Thursday, 21 March 2013

Engineers Arms, Henlow, Bedfordshire

The Engineers Arms has such a good reputation for its beer and cider that it was judged a finalist in CAMRA's national Pub of the Year awards in 2012. A regular entry in CAMRA's Good Beer Guide, the pub also plays host to annual beer and cider festivals. It's also a friendly, welcoming, and thriving community pub, buzzing with locals when I visited, and if all that were not enough, it's a bit of a treasure trove for the pub games enthusiast.

The games corner at the pub features numerous board games, including the laminate Shove Ha'penny shown above (in need of a serious polish it must be said), Dominoes, and a good Dice set which includes the pub staples of Shut The Box and Crown & Anchor. The licensee also has a much better quality slate Shove Ha'penny which is currently being mounted into a wooden frame ready to install as a fold-down board on a wall of the bar. I believe there may also be an Evesham Quoits (or Dobbers) Board at the pub, though this was not on show when I visited recently.

A recent introduction to the pub, and an increasingly popular game throughout the country, is the Monday Poker In The Pub night. Whatever you think of Poker as a pub game (and given that until relatively recently it has been illegal to play Poker for money in a pub, and so it could hardly be considered 'traditional'), the good thing about the game is that it appeals to such a wide range of people. This includes many of the younger drinkers who have previously not engaged in the more traditional games such as Skittles and Darts (it's notable that the Engineers doesn't appear to have a Darts Board, though it may be that I simply missed it). The red padded table toppers for the game can be seen on the left of the Shove Ha'penny image above.

Perhaps the jewel in the crown of pub games at the Engineers Arms is this play-worn old Skittles Table, of the type found throughout Bedfordshire and beyond. This is a very well used table, mounted on sturdy turned-wood legs, and with what may well be the original leather covering. The table can be found 'outside' the rear bar in the covered patio area. A sensible precaution for a game as noisy as this, and playable throughout the Winter months thanks to the presence of a number of large patio heaters.

League skittles play doesn't extend quite as far as Henlow, but casual games are popular at the pub, including the Friday night bar room favourite of Killer

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