Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Plough Inn, Old Radford, Nottingham

In common with many large towns and cities, you'll be hard pressed to find much in the way of interesting pub games in the centre of Nottingham. The closer to the busy shopping areas of a town you get, the higher the rents, and inevitably space in pubs tends to be devoted to the revenue generating pastimes of vertical drinking and dining. With one or two notable exceptions (which I'll be featuring here at a later date), you have to take a stroll to the fringes of town to find anything like a traditional game, even Darts can be hard to find in the centre.

The Plough at Old Radford is well worth the stroll out of town, not only for the comprehensive selection of pub games, but also the wide range of excellent real ales from the adjacent Nottingham Brewery. Firmly traditional in character, featuring two separate bars served from a central servery, cosy real fires in the Winter (or indeed the wet and windy Summer when I visited), a pub just as it should be.

Perhaps the most interesting game featured at the pub is the long alley skittles in the small garden at the rear. Quite a rarity for Nottingham now, most of these being located further afield in the Notts and Derby area.

For a throw to count in this version of Long Alley Skittles, one foot must remain in this hole when throwing the wooden balls (Woods), which must bounce once before hitting the front King Pin. In this image you can just make out the loose sheet of metal in front of the pins. A throw must also clear this to count, and the loud rattle of the metal is a clear indication of a foul throw. Opinions vary on the positioning of the King Pin, some stating it must be at the front of the diamond pattern, other in the middle. The licensee of the Plough helpfully suggested that 'it all depends...' which I'm taking as the definitive answer. On the right of this image, and below right, can be seen the yellow piping used to return the Woods to the throwing end

The alcove for the Darts Board is also home to the Dictionary & Games Corner, home to a Bagatelle, as well as the Dominoes, Cards and Cribbage Boards for scoring.

A nice modern Shove Ha'penny Board is available on request at the bar, in common with many such boards, now rarely used. A Devil Amongst The Taylors table is also available, though currently awaiting the replacement of a missing pin.

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