Friday, 25 September 2015
Bulls Head, Cosby, Leicestershire
Despite strong opposition from locals and villagers the Huntsman is now a Co-op store, and the Blacksmiths has been an Indian restaurant for several years now. The one remaining pub in the village, the Bulls Head, is an Everards Brewery house, and thankfully for those locals still interested in such things, a very good one at that.
Everards continue to support pubs like the Bulls Head where others (such as serial pub-closers Marston's, the previous owners of the Huntsman) show little or no such commitment. They also have a good track record when it comes to maintaining their pub estate, and even if the current 'vintage' makeovers, which are being rolled-out across the estate, might not be to everyone's taste (it works very well at the Bulls Head), their pubs remain attractive and inviting as a result.
The alley at the Bulls Head would probably have been a separate building at one time, though now accessed directly from a central corridor of the pub. I think this is why the throwing end of this, and other similar alleys, are laid with deep transverse lines around the foot hole or 'Mott' (below). Winter journeys from bar to skittle alley meant that players shoes would often be wet, and these grooves would have provided a non-slip surface as players launched themselves down the alley.
Tables like this are the norm in and around Leicester city, but can also be found in an area broadly defined as South-West Leicestershire, as well as the Soar Valley area of North Leicestershire. This seems to coincide with those areas which have the strongest remaining Long Alley tradition, perhaps suggesting that this version arose as a Winter alternative to the alley game, somewhat independent of the similar Northamptonshire game.
To complete the picture of this excellent village local, Darts is very popular, as evidenced by the number of trophies littering the bar, including the impressive Ladies Knockout Cup shown below. The Bulls Head was also an early-adopter of the food franchise concept, with the popular Winley's Chinese Restaurant operating successfully from a separate room at the pub.