Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Crown Inn, Melton Mowbray

The cosy bar of the Crown Inn. Darts is played in the local Melton Mowbray League.
The unique Leicestershire version of Long Alley Skittles, in common with many traditional pub games, has experienced something of a slow decline in recent years. A dedicated skittle alley is for many pubs an unnecessary luxury, taking up valuable dining, drinking, or even car parking space. Having said that, there are still a surprising number of alleys still in regular use, and even a handful of leagues operating throughout the county. Where alleys do still exist, the game can be very popular. In fact Long Alley Skittles has for many years been a favourite choice for business social evenings and team building events, and even in the current climate of zero-tolerance to alcohol in the work place, it's pleasing to see that this is still the case today.

One of the easiest ways to find an alley for a casual game, is to use the pub search facility on the Everards Brewery website (http://www.everards.co.uk/pubs/), since a good few of the surviving alleys are located at Everards pubs. The Syston & District Skittles League website is also worth a look (http://www.syston-skittle-league.fsnet.co.uk/).

The Crown in the busy market town of Melton Mowbray, is an Everards pub with a well used skittle alley. It's slightly unusual in that the alley is a relatively new addition to the facilities at the pub, making good use of an unused store room at the rear of the building. The use of Straw and sacking at the business end of the alley is a reminder of the humble origins of the game, where rough and ready alleys would have been set up in outhouses and barns as an inexpensive game for the locals. The enterprising licensee at the Crown seems to be making a great success of the new alley, with a team playing in the Melton & District Ladies Skittles League (who arrive with their own match day pins and balls for the serious business of league play), as well as being popular with social groups and local businesses.

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