Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Pubs For Darts

An old advertising sign overlooks the Darts Board at the Three Crowns, Oakham, Rutland.
Ashby Road is one of the main routes out of Loughborough to the busy University site, and it happens to be blessed with two of Loughborough's finest traditional boozers, which presumably see some trade from the constant stream of students passing their doors. I say 'some', but the sad fact is that student trade is not what it was, spare cash for a night out rarely making it any further than the students union these days. Thankfully, these and other more traditional pubs in the town retain a good local following, though both have been under threat of closure, even demolition in recent times.

Like so many similar out-of-town boozers, the Generous Briton was under threat of permanent closure and redevelopment until re-opened by local 'White Knight' Ian Bogie in 2011. For this fantastic show of faith, the pub has received numerous awards from the local CAMRA branch. The separate bar and lounge have been retained, and are considered sufficiently unchanged and unspoilt that the pub appears on CAMRA's inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. The quarry tile floored bar (above), which features a well-used Darts Board, is a particularly pleasant place to enjoy the good range of real ales on offer.

Across the road and a little closer to town is the Old English Gentleman (left & below), probably my favourite drinking venue in Loughborough at the present time. This too has been under threat of permanent closure in recent years, in this case the threat extending to a complete demolition of the building to facilitate a proposed road widening scheme. Thankfully that has yet to materialise, and the pub remains an unspoilt haven on the edge of the town centre, and what must be one of the most friendly and sociable venues in Loughborough. The front bar is the real hub of the pub, the cosy seating area close enough to the bar counter to join in with the chat, which often revolves around sport, and 'the horses' in particular. Off to the left as you enter is a games room with Pool Table and Darts Board, with another Darts Board in the lounge to the rear of the pub. Darts is played at both of these pubs in the Loughborough & District Pubs & Clubs Darts League, the Old English Gentleman being the HQ for the league. The 'OEG' also hosts a team from the Loughborough Students Union!

Darts & Beer at Steamin' Billy pub The Paget, Loughborough, Leicestershire
Spot the difference! The smaller lounge bar of the Falstaff Freehouse in Derby is where you'll find the Darts Board, concealed when not in use behind a hinged panel mounted on the bar counter.

Competitive Darts is played at the Falstaff in the Derby Sunday Darts League.

The Falstaff is a beautifully refurbished Victorian alehouse, located a little way out of the city centre at New Normanton but well worth the effort to find. Another unspoilt heritage pub, the aforementioned lounge bar has been decked-out as a homage to the long-closed Offilers Brewery, the traditional public bar similarly adorned with breweriana and other curios. As if this wasn't enough, the pub sells a range of beers from its own onsite brewery, one of several which go towards making Derby one of the finest destinations in the country for beer lovers.

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