Hessle Road clubland legend and belated LGBT icon Ruth Naylor dies

Ruth Naylor (Image: Hull Daily Mail) Hull clubland legend Ruth Naylor has died after a long illness.

Her singing career which spanned four decades started by accident in the mid-1970s while she was working in a fish factory off Hessle Road .

In a 2017 Hull Live interview, she recalled: "I was always singing Tammy Wynette songs and one of the girls at the fish house said I should give it a go.

"I started as a compere at the Rampant Horse and it just went from there. I still worked in the fish house and sang at night."

Ruth and guitarist Dennis Hunter were later joined by drummer Hilary Morgan, performing as Ruth and the Rudens.

Over the years they not only entertained generations of pub and clubgoers with mainly country and western songs but also raised thousands of pounds for various local charities through fundraising shows. Ruth and guitarist Dennis Hunter pictured in 1974 (Image: Hull Daily Mail) "Back then, people literally queued up to get into a pub or club when we were on," said Ruth.

"We played seven days a week, once we even had eight bookings in seven days.

"During the day we all worked. I was driving vans, delivering cars and vans all over the place.

"Once I remember playing the Red Lion and then jumping straight in my wagon for a run to Yarmouth. That’s just how it was."

Ruth also recorded two EPs, one of them produced by her old friend, the late Joe Longthorne .

As a lesbian, she recalled having to deal with plenty of "stick" during her time playing in pubs and clubs of the 1970s and 1980s. Ruth Naylor at home with partner Margaret in 2017 (Image: Hull Daily Mail) "Most of the time I was accepted for who I was – a singer in a band," she said.

"There was a lot of respect, especially from older people who were just there to enjoy the music but I did get some stick from time to time.

"Once in the Railway Club in Anlaby Road I’d spent the night singing before the compere got up and said to me: ‘Make sure you go into the ladies’ toilet and not the mens’.

"Another time, I was packing away our gear and some lads came up and started mumbling between themselves: ‘Is she?, she isn’t, is she?’ that sort of thing.

"I just said: ‘Yes I am now mind your own business’. That soon shut them up.

"I even had one lad get up on stage at the Blacksmiths Arms trying to have a go at me.

"I think he was just trying to impress his mates. I just kept thinking they are paying my wages."

Along with her long-term partner Margaret, Ruth eventually turned to running pubs in Hull.

After stints at the Steam Tavern in Anlaby Road and the The Rose in Beverley Road , they bought the Albion in Caroline Street.

In 2016 they sold the Albion when Ruth fell ill with emphysema.

She said: "Everyone smoked in the places we played and so did I. It’s not nice but you just learn to live with it."

During Hull’s year as the UK City of Culture year she was one of only four people from Hull featured in a parade called 50 Queers for 50 Years marking the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality. The banner featuring Ruth and her guitarist Dennis Hunter which was part of a City of Culture parade (Image: Hull Daily Mail) A banner featuring an image of her and guitarist Dennis Hunter from their Ruth and the Rudens heyday was carried through the city centre even though she knew nothing about it at the time.

Speaking afterwards, she said: "I’m still in shock about it, to be honest. "I’m overjoyed at the recognition. I only wish I’d known beforehand so I could have been there to see it." Follow Hull Live

Our daily newsletter – To get the latest headlines direct to your email inbox every day, click here .

Download our app – You can download our free app for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store , or get the Android version from Google Play .

Follow Hull Live on Facebook – Like our Facebook page to get the latest news in your feed and join in the lively discussions in the comments. Click here to give it a like!

Follow us on Twitter – For breaking news and the latest stories, click here to follow Hull Live on Twitter.

Follow us on Instagram – On the Hull Live Instagram page we share gorgeous pictures of our stunning city – and if you tag us in your posts, we could repost your picture on our page! We also put the latest news in our Instagram Stories. William Booth House Click here to follow Hull Live on Instagram .