Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Headland, Northampton

Modern single-story pubs like The Headland, located as they most usually are in the suburban hinterland between rural and urban living, are often well and truly off the radar for all but the most local drinkers. Lacking the genuine heritage of many urban pubs, and with little in their appearance that would sit well on the front of a chocolate box, we generally pass these pubs by, rarely considering what might lie within.

If I'm honest, the purple/blue brickwork and flat roof exterior of The Headland reminds me just a little too much of a 1970's comprehensive school, never a good thing for a person of my age! It's a classic example of the late 20th century trend for robust functionality over the unnecessary expense of the aesthetic. This is probably just the kind of pub the editorial team of the risible Good Pub Guide were referring to recently when they suggested that 4,000 more pubs should close post-haste to make way for more of 'their' kind of pubs.

I wasn't going to let the somewhat utilitarian exterior put me off though, because it's what's inside a pub that matters, and because all too often it's pubs like The Headland which alone continue to offer a truly 'social' drinking experience within their community. In fact it's pubs like The Headland that are the truly 'good' pubs in my opinion, rather than the gastro-exclusivity promoted in guides like the Good Pub Guide.

When I visited The Headland on a midweek lunchtime, the comfortable lounge bar was busy to bursting with local veterans enjoying a regular lunchtime function. This is exactly what I'd expect to find in a pub still firmly rooted at the heart of the community it serves. The lounge bar is the comfortable retreat for dining, drinks and chat, whereas the public bar is principally reserved for that other thing I'd expect to find in a community local like this, the wide range of games and sports which the pub supports.

In common with many Northampton town pubs, the local game of Table Skittles has sadly fallen out of favour with the locals. The table is a very fine one, and it would be a great shame if The Headland went the way of so many town centre pubs and finally consigned the game to a store room or eventually sold the table off. Go to The Headland, have a pint or two, throw a few cheeses while you're there.


One of the many pockets of Bar Billiards interest in the country can be found in pubs located in and around Northampton. Around ten teams compete on tables located in half a dozen venues locally, with a Summer league and various cup competitions played for in the Northants Bar Billiards League. Darts and Pool also feature at The Headland, but it's the very active Golf club which is perhaps the pubs main competitive focus.

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