! Moving him when it was time to go home was always fun…..he didn’t like moving once he was settled and warm ! I nearly slept in the Lounge on a number of occasions.
When Danny and Carol moved on they took Chimmers with them and he lived for quite a few more years…no doubt recalling his time as the Landlord’s cat and claiming credit for the pub quiz wins he influenced.
Favourite pint on Greenbank: A Doom Bar at the Clifton
I remember sitting in the 'beer garden' of The Hill Park or 'Hilly' and a man called Kev was drawing this. I loved it right away and pestered him for ages until he sold it to me. It takes pride of place in my hall. The Hilly beer garden was small but a proper sun trap and very popular. I also have the sign from the side of the pub in my back garden, I took it out of a builder's skip. After working and drinking in this pub for years I miss it so much.
Pictures by Joanna Stephens