Months later than its companion pieces here are the highlights from Surrey Pubs by Richard Keeble, published in 1965.
This is weird: we thought we’d written about all of these Batsford guides but it turns out that, though we annotated the book with 800 Post It notes, and even wrote most of the post, we never actually published it. Perhaps Sussex Pubs confused us. Anyway, better late than never…
Beer from the Wood – Several pubs are mentioned as serving beer from the wood, such as The Whyte Harte and Bletchingley, Ye Olde Six Bells at Horley, the Jolly Farmer at Horne and the Swan at Thames Ditton, which had the best of all: Bass from the wood.
Drummond Arms, Albury – Proto-craft-beer-bar: ‘There is a choice of forty-seven different bottled beers and there are some outstanding wines on the list.’ The draught beer list included Friary Meux ‘Treble Gold’, a pale ale that perhaps bolsters the argument for ‘golden ale’ having existed as a vague idea long before Exmoor and Hop Back crystallised and marketed the concept.
Plough Inn, Bletchingley – ‘The landlord here… is a qualified optician… [Ask him] to show your how to play “shutterbox”, a game he brought to this district.’ (Shut the Box?)
Red Lion, Bletchingley – ‘Their “chicken in the rough” is very popular – a leg or wing of chicken, crisp lettuce and tomato in an aluminium dish for 4s. 6d.’
Spotted Cow, Strood Green, Brockham – Crap theme pub alert! ‘A brand-new pub… The front of the bar counter in the saloon is decorated with genuine cow hide of Friesians, and similar hide is on the public bar floor.’ And a bizarre pub sign: ‘One one side is the American eagle and the Russian bear showing definite signs of frustration at the fact that it was the English cow which first jumped over the moon.’ And one final oddity offered without further explanation: ‘He is probably the only landlord who writes the dates when he cleans the beer pipes in Arabic on the side of them.’ This is James Bond in retirement, right?
Dog and Pheasant, Brook – ‘Above the bar are these well-chosen words: “Please do not sit at the bar, let the dog see the pheasant.”’ Sadly, bar-blocking is still an issue 50 years on.
Cricketers, Carshalton – Had a pinball table and jukebox for the teenagers.
Onslow Arms, Clandon – ‘[The Fourth Earl of Onslow] used to get somewhat cross with the “drunken louts” going noisily past his library, so he bought two pubs… He closed down the other and developed the Onslow to his liking.’ We’d like to know more about this.
Plough Inn, Coldharbour – Novelty toilet designations! ‘There is a ladies’ powder room and a gentlemen’s gun-room instead of the one much over-used word “gents”.’
White Hart, Dorking – ‘This is a pub without a cellar. The beer is stored in natural sandstone caves, so the draught beer is always cool and is pulled a long way through stainless steel pipes to get into your glass.’ The CAMRA WhatPub website informs us this is still the case.
Plough, Dormansland – ‘As the Plough has been owned by four different brewers – through mergers – in eight years, there is a good choice of bottled beers.’ The first time we’ve come across the claim that brewery mergers increased choice.
Wheatsheaf, Ellens Green – Served ‘chicken portions… in “Henry VIII style”… from local chicken which until their sudden demises had run on open ranges’. Free range chicken in 1965! More evidence that everything started a bit earlier than you think it did, except Ancient Traditions, most of which were invented by marketing men in 1972.
Spring Hotel, Ewell – ‘As well as its excellent bitter, this house is well known for its large selection of wines by the glass… This is one of the few pubs that serves fresh fruit at its snack bar as matter of course. You can help yourself to as much as you can eat for 2s. 6d.’ The bitter was by Charrington and the author has kind words to say about their beer in a couple of places.
Hare and Hounds, Godstone – ‘The landlord used to be an undertaker… He is often to be seen in a butcher’s striped apron, wearing which he cooks succulent grills… Above the grill-bar is a sign “Any complaints?” but as it is written on the butt of a shotgun, it is doubtful anyone has the courage!’ Yikes!
Jolly Farmer, Guildford – Spud-u-Like: ‘One of the specialities is stuffed baked potatoes which are available with such fillings as peanut butter and chopped ham, chopped cooked mushrooms, cream cheese and chopped onion, and others.’ Whoah, whoah, whoach — peanut butter? In a jacket potato? Dirty bastards.
Running Horse, Leatherhead – ‘Sandwiches include Canadian cheese soaked in ale’. Beery cheese. Yes.
Mint Arms, Lower Kingswood – ‘If a mild game of golf is what is wanted, then it can be found here, for the pub has its own nine-hole putting green.’
Black Swan, Ockham – ‘Several scenes in comedy films have been made here because of its appearance of being a typical country pub… Shepperton Studios is not far away so it gets is fair share of film people as customers.’
Cricketer’s Arms, Ockley – ‘Bass, Whitbread Tankard, Simonds’ mild, Fremlin’s light mild… As well as the excellent draught beers, there is also redcurrant wine out of the keg…’
Prince Albert, Redhill – Had a cocktail bar for children in the garden: ‘the youthful drinker can order… such exotic fruit-juice cocktails as a “Dan Dare”’. (Dan Dare.)
Jolly Farmer, Runfold – Dangerous non-conformism: they called bread, cheese, salad and pickle ‘The Farmer’s Lunch’.
Donkey, Tilford – ‘This is an absolute paradise for children. As well as a playground containing a chute, swing and roundabout, there are a donkey, monkey, squirrels, a mynah bird and many foreign birds… The present donkey drinks a pint of beer in the bar…’ Nowadays you’re not allowed to keep donkeys in pubs and make them drink beer — political correctness and health and safety gone mad or something.
Chequers, Walton-on-the Hill – ‘If you are a beer-drinker, you should try Young’s Special Bitter which is much to be recommended.’ The connoisseur’s choice.
Ye Olde Whyte Lion, Warlingham – ‘The locals claim that this fifteenth-century pub has the best bitter in Surrey. The landlord if a little more modest but agrees it is a very fine bitter, probably because of the ancient cellars in which it is kept and the fact that a great deal of it is sold…’
Hand in Hand, Wimbledon Common – ‘The landlord calculated that he had served four tons of cheese in one year just before the war. He hasn’t kept count since…’ Cheese pub!
Star Hotel, Woking – ‘In the saloon lounge there is a pictorial juke-box. A different film is shown with each record played…’