The Valiant Soldier was an active pub in Buckfastleigh which closed in the late 1960′s and never re-opened. Everything was literally left as it was and today, it’s now open as a museum, giving visitors a glimpse into the past.
The current building which houses the Valiant Soldier dates from the 1700′s and the earliest mention of it as a pub is in 1813.
It had various landlords through the 19th and early 20th centuries and in 1939 its last landlord, Mark Roberts, became the tenant. In 1965 the brewery withdrew the license and Mr and Mrs Roberts promptly downed tools as the last customers left the premises, leaving everything just as it was. The doors remained closed even after the family purchased the property from the brewery. After Mr Roberts died his wife, Alice carried on living in the upper part of the property until the mid-90′s.
When the family left the area, the pub remained untouched – optics, glasses, furniture, brewery ephemera – even the change in the till!
A huge number of bills, invoices, letters and photographs were left behind giving an insight into the workings of a small mid-20th century town pub.
The Valiant Soldier had always been a family home as well as a pub and its scullery, kitchen, parlour, bedrooms and bathroom evoke its period. Although the Valiant Soldier may never again serve a pint of beer, it still retains the atmosphere life during the early 60′s.
It is probably unique in Britain, a time capsule, having been left in its original working state for more than fifty years. Pubs of this age have generally been gutted and transformed by modernisation or demolished to make way for something new.
The property was put up for sale in the mid-1990′s. However, members of the local community realised that the Valiant was special and with the help of Teignbridge Council acted swiftly in acquiring the premises in 1997.
A trust was formed which set about recording and preserving what it contained, before opening it to the public.
The attic in particular was an Aladdin’s cave of everyday objects and memorabilia. For reasons of safety, one cannot enter the real attic, but a room on the floor below has been rebuilt to replicate it exactly, with all the original contents so that visitors can see the objects that, for the older generation, will bring back fond memories and generate surprise and interest in younger visitors.
The tourist information point, housed next door to the Valiant, contains documents on how the contents were saved and preserved as well as providing a lively presentation on the history of the town.
In addition, computer programs and video presentations as well as old pub games are designed to both amuse and inform visitors of all ages.