Friday, 14 February 2014

Crown Inn, Hardingstone, Northampton

Leafing through a dog-eared 1990 edition of The CAMRA Guide to Northamptonshire Pubs, one aspect of the pub scene of 25 years ago becomes clear. Perhaps as many as half of the pubs in the county (and almost all the clubs) were furnished with a well used Northamptonshire Skittles Table, some having more than one. Most of these tables were sensibly sited in the public bar or separate games room, some even housed in a dedicated 'skittles room'. It's a noisy game after all, and not best suited to open-plan pub design.

The widespread removal of interior walls and the wholesale 'knocking through' of so many pubs was well under way by the time this guide was published by the local CAMRA branch. Indeed some of the descriptions make clear how local members viewed this often unwelcome change. It was this opening out of multi-room pubs into a single large space which signalled the end for the game of skittles at many pubs in Northamptonshire, a process which sadly continues to this day.

The Crown Inn is exactly the kind of large, high ceilinged pub which could easily have been knocked through into a single large room, wrapped for convenience around a central servery. I'm sure that if the pub had been located in a more 'towny' location, this is exactly what would have happened. Recent refurbishments at the pub have resulted in a smart, attractive interior, which has thankfully maintained a separate, quiet lounge for dining. This leaves the bar and adjoining games area free to host matches in Skittles, Pool and Darts, as well as the all-important televised sport which helps keep pubs like the Crown busy with drinkers throughout the week.

Wednesday nights at the Crown are skittles nights, in the appropriately named Wednesday Skittles League which covers a wide area in and around Northampton. A good night for spectating then, but if it's a game you're after, Sunday afternoons are best as this is the time when the locals like to play for fun and all-comers are welcome to throw a few cheeses.

No comments: