The best pub in Britain, according to Twitter

On Saturday night, Tony Naylor declared the Old Bridge, Ripponden, ‘arguably Britain’s best pub’:

That prompted us to ask our Twitter followers, slightly mischievously, we must admit, to place their votes for Britain’s best pub.

When the replies started to tumble in, we realised the results might actually be somewhat meaningful, as certain pubs got multiple votes, and the names of cool-sounding pubs we’d never visited popped up.

So, we’ve decided to sort through the answers and turn them into a to-do list.


We discounted pubs that nominated themselves, obviously.

There were a surprising number of votes for Orwell’s the Moon Under Water, or similarly whimsical perfect pubs of the imagination. Lovely stuff but basically a smart-arsed way of copping out of answering.

Where people named multiple pubs, we’ve ignored all but the first one mentioned in their Tweet. That’ll teach ’em.

We noticed one satirical answer – the Wetherspoon in Preston that was controversially named best pub in town last week – but others might have slipped through the net.

The list

First, here’s a list of all the pubs that got more than one nomination – a very decent list, which overlaps with our personal favourites to some degree.

  1. The Great Western, Wolverhampton
  2. The Hope, Carshalton
  3. The Grove, Huddersfield
  4. The Free Trade Inn, Newcastle
  5. The Bell, Aldworth
  6. The Old Ship, Seahouses
  7. The Ship & Mitre, Liverpool

(We really must get to the Hope. This is getting embarrassing.)

Now, here’s the full list.

You might not like every pub suggested but the point is, to someone, somewhere, these pubs were special enough to warrant a response, which means they’re probably at least worth sticking a nose into if you find yourself in the area.

11 replies on “The best pub in Britain, according to Twitter”

The Hanging Bat ???? It’s not even in the top 20 best pubs in Edinburgh. I’m guessing that wasn’t nominated by a local.

Being Manchester based, I can vouch for the Marble Arch, and the Pilcrow. Stockport has at least two fantastic pubs in the Hope Inn and the Old Vic. Great beers in great pubs. The latter is near the station, very handy. I’m in my late 50s but I like to choose between good cask and good keg, all things bright and beautiful. Foot in both camps. I want a partial Brexit too, keep the best bits! We don’t have to be staunchly stuck in one camp, unable to appreciate the quality on both sides. More pubs could survive if they offered old and new, reduce the hand pulls to keep the cask offering rotating quickly, and offer some keg taps. More choice and better quality, attract old and young, and broaden tastes. It’s happening anyway, go with it.

With the caveat of ‘probably not a statistically viable sample’; having been in pubs # 1,3,4 & 6. I can agree that these are all worthy of inclusion on a top whatever list of pubs. The Ship at Seahouses is definitely on my top ten, probably the Great Western too. I’m sure the other pubs are very good too.

Other people will have other ideas, and different isn’t wrong. I use the ‘Pub Pyramid’ to evaluate pubs, something that developed from the ‘Pub Triangle’ devised by Etheridge and Persighetti and which they used in their excellent Public House installation as part of the recent Compass Arts Festival, something I was privileged to have collaborated, developed and been involved in.

Essentially the Pyramid recognises that pubs can be measured through the elements of people, place and beer, and they change with time. A pub that might be on a top ten now may change. What was good may no longer be and vice versa. A pub long demolished could be on a top ten so long as we recognise the limits of time. If the Ship at Seahouses were ever to leave the stewardship of the family who own it, it may well transform into the souless beery desert of the Bamburgh Castle across the road. Other people may disagree with me here, that’s fine by me.

My point being what suits one person doesn’t suit another, and long may that last.

The small number of responses makes this a slightly dubious poll, but I’d have voted for the Great Western anyway (I have never been on Twatter so obviously didn’t see the poll). It also has a reasonably priced Novotel almost round the corner and my last overnight stop in Wolverhampton basically involved just the RAILWAY station, Hotel, Sainsburys and Great Western.

It would make an interesting contrast to ask which pub do people most often visit (home or away?), and in my case ‘home’ would be the local Wetherspoon. I know it’s been fashionable for years to disparage the chain but they must be doing something right given that they sell 10% of the cask beer in the country and I suspect that a number of economically marginal micro breweries might not be viable without their orders. In fact, the local CAMRA pub of the year is just round the corner but the deafening jukebox often drives me out.

The Marble Arch aside, the Manchester nominations are a touch eccentric. I’ve lived in Manchester for 30 years and wouldn’t be able to tell you where the Jolly Angler is, let alone if it’s any good. The Turnpike, currently closed for renovation, is (was?) a keg-only Sam Smith’s pub (which has or had a beautiful interior, admittedly); the Castle used to be a great specimen of multi-room dark-wood city-centre boozerdom, but has been let down in recent years by the closure of the upstairs room and a frankly dull beer range (lots of Robinson’s, no Old Tom).

Consider this a belated – and split – vote for the Smithfield (Manchester) and the Petersgate Tap (Stockport).

Every time I go to Manchester I traipse to the Jolly Angler and stand in front of a locked door because I keep forgetting that they still do afternoon closing. So I have only been there once, sometime in the late 1990s. Hydes beer IIRC.

I didn’t respond to the tweet but would like to add a +1 for the Star & Garter in Bromley – incredible range of cask, keg and bottles, good prices, a very laid back atmosphere and lovely staff! Very lucky to have it as my local.

I’m not a Twitter user (obviously) but surprised The Three Fishes in Shrewsbury has not been nominated.

the front, Falmouth. Every day’s a beer festival! 9 beers on the go and I have never had a mediocre, let alone bad, pint. Hats off to Matt!!

The Bell Inn, Aldworth is West Berkshire CAMRA Pub of the Year 2019. Among beers available are: Old Tyler (a version of West Berkshire Brewery’s Good Old Boy) and a draught mild usually from West Berkshire Brewery (Maggs’ Magnificent Mild) or Indigenous Brewery (based in Chaddleworth, Berkshire). The pub is included in the National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. The (outside, no roof) Gents is referred to as the Planetarium! The village of Aldworth was the first to organise a Concorde charter flight in 1978. There is an article about this on display in the pub. Concorde used to fly over the pub daily as it was on the flight path. Heather Macaulay recalls the ‘Bell Air’ trip in a radio interview –

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