Tributes to 'legendary' Heathfield and Waldron pub landlord

'Larger-than-life' landlord Conrad (Con) Lefort died on January 8 at the age of 92.

Con and Iris
Con and Iris

Born in East Ham, London on June 4, 1929, Conrad’s last spell behind the bar was at The Star, Waldron, now run by his son. Paul. Before that he’d established himself as perhaps the best-known publican in Heathfield.

Paul said: “Although he was supposed to have left the business he used to keep popping in saying ‘Anything I can do?”

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Con grew up and was educated in Leytonstone. He left school at 14 and worked as a shipping company clerk in the West End before call-up to the RAF where he served in India and Hong Kong.

Paul described his mum and dad as ‘childhood sweethearts’ who met at school. He married on March 31, 1951 at the age of 22.

“Mum’s family were in the licensed trade” Paul said, “so dad learnt the business from top to bottom.”

Heathfield came onto the horizon when both families took over what was then The Crown (later The Beehive) at the top of the High Street in 1966.

Paul was proud to explain: “They built it up until it became the busiest and best-loved pub for miles around. Everyone across this part of the county knew Con. He was a legendary landlord in the days when running a pub was a 24-7 business. It still is!”

While running The Crown, Con was a very active member of the Licenced Victuallers Association which raised money for national and local charities. He was also President of Heathfield United which played on a pitch at the rear of the Crown.

Eventually Con, Iris and their son Paul took over the picturesque Star in Waldron running the business as a family. They took it from strength to strength. Iris died in 2014.

Con was a larger-than-life character, drove an immaculate vintage Mercedes and could not head through the town without being stopped by customers who recognised him. Paul explained: “Mum and dad would spend some winter months in the Canary islands. He had two parties for his 90th birthday and was really well, only becoming more frail during his last seven months when he was cared for at Millcroft in Horam.”

His funeral is at All Saint’s, Waldron at noon on Wednesday, February 9. All are welcome.