Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Beacon, Loughborough, Leicestershire

Perhaps the tidiest purpose built skittle alley I've so far seen is the one located below the Beacon public house in Loughborough. The Beacon is quite a large, and relatively modern pub, originally built by Nottinghams Home Brewery in perhaps the 60's or 70's. The pub is now owned by Everards Brewery of Leicester, and still serves the social needs of an ever expanding area of housing on the edge of the town centre.

The Beacon is a real 'hub of the community' kind of pub. Family friendly, and supporting many social activities including music, sports, and teams playing in various pub games leagues. In common with most pubs these days, Darts and Pool appear to be the main games played at the Beacon, but there is also a well used Pétanque piste, and perhaps best of all, a very well maintained Leicestershire Skittle Alley.

The alley is clearly contemporary with the original construction of the pub, and gives a good indication of just how important and popular the game would have been in the area at the time. Although this alley is well used for both league games and social functions, the Beacon has one of only two traditional Leicestershire Skittle Alleys that I'm aware of in the town of Loughborough. There would surely have been dozens of similar alleys at one time, and I would be delighted to learn of any more which may have survived in the area.

The fixed metal plate shown here marks the line over which the 'Cheese' must first bounce before hitting the pins. Unlike the Derby/Notts version of Long Alley, where a (often loose) metal sheet is used as both a visual and audible guide to a foul throw, this line is usually marked with a simple line on the floor in Leicestershire alleys. Of course it's entirely possible that since the pub was originally built by the Home Brewery of Nottingham, we are in fact looking at an alley designed in the more northerly fashion. It's also notable that whilst the pins and cheeses are certainly local, the metal grid used to provide a solid base for the pins is more usually seen in the Derby/Notts area where alleys are often located outdoors. There also exists a solitary Beech round ball in amongst the Leicestershire 'Cheeses', a clear indicator that the Derby /Notts version of Long Alley would have once been played at the Beacon.

No comments: