Tuesday, 18 June 2013
The Beacon, Aspley, Nottingham
Located a few miles out from the centre of Nottingham, in what might rather fancifully be considered the 'Long Alley Skittles Zone', the Beacon is a fairly typical suburban community pub with a strong gaming element. With one or two notable exceptions, you generally have to travel this far out of town to find the traditions of pub game play still being observed. This is certainly true for league play, and even in the suburbs the Nottingham skittles tradition is becoming much harder to find.
Afternoon Skittles matches are played at the Beacon in the Arnold Sunday Skittles League, with league matches also played on Monday evenings. The alley is a fine indoor one located at the rear of the pub, it's quality and overall size giving a good indication of how important the game of Long Alley Skittles would have been to the Nottingham pub and club scene at one time.
The rear bar of the Beacon adjoins the skittle alley and plays host to league Pool and Darts matches. The vaulted ceiling has some of the appearance of a Billiards room. The bar counter has the look of a later addition so perhaps there would have originally been more space for a Billiards table or two.
The outside alley is a typically spartan affair, laid to concrete, with a thoroughly functional plastic pipe for the ball return, and large concrete slabs to contain the game. It doesn't appear to get a lot of use outside of the warmer Summer months, which is hardly surprising given the availability of the more comfortable indoor alley.
The 'Horseshoe' foot stop, on which the players back foot must remain during a throw, is an interesting feature. I can imagine a day when this outdoor alley might finally be decommissioned, and people will wonder what this piece of metalwork was originally for!