During the war the Oakroom became Betty’s Bar, a popular haunt among servicemen from nearby air bases. Some left a permanent reminder of their visit by inscribing their name onto a mirror which still hangs in the basement café.
No-one is entirely sure how the practice started. One story tells of airmen using a waitress’s engagement ring to scratch their names on the mirror. Another tale recalls a mirror onboard the Queen Mary which featured signatures of famous celebrities, inspiring Frederick Belmont to install a similar mirror in his York Tea Room for the real celebrities of the day, the servicemen using his bar. Whatever the origins of the mirror, the practice quickly caught on.
By the end of the war the mirror featured nearly 600 names. Sadly many of the young men who signed their name never returned from their dangerous missions overseas.
Today several sections of the mirror, which was damaged during an air raid, hang in the downstairs Oakroom as a reminder of all our wartime patrons.
Families of those who served in the war and serviceman who were stationed in the area still visit Bettys to search the names on the mirror.