Tuesday, 22 April 2014

George & Dragon, Broughton Astley, Leicestershire

When I was asked by the licensee of the George & Dragon why I was so interested in photographing her pub and its traditional games, I explained to her that given the rapid changes in the trade and with it the loss of so much heritage and tradition, I was keen to capture this aspect of pubs and pub going before it had all gone. I was firmly put in my place. "This pub isn't changing..." she said, which I found very reassuring.

Of course the George & Dragon will change, everything changes in time, and who's to say what state the pub trade will be in next year or the years ahead. With less people using pubs, and the inexorable pressures on the drinks trade from the health lobby, punitive taxation, and increasingly desperate pubcos managing the decline of their business, more and more pubs like the George & Dragon will be under pressure to change. Perhaps change to something a little less pub-like. Perhaps eventually closure and conversion to other use, which is as un-pub-like as it's possible to get!

Meanwhile, the George & Dragon is not for changing, and remains a popular pub at the very heart of village life. A pub for drinking, socialising, and gaming of a type which is becoming increasingly rare now, and a pub which is cherished by its locals because of it.

Darts, and the Leicestershire version of Table Skittles are the games which contribute to the success of the George & Dragon. The skittles table is a beautifully maintained W T Black & Sons model of 70's vintage, dedicated to a former landlord of the pub by locals and friends (right). A little of the history of a skittles table can often be learnt through an examination of its underside (below). This one shows the individual number of the table, which all Black & Sons tables carry, as well as the date of manufacture.

Pins and cheeses are the regulation yellow plastic of the Dunton Bassett Skittles League, and the pub field teams in both the mens and Ladies Leagues.

The deep grooves on this piece of stone (or brake disc?) have been created by many years of sharpening the tips of 'Arrows' ahead of play.

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