Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The Stag Inn, Kimberley, Nottinghamshire

The village of Kimberley to the north of Nottingham was perhaps best known for being the home of Hardys & Hansons Kimberley Ales, brewed at what was then the county's oldest working brewery. Sadly, and in common with many of the older regional and local brewers, Hardys & Hansons sold out their brewing interests along with the associated pub estate to the predatory Greene King brewery of Bury St Edmunds, who almost immediately closed the brewery. Genuine Nottinghamshire brewed Kimberley Ales therefore no longer exist, and local feeling towards the replacement beers from Suffolk, whenever you can find them, is often lukewarm at best.

The Stag Inn on the edge of the village is one of the few genuine Free Houses in the area, and has therefore gained an excellent reputation for its beer, offering as it does a wide range of real ales which often include genuinely local beers from small micro breweries. When a national brewing giant has effectively destroyed a local brewing tradition, it's little things like this that make a difference when choosing where to drink. The Stagg is also a tidy and attractive two-room pub, with a genuine welcome from the owners and regular drinkers. If you should find yourself in the area, maybe in the shopping hell of the nearby Swedish furniture store, I strongly recommend popping in for a well-earned refresher.

The pub was receiving the final touches to a sensitive refurbishment when I visited, so don't be surprised if the place looks even better than it does in these images in the near future. For games enthusiasts, the right-hand bar features a fine old Devil Amongst The Tailors table, donated to the pub by a regular many years ago and still a popular pastime with both locals and visitors.

The presence of the skittles table, slap-bang in the middle of the room, seems to leave an impression on visitors, and is often remarked upon in print or online sources. It has the unmistakable patina of age, and from the many years of play which it's no doubt seen. Notice also that it also has a 'net curtain' line attached to the pole. This is to prevent sideways delivery of the ball, a stipulation of local league play and a feature which seems to be unique to the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire area, and Newark in particular.

There's also a small collection of vintage coin operated games in the smaller of the two bars. The wall mounted machine shown to the right is known as an Allwin, and it's the second such game I've spotted in as many weeks, another example existing at the Gardeners Arms in Evesham, Worcestershire. These simple games of skill and chance were once widespread and extremely popular, though certainly not confined to pubs. The idea was to propel a ball bearing around a circular chute, with the aim of landing in one or more scoring slots, harder than it sounds and hugely addictive I'd imagine. The wide variety of forms these games originally came in has made them very collectible now. This one certainly looks the part on the wall of a pub like the Stag Inn.


Anonymous said...

The Stag it excellent but it is not a free house. It belongs to Punch Taverns

Mark said...

Thanks for that correction. Would I be right in saying that the pub is free of tie on beer sales though, which is the real point of the introduction in the context of Greene King's domination of the area due to their closure of the Kimberley Brewery.