Sunday, 17 November 2013

Pattenmakers Arms, Duffield, Derbyshire

If it wasn't for the fact that so many good pubs have had so much of their character and history 'refurbished' away in recent years, a pub like the Pattenmakers Arms would perhaps be regarded as a largely unremarkable backstreet boozer, and in many ways it is. It's a friendly and welcoming locals pub for sure, and certainly noted for serving a good pint, but going about its business in the unfussy and unpretentious way that backstreet pubs like this have been doing for generations.

It's the widespread blandness evident in modern pub design and decor, and the relative paucity of those which have retained a vestige of their heritage intact which makes pubs like the Pattenmakers special. Largely unspoilt Edwardian pubs like this are not nearly as common as they once were, and sadly are becoming rarer still with every closure and crassly insensitive refurbishment.

Etched and colourful stained glass windows at the Pattenmakers act to diffuse the bright sunlight in a way now frowned on by our current crop of pub designers. An attractive mix of original quarry tile, parquet, and mosaic flooring has survived throughout the pub, and the entirely un-radical use of carpeting, curtains, and other soft furnishings helps to absorb sound. It's the curse of modern coffee house style pubs and bars, that even when only moderately busy the cacophony of conversation and general noise can rise to unpleasant levels. All the result of the current trend for bright hard surfaces at the expense of old-fashioned comfort.

So the Pattenmakers is a pub full of genuine heritage and character, comfortable and cosy, and with a great reputation for beer and a friendly welcome. Which makes it even more sad that at the time of writing, the pubs owners Enterprise Inns are to set to reward the hard-working licensees of the Pattenmakers with a doubling the rent. Such is the reward for success in the licensed trade these days, particularly under the yolk of near-bankrupt pub companies such as Enterprise, and it could be that the pub will change hands in the near future. I wish the licensees the very best with their negotiations. I can only hope that going forward Enterprise might treat the pub with more sensitivity and respect than they have the licensees.

A traditional local like the Pattenmakers is naturally home to a range of traditional pub games. Dominoes is popular, as is Darts and Long Alley Skittles, both of which are played in local leagues.

A skittle set resides for safe keeping under the pool table of the bar. The alley is located in the car park, overlooked by a small beer garden which is ideal for spectators to view proceedings on a warm summer evening. This alley features floodlighting, and a rain-proof scoreboard so that play can continue in the Belper & District League even through the very worst English summer weather.

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