Thursday 21 August 2014

Booze, blokes and banter

Over the years, on several occasions I’ve mentioned the lively, traditional pub atmosphere that still prevails in many Sam Smith’s pubs, in particular the Boar’s Head on Stockport Market Place, for example here.

It’s interesting that Timbo, posting on the A Swift One blog, has noticed the same thing in the Commercial, Huddersfield:

The Commercial was rammed, I struggled to find somewhere to sit and people watch. It brought my thinking round to the old days. This was how I remember pubs from my youth. Lots of middle aged and older men, sitting around, chewing the fat with their mates and shifting gallons of beer. It was a proper pub. No pretensions, just lots of chat. I could overhear conversations on many and varied topics. Football, Politics, The inefficient local council, and so on. There was background music, but unobtrusive.
Thirty or forty years ago, plenty of pubs were like that, but it’s now very rare outside of the Sam’s estate. Even most of Holt’s pubs seem to have lost it. Obviously Sam’s cheap prices are an attraction, but it’s more than that – a camaraderie develops, and a feeling of being at home. The cosy design encourages people to talk to each other, whereas in Spoons, which are similarly cheap, you often get each table occupied by a solitary bloke with his plastic carrier bag, copy of the Sun or Mirror and pint of John Smith’s.

As you can see from the photo, it’s a very plain, foursquare stone building with a marked lack of external advertising. But it doesn’t need to shout from the rooftops to drum up business, as its loyal regulars are well aware of what they’ll find inside.


  1. and what they will find inside is a soul rotting depravity decent folk ought be protected from.

  2. Martin, Cambridge21 August 2014 at 22:31

    Agree (not with Tim). The Bispham near Blackpool is a particularly lively example of the social melting pot you describe !

  3. You get the same effect in the Marble Arch in Manchester (although it'll cost you a fair bit more for a round). I think it's to do with the shape of the place and arrangement of the furniture, it just seems to encourage conversation. Many's the time my missus and I have been in there and ended up sitting down opposite a couple of complete strangers, asked them what they were drinking, then falling into an hour or two's pleasant conversation. I do love a pub that encourages that sort of thing.

  4. If you like 'banter', you are an idiot

  5. Talking to strangers in a Manchester Pub,rather I would paddle a leaking canoe on the River Styx
    Manchester Centre attracts the
    wackoes ,unwanted in their own
    ghettoes they hover and pester like bluebottles round a freshly
    dumped turd.With so many local towns pubs shut or dead ,life's loners now slither into the nearest city's sump.

  6. There's always the certain frisson that can only be acheived by the possibility of a visit from Humphrey.

  7. Sam's pubs are great - friendly, bustling places with lots of individual character.


Comments, especially on older posts, may require prior approval by the blog owner. See here for details of my comment policy.

Please register an account to comment. Unregistered comments will generally be rejected unless I recognise the author. If you want to comment using an unregistered ID, you will need to tell me something about yourself.