Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Wharf Inn, Hinckley, Leicestershire

Over the years I must have had a pint at the very least in almost every pub in Hinckley. In the late 80's and early 90's, a pint in Hinckley invariably meant a pint of Marston's Pedigree (or perhaps a Mild from the same stable if you were lucky), such was the hegemony of the Burton-on-Trent brewer in these parts. Their presence in the town is now not quite as strong as it was, though there's still plenty of distinctive Marston's livery to be seen, including on the Mock Tudor exterior of the Wharf Inn featured here.

The Wharf is a notable exception to my previous drinking experiences in Hinckley. Located a good 20 minute walk out from the town centre, it was just never on the circuit, and of course the ubiquity of Marston's ales in Hinckley at the time would have made the journey slightly less desirable. Given that Marston's stranglehold on the Hinkley beer scene has now been relaxed somewhat, the town offers much greater variety in the beer stakes, and it's certainly a town that I'd recommend for a day of pub exploring. I'd also strongly recommend not leaving it as late as I did and taking a stroll out to The Wharf Inn, which is one of the best of several very good pubs in Hinckley.

It's the unspoilt, and beautifully maintained 1930's interior which most rewards a visit to the Wharf. The original layout is largely intact, and retains several separate rooms around the original central servery. Light Oak panelling predominates, and the wide central corridor with its warming open fire (probably a separate room originally) is the heart of the pub for locals and visitors alike.

A small games room is located to the left as you enter, served from a small hatch, once a common feature in pubs but now much rarer. This snug little games room features a very fine old Skittles Table, which is in as original a condition as you're likely to find anywhere. The brown leather playing surface and brass fixings appear to be original, as is the upholstery and battered woodwork to the sides. The pin-head circles which indicate where the skittles should stand are noticeably sunken in the leather surface from many years of play. This table has clearly seen plenty of action over the years (and I understand that the Wharf is not the tables first home), yet it's clearly been very well looked after.

The custard yellow plastic pins and cheeses used in the Leicestershire game look even more incongruous on a table of this vintage, particularly against the deep brown of the leather surface. But rules is rules, and you'll rarely find wooden skittles and cheeses this far outside of the game's Northamptonshire heartland. The 'oche' for the skittles table shares a space with one of the pubs Darts throws, so if you fancy a game it's probably best not to go on league Darts night.

Dominoes and Darts are played at the Wharf in local leagues, with plenty of silverware on display from both games. Teams playing in the Hinckley & District Domino League are well catered for at the Wharf, with half a dozen of the smartest looking new table toppers supplied for use during match nights.


Samantha Wasmuth said...

Would just like to say as Big Thankyou as The landlady of the Wharf Inn for the last 8 years i just came across this and think u have done a lovely write up and makes us feel proud that our hard work is appreciated again Thank you very much.

Samantha Wasmuth
Wharf Inn
Coventry Road

Mark said...

You're very welcome Samantha. I occasionally visit pubs that are just so 'right' I say to myself, if I lived around here this would certainly be my local. The Wharf is one such pub, and if I make it over to the CAMRA beer festival this year I'll definitely be popping in for a pint, maybe even chuck a few cheeses.