Mourning St Albans publican

ST ALBANS: Former publican of 40 years, Brian McKeon, has died aged 79 after a brief battle with cancer.

He was probably best known as the landlord of The Baton in Marshalswick which he ran from 1972 to 1990. He also ran The Six Bells in St Michael’s, St Albans Hockey Club and St Albans Conservative Club where he still pulled a pint until last year.

Friends remember a man who epitomised the pub landlord of a bygone era – always ready to discuss the current latest events or lend an ear.

He was known for his intellect and love of words with some of his friends nicknaming him Brain as he stood at the end of the bar working his way through the Daily Telegraph cryptic crossword before the lunchtime rush started.

Eventually he abandoned the crossword as he said it was too easy but was a valued player in trivial teams and competed on Channel Four’s daily words and numbers game Countdown where he was reigning champion for five matches in 2003 and made it through to the quarter finals.

Brian was born in Dublin in January 1932, one of 10 children, and came to England in 1937. He later served with the RAF at the age of 18 before joining the pub trade.

His love of flying never left him and he travelled on holidays to Florida and Hawaii to meet up with his siblings, most of whom had settled in Toronto, Canada.

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In addition, he flew on Concorde – a farewell gift from The Baton regulars.

Brian leaves a partner Mary, son Alan, daughter Caron and two grandchildren.