Friday, 23 December 2011

Strangers in tonight

Last night we had a very enjoyable evening in the Davenport Arms at Woodford to present licensee Yvonne Hallworth with a certificate commemorating 25 consecutive years in the Good Beer Guide. This is a classic pub, bursting with character and, while it has been altered a little over the years, still has a cosy tap-room and snug at the front, all warmed by real fires which, on a fairly mild evening, produced a roasting atmosphere. Robinson’s Hatters Mild, Unicorn, Mr Scrooge and Old Tom were all on excellent form.

However, amongst some people, this pub seems to have got a reputation for being “cliquey”. It was described by one person as “ very much a locals' local in the style of "American Werewolf in London"'s Slaughtered Lamb: odd looks from (most likely) regulars, and the like.” Well, yes, it does have a strong band of regular customers, and isn’t that really a sign of a good pub? And, given its location between Bramhall and Wilmslow, most of them tend to come from the comfortable middle classes.

I must declare an interest as I have been going in there throughout those twenty-five years, and before, delivering the local CAMRA magazine, and have had many stimulating conversations both with Yvonne and her late father John who was the licensee before her. Every pub has its own character, and I can understand why this one may not be to everyone’s taste, but I can honestly say I have never experienced that exclusiveness of which some complain. And, in reality, especially in the tap-room, it’s a lot more down-to-earth than some seem to think.

Do these moaners simply have a problem with any pub having regular customers? Another excellent Stockport pub sometimes unjustly tarred with the same brush – and which undeniably has a mostly middle-class clientele – is my local, the Nursery in Heaton Norris.

4 comments:

  1. Are the 'middle classes' using this pub different to the 'liberal middle classes' who are snobbish about craft beer, I wonder..?

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  2. Oh, I think Woodford is a long way from Camden both geographically and culturally.

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  3. I know both pubs-the Nursery particularly well and can but agree with you. I suppose some people will look for fault even in the most excellent of pubs.

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  4. I remember the first time I stepped foot in my local pub, The Anglers Rest in Wombwell. I was out with a fellow group of 'under-agers' and we knew it was a 'regulars' type pub.

    We had been served in the more central pubs and were served quite easily so we thought we'd try The Anglers. As we walked in everyone stopped what they were doing and stared at us! Needless to say, we felt quite intimidated so we made a hasty retreat - backwards!!

    18 years later, as a seasoned drinker, I decided to give The Anglers a try again - the same thing happened, everyone stopped in their tracks and looked at me. However, being more comfortable as a person, I appraoched the bar and asked for a pint. The landlady served me and I sat down with my pint.

    As the night progressed, I earwigged to the conversations going on and made a mental note of people's names and by the end of the night I was joining in.

    That was 2 years ago and now I'm almost accepted as a regular, the majority of customers know me and my wife, and it is the pub I choose over all the other local pubs.

    More pubs should be like these, they are well worth the initial effort :)


    Russell

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