Saturday, 28 December 2013

A Compendium of Nottinghamshire Pubs

Even now, in the midst of perhaps the biggest crisis pubs have encountered in a generation, it's easy to get the impression when visiting Nottingham that the town centre pub scene is doing well. Visit at the weekend and you might be forgiven for thinking it's thriving. It certainly helps that Nottingham has always been considered to be a step ahead of the East Midlands competition in many regards, and it's vibrant pub and bar culture is certainly no exception.

Venture a little further out from the bustle of the centre and it soon becomes apparent that it's a story of very differing fortunes for different areas. The Sneinton side of town for example has it's share of good and seemingly successful pubs, but cross the ring road to Carlton Road and the picture soon changes. The number of closed and boarded up pubs in this area comes as quite a shock, though perhaps unsurprising given the neglect of the nearby market place. The reasons behind so many closures in an area so close to the town centre are complex, but what is certain, is that it's hard to see a future for many of these businesses until some serious money and ideas are thrown at the area in general.

What makes this state of affairs particularly sad is that many of the pubs in this area appear to have some historic or architectural merit, indeed some are still adorned with placards detailing the fascinating history of the buildings and the area in general.

With closures such as these comes the inevitable loss of even more of Nottinghams pub gaming traditions, as can be seen in the images above. The Earl Howe certainly seems to have had a chequered recent past, nevertheless it's sad to see the loss of a skittle alley so close to the town centre. Further up the Carlton Road, another alley has been lost in recent years at the Coopers Arms (now redeveloped as a residence), and you now have to go as far as the New Engine House to find a functioning pub skittle alley on this side of the town.

It's not all bad on the Carlton Road though, and any visitor to the area would be well advised to visit the March Hare on their journey up the hill. Possibly not to everyones taste, but this largely unaltered late 50's community local is beautifully maintained throughout, and the tile-floored bar is a homage to the pub game staples of Darts and Pool, decorated with numerous trophies won in local competition.

Other than the excellent Plough Inn, already featured on this blog, the opposite side of the city around Old Radford has seen a similar decline in its pubs, with the local game of skittles just as hard to find. The image above shows all that remains of the outdoor skittle alley at the Colonel Burnaby, though the pub itself is welcoming, and still supports the games of Darts, Pool, and Dominoes. The nearby Pheasant Inn (below) still has an indoor alley, though whether it's still in use is not clear, and the website sadly makes no mention of it.

Even the outlying strongholds of Long Alley Skittles to the north of the city have shown a marked decline in recent years. Bulwell appears to be entirely free of the game, as indeed is Hucknall now that The Seven Stars has closed, future uncertain. The Seven Stars is a large pub sitting on a substantial plot, ripe for development in the wrong hands! The skittle alley is a purpose made indoor one at the rear of the building.

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