Tributes pour in following respected Welwyn landlord’s death

PUBLISHED: 16:18 11 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:21 12 December 2017

Fred Cox with his shire horses. Picture: Supplied.

Fred Cox with his shire horses. Picture: Supplied.

Austin Cox

Tributes have poured in for a respected Welwyn pub landlord who was “the last of an era”.

Fred Cox. Picture: Supplied. Fred Cox. Picture: Supplied.

Fred Cox, former landlord of the White Hart, died peacefully on Friday, December 1, at 82 years old.

In 2013 Fred suffered a bad stroke, a few months after his wife Maureen died, causing him to lose the feelings in his left side.

The pair married in 1963 and had two children, twin boys called Austen and Spencer.

From 1953 to 1955 Fred was a Grenadier Guard until he joined the Metropolitan Police in 1955 and remained a police officer until 1962.

After 12 years of fighting crime, the grandfather-of-one became the landlord of the well-known pub, The Nag’s Head, in Covent Garden.

On May 13, 1966, Fred and Maureen took over the White Hart until they retired in September 2004 and moved to their holiday home in Norfolk.

Fred’s son Austen Cox, 50, of Welwyn Garden City, said: “My dad was well respected and liked by many.

“He put his soul into the pub as landlords did back then, he cared about it so much.

“The customers knew him as well as I did.

“My mum and dad were amazing grandparents, they doted on my daughter Emily.”

Fred and Austen shared a love for rugby and both played for Welwyn Rugby Club.

Austen added: “He would come and watch my games and was so supportive.

“After the game we would have a pint.

“His biggest hobby was his shire horses and everyone who knew him knows how much he loved them.”

As well as being a respected pub landlord Fred was also renowned for his rendition of ‘The Alphabet Song’ - the rugby version - and sang it at the end of Austen’s wedding.

Councillor Terry Mitchinson, 61, of Welwyn, said: “He was the last of an era.

“Everyone will remember him for being a proper pub landlord.

“He had a colourful character, was so fun to be around and a loyal following of people who came to the pub - it was always rammed.

“If you were a mate of his he would really look after you.

“You don’t get people like Fred anymore.”

Terry added: “It was a sad day when he retired but it’s an even sadder day now, but he has left a legacy for those who knew him.”

Terry and his wife Carol adored the pub and its atmosphere so much that it influenced the pair to move to Welwyn village.

During the week Fred and Maureen ran a silver service restaurant in the pub, the food was “renowned” in the area according to Terry.

Mark Elliott, president of Welwyn Rugby Club, paid tribute to Fred who opened his eyes to rugby and played by his side during his first season.

Mark said: “Whilst we all knew that Fred’s health was failing, it still came as a great shock when he passed away.

“Fred’s brash public persona hid his true character.

“He was a very kind and gentle person who would do anything for anyone.

“We will all miss him hugely and send our sincere condolences to his sons, Austen and Spencer.”

A memory that was cherished by many rugby boys and customers was Fred’s annual Pram Race.

This consisted of grown men dressed as mother and baby, sprinting around the village with prams of dubious quality, stopping to down a beer at each of the six pubs en route.

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