Saturday, 10 May 2014

Old Inn, Littlethorpe, Leicestershire

The recently refurbished bar of the Old Inn. See below for the original decor.
I used to live in Littlethorpe, a satellite to the much expanded village of Narborough in South Leicestershire, and a village still blessed with two good pubs, which is two more than many villages have these days. It's great to see that the village still has its brace of locals, The Plough being our own regular drinking venue back in the day, with the Old Inn standing in on more than one occasion.

When I popped in to the Old Inn late last year, what was most striking to me was how little had changed in the dozen or so years since I'd last visited. The lounge, our usual haunt, was little changed other than a few more threads being bare on the upholstery. The bar (right) was equally untroubled by the passing of time or late 20th century fashion. All Formica surfaces and harsh strip lighting, a style common in public bars throughout the 70's and 80's, and if I'm honest, one that I find quite attractive in a 'dewy-eyed nostalgia' kind of way.

It's a look that regulars and locals can become easily accustomed to, but not necessarily one that newcomers and visitors to a pub will find so attractive. A refurbishment of the Old Inn was perhaps long overdue, and as it happens, was just about to take place when I visited. Whilst I snapped away at the interior, the then temporary licensee suggested I might like to come back in the new year to see the changes, so that's what I did.

I'm pleased to say that the changes at the Old Inn all seem to be to the good. The pub has been brought firmly into the 21st Century. Brighter, tidier, more comfortable, and yet still retaining all it's essential 'pubiness'. The separate public bar and lounge have thankfully been retained, and the Darts Board and traditional Leicestershire Skittle Alley remain an essential part of what makes the Old Inn a proper village local.

If I'm honest, during the years when I lived in Littlethorpe, and used the Old Inn on a regular if infrequent basis, I never knew there was a skittle alley at the pub. Even now it's not exactly advertised, and since we were never truly 'locals' at the Old Inn, it just wasn't on our radar in the way that the alley at the Plough was. Like most Long Alleys at pubs in the area, this one seems to have been purpose built for the job. A simple and basic design which was doubling as the venue for a small beer festival when I visited last year, hence the barrels at the business end of the alley. Note the 'Chock Hole' (left), shaped to take a foot and little more than a pressed and well-worn depression in the aggregate.

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