'Too good for London', Sir Paul Stephenson will find a welcome at the Kettledrum's bar

Lancashire gave him to London and Lancashire will take him back.

In the village of Mereclough, near Burnley, they expect to see Sir Paul Stephenson back soon at the bar of the Kettledrum Inn.

In London, during his time as one of the shortest-serving commissioners of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Paul made no secret of his affection for"t' Drum", a pub in the Pennine country high above Burnley. He would often insist to colleagues and friends that he remained a "country boy" at heart, and would travel back there at weekends. As Chief Constable of Lancashire until 2005, he could look across the Cliviger Gorge from Lea Croft – his old home in the village, where he and his wife Lynda lived with their three daughters – as far as Deerplay and the hills above Bacup, the slipper-making town where he was born the son of a butcher in 1953.

Mereclough's two pubs have battled it out for 150 years and currently Sir Paul's favourite, the Kettledrum, has triumphed over the nearby Fighting Cocks, which has just failed as an Indian restaurant.

"I expect we'll see him back here soon," said an old neighbour, Ray Askew, a retired lorry driver and former steeplejack who lost his foot when a gable end fell down on him. "Some might say he was too good for London."

Mr Askew added: "He used to walk his Labrador past here most Saturday mornings. He was a Kettledrum man."

The Kettledrum is named after the 1861 Epsom Derby winner that made a fortune at 16-1 for Colonel Charles Towneley and paid for the building of the small but elegant St Huberts Church at Dunsop Bridge, where the family had a stud farm. The lucky horse, bought in Darlington for 400 guineas, won him £2,000 in bets and £6,000 in prize money.

Natalie Hutchinson, the licensee of the Kettledrum, looked at Sir Paul's front page newspaper picture as she pulled a pint of bitter.

"I know him. I'm glad he likes it round here," she said. "Of course I wouldn't talk politics with him.

"Stan Ternent, the former manager of Burnley FC and Bury FC, comes in here too, but folk don't bother him about football when he's in here, you know. This is Mereclough."

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