GALLERY: Not Always About the Beer

We spent the last week and a bit flying round the north west of England looking at (a) brewery records and (b) pubs.

Sign: Public Bar, Parlour.

We need­ed din­ner near our hotel in Liv­er­pool and stum­bled upon Thomas Rigby’s, an inter-war pub inte­ri­or where class dis­tinc­tions and wait­er ser­vice were alive and well.

The seal of the Birkenhead Brewery Company Limited.

On our way to Port Sun­light we stopped to won­der at the beau­ti­ful but emp­ty shell of a pub half-swal­lowed by a bland 1980s build­ing.

Exterior of a 1900 pub converted to a Flaming Grill pub-restaurant.

We drank Greene King IPA at the Bridge Inn, a Flam­ing Grill pub-restau­rant at Port Sun­light that was built as a tem­per­ance hotel in 1900.

The inter-war exterior of the Ship & Mitre, Liverpool.

We were drawn to this pub because its exte­ri­or looks just like an image from Basil Oliver’s 1949 book The Renais­sance of the Eng­lish Pub; as luck would have it, it turns out to be one of Liverpool’s beer geek pubs. (The one thing we didn’t research in advance was where had good beer because we didn’t expect to have any time for it.)

Exterior of Flanagan's Apple Irish pub with hen party survivor.

We drank Guin­ness at Flanagan’s Apple which, after months of read­ing about it, felt a bit like a pil­grim­age.

Ashtray tables at Peter Kavanagh's.We hadn’t planned to go to Peter Kavanagh’s but, hav­ing just read about the epony­mous publican’s cus­tom designed ash­tray tables at Liv­er­pool Cen­tral Library, just had to see them in the per­son.

Hotel sign painted on glass of pub inner door.

In Bolton, we vis­it­ed The Hen & Chick­ens, one of the few pubs men­tioned in the Mass Obser­va­tion sur­vey papers that is still trad­ing. Signs for vault on left, hotel on right, said the 1937 doc­u­ments; in 2016 that, at least, hasn’t changed.

Wetherspoons sign: All Ales £1.69.

We need­ed break­fast so killed three birds with one stone with a trip to a Wetherspoon’s in an inter-war mock-tudor improved pub­lic house build­ing. High­ly effi­cient, and didn’t cost much either.

Tatton Arms, half-collapsed, behind security fencing.

We passed the decom­pos­ing corpse of the Tat­ton Arms, with dirty pigeons nest­ing in its gap­ing win­dows, on our way to look at an inter-war pub, now a restau­rant, on a hous­ing estate.

Public bar: stools, bare boards.

The Carl­ton, a list­ed her­itage pub in Chester, has bare boards in the pub­lic bar…

Lounge bar: carpets, leather banquettes.

…and car­pet in the lounge. The land­la­dy told us that peo­ple still respect the dis­tinc­tion – cou­ples dressed up for a night out stick to the best room, solo male drinkers stand and play pool in the pub­lic.

Public bar with tiles and painted walls.

At the Turn­pike in Man­ches­ter, this won­der­ful­ly well-pre­served 1960s inte­ri­or offered a slight vari­a­tion: tiles and paint in the pub­lic…

Lounge bar with carpets and wood panelling.

…but car­pet and wood-pan­elling in the lounge.

There were oth­ers, too, just as inter­est­ing but where we didn’t get a decent pho­to­graph. It was great fun – just the mix of social­is­ing, booz­ing and pon­der­ing that we like – but next time we’re up in that part of the world, it will be all about the beer. There’s only so much 2.8% keg mild even the most nos­tal­gic of beer blog­gers can stom­ach, after all.

12 thoughts on “GALLERY: Not Always About the Beer”

  1. Nev­er been in the Turn­pike, although I must have passed it many times. Note to local CAMRA peo­ple: ‘mild’ and ‘win­ter warmer’ pub crawls aren’t great for Sam’s pubs – although, in fair­ness, it’s hard to see what would be.

  2. I don’t think bare boards/carpet com­bi­na­tions are par­tic­u­lar­ly rare, inci­den­tal­ly – I can think of anoth­er cou­ple off the top of my head.

    1. No rar­i­ty implied! Hav­ing said that, it’s not some­thing we often see down here in Corn­wall these days. The pub we used to drink in in Gold­sith­ney when we first moved down had a prop­er lounge/public dis­tinc­tion – car­pet and cur­tains in the lounge, where the burghers drank; bare boards and euchre in the oth­er room.

    1. Believe it or not there were a few pubs we vis­it­ed where it was the most appeal­ing thing on offer. We are also a bit soft about mild – kind of feel oblig­ed to order it when we see it, regard­less of for­mat.

      1. I used to drink Shep’s mild, back in the ear­ly 80’s, not because I was a huge fan, (although it could be good at times), but because I thought I ought to. The beer was in dan­ger of dis­ap­pear­ing in cask form, and my local CAMRA branch at the time (MMK), thought the best way to ensure the beer’s sur­vival was for mem­bers to drink it.

        Crazy, as I much pre­ferred Shep’s Bit­ter (a good drink back then). The iron­ic thing was the com­pa­ny dropped it any­way; despite our efforts, prov­ing that you can­not arti­fi­cial­ly cre­ate a demand for a fail­ing prod­uct. I’ve nev­er been a fan of CAMRA’s Mild May pro­mo­tion since!

  3. Some very famil­iar sights there! Like Phil, I’ve nev­er been in the Turn­pike despite liv­ing not too far away for 30 years. Sure­ly pub crawls of char­ac­ter­ful, busy pubs with good beer would be ide­al to encom­pass Sam’s.

    As a mat­ter of inter­est, where are the “Wetherspoon’s in an inter-war mock-tudor improved pub­lic house build­ing” and the “inter-war pub, now a restau­rant, on a hous­ing estate”?

    The fate of the Tat­ton is very sad. Dur­ing my time in the area, Northen­den has lost four of the six pubs it once had, although it now has one or two new-style bars.

    1. The spoons was The Gate­way in Dids­bury; the inter-war pub on the estate was the Yew Tree in Wythen­shawe. (Apols if I’ve got geog­ra­phy and/or spelling wrong with either of those.)

      1. Ah yes, the Gate­way is my sec­ond-clos­est Spoons and far more “pub­by” than many oth­ers. I wouldn’t have thought of it as mock-Tudor, although the archi­tec­ture is maybe a bit Jacobean.

        When we start­ed our recent Dids­bury stag­ger at 7.30pm on a Fri­day night it was absolute­ly rammed.

        1. It’s inter­est­ing that it took Spoons to actu­al­ly make the Gate­way work. Look­ing back to the ear­ly 1980s when it was pret­ty much in its orig­i­nal form you do realise how cav­ernous and quite soul­less some of these “improved” 1930s pubs were.

    2. Mudgie – the Turn­pike does fea­ture on a Stag­ger of course (look out for the next one which encom­pass­es it). Some of the inte­ri­or is Sam Smith’s repro but much of what is there is from the orig­i­nal 1960s refit. Appar­ent­ly the only fea­ture it’s lost is a “hang­ing gar­den” of plas­tic flow­ers in one cor­ner of the lounge although it’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine what that would look like now if it had sur­vived the pas­sage of 50-plus years.

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