Sunday, 6 January 2013

George & Dragon, Belper, Derbyshire

The attractive Derwent Valley market town of Belper is still one of the main centres of Long Alley Skittles play, a game increasingly hard to find in the larger towns of the Derby and Nottingham area, but happily still clinging on in smaller towns and villages. The Derby/Notts version of the game, featuring quite large wooden balls rather than the barrel shaped 'Cheeses' found in Leicestershire, is usually played outdoors, and is therefore predominantly a Summer game. A Winter league does exist, but only pubs and clubs with a covered (and ideally heated!) alley can compete in it.

This alley at the George & Dragon is now lying idle for the Winter, though presumably the existence of an incomplete set of skittles means that casual games on fine days can still be had. The pub is one of the best in the town for real ales, and supports a number of pub teams in local Darts, Dominoes, Pool, and Quiz leagues.

This red concrete foot marker can be found in the car park of the pub, positioned at right angles to the current layout of the alley as seen to the right. It's not in the least bit unusual to find an alley has been rotated from its original position in this way, particularly in the Derby/Notts area where Long Alley is still played for the most part outdoors. In this case the move was probably necessitated by the increased pressure for car parking at the pub. As featured on this blog already, the Queens at Beeston altered the orientation of their alley to facilitate the building of a lean-to covering for the alley, a stipulation for participation in the Winter league.

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