Sometimes though, it's good to ring the changes and go a little off the beaten track. Perhaps visit pubs which are attractive destinations in ways other than their range of ales. Pubs which are simply pleasant places to sit and drink, soak up the local atmosphere, and maybe enjoy a game with friends or locals.
The Queens is one such pub. Located a short distance from the rail station, a tidy, well run locals pub where games are very prominent throughout. Darts, Pool, and Dominoes are popular of course, but it's the Skittles which set this pub apart. A covered Long Alley can be found at the rear of the pub (one of many in the area, though sadly few are still in use), and a handsome old Devil Amongst The Tailors is kept safe behind the bar, and available for play on request.
The Devil Amongst The Tailors has the remnants of an old Jaques of London label, one of the principal makers of these 'League Brand' tables. The scoring board appears to be Bakelite and marked for 101-up, and is neatly sandwiched between two embossed metal plates, one stating 'Devil Amongst The Tailors, the other carrying the name of the pub. From the appearance of the hinges, and the way the board sits proud of the storage compartment, I guess this would have been a later addition by the licensee or locals at the pub, though it's also possible that Jaques offered this level of customisation as an option on purchase.
The Skittle Alley at the rear of the Queens is a covered one, a stipulation for play in the local Winter League. Originally the alley was played from the rear wall of the pub to where the pins are currently set, but was moved through 90 degrees when the local team constructed the shelter for the alley. The wooden Pins and Balls in this version of Long Alley Skittles are traditionally made from Sycamore. The top-heavy pins have a metal ferrule on the base as an aid to staying upright, particularly useful when the wood become heavily worn with age.