The meat pie that defied Hitler – and gave hope to millions


THE sight of a man wandering the streets of Lewes carrying a giant pie had many residents baffled on Monday.

But Glyn Watkins still managed to get his message across – this was the pie that defied Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

Bradford-based poet and showman Glyn was publicising his forthcoming appearance at The Elephant and Castle, which will celebrate the story behind the pie and J B Priestley’s birthday.

Priestley (1894-1984) was a novelist, playwright and broadcaster. His works include When We Are Married, An Inspector Calls and The Good Companions.

But his finest hour was probably as a broadcaster during the darkest days of the Second World War.

His Sunday evening Postscript talks on the BBC gave hope and courage to millions.

He drew peak audiences of 16 million – only Prime Minister Winston Churchill was more popular with listeners.

One of his best remembered broadcasts was about a Bradford meat and potato pie shop, with a huge steaming example in the window – a pie that survived the Blitz and the intent of pounding Britain into submission.

In September of 1940 Priestley visited his home town of Bradford just after it had been heavily bombed.

He had been told the pie shop had been destroyed but to his joy found the shop, though damaged, was continuing to serve customers and the pie had survived to steam again.

Priestley commented: “Every puff and jet of steam defied Hitler, Goering and the whole gang of them. It was glorious.”

Poet Glyn will perform Pie and Priestley, an event with projected images, readings and performances, at the Lewes venue on Thursday, September 13 (8pm).

Appropriately a meat and potato pie (or vegeterian option) and pea supper will be included in the £12.50 admission fee (two for £20 in advance).

The Elephant and Castle can be contacted on 01273 473797 or visit

Glyn returns there on October 4, National Poetry Day, when he turns the spotlight on Rudyard Kipling.

The fare on offer that night will be curry – a nod to the Sussex writer’s connections with India.

Glyn is the creator of the UK Hat Throwing Championship and is the Bard of the Red Beard at national red-headed festivals.