FOR those of an alcoholic leaning there are pub crawls and pub crawls, but few can match Worcester’s seriously mis-named challenge The Cross to Shrub Hill Run. Because a “run” it most certainly was not.

By the end of it, participants were lucky to be standing let alone running and it took the constitution of a sponge to get much beyond the two thirds mark. In fact it was probably a sickly stagger well before that.

The endeavour dates back to the turn of the 19th-20th centuries and involved navigating all 22 licensed premises on the route across the city’s Lowesmoor district from the crossoads at The Cross to the railway station at Shrub Hill.

Apparently if you could sink a pint of beer in each, keep going and reach Shrub Hill upright you were a man. If you could still read the railway timetable, you were a superman. In Victorian/Edwardian street cred it became the ultimate test of manhood.

The pubs to be negotiated were the Hollybush, Packhorse, Dog and Duck, Imperial, Old Yorkshire House, Old Falcon, the Union, Crown and Anchor, Boat Inn, Black Horse, Alma, the Express, Turks Head, the Swan, the Navigation, the Lansdowne, West Midland Arms, Prince of Wales, Railway Arms, Midland Arms, Great Western Vaults and the Ram. Most of which are long gone now.

Lowesmoor was originally named “Loosemoor” because it was an area of badly drained ground to the east of the city centre that became home to many of Worcester’s growing working class.

Narrow streets created a network of terraced and semi-detached properties and as is often the case a lively neighbourhood spirit prevailed.

More than 20 years ago, the originator of this column, the legendary Mike Grundy, interviewed 80-years-old Jim Tunstall, who was Lowesmoor born and bred, and the following is just part of a first hand nostalgic gem.

Jim told Mike: “The houses were separated by narrow passageways and had a back yard and garden. There were just two outside lavatories between four houses and we had to go down six steps and across the yard to them, using a candle to light the way after dark.

"Our house in St Martin’s Street had a cellar where the coal was stored and the cooking done, a living room and four bedrooms. Though times were hard in the 1920s and 30s, life for us as a family was quite good because, luckily, our father was always in work. He was a printer with Ebenezer Baylis.

"He was quite a strict Victorian and we always had to wear aprons for Sunday lunch and only sit at the table and leave it when instructed by him.

"Carts used to deliver apples to Hill Evans massive vinegar works in Lowesmoor and these loads were hoisted by lift into a loft. As kids, we would sometimes pinch the odd apple. Nearby was the large yard of Winwoods, the big removal company. There were stables for shire horses, several drays, and a barn containing a hay rick.”

The lamp-lighter was also a regular feature of life in the area  and Jim had fond memories of the trams that used to pass along Lowesmoor.

Handy for those getting home who had failed to complete The Cross to Shrub Hill Run.