Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Saracens Head, Worcester

Turn right out of Worcester's Foregate rail station and you'll find the road to Barbourne still has a good few pubs along its length. There's a Wetherspoon if you like that kind of thing, and a cluster of more traditional pubs on or near The Tything. These include noted alehouse the Dragon Inn, and the slim profile of the Lamb & Flag. The latter retaining its traditional two small rooms where so many similar pubs have been knocked through for convenience. The Lamb & Flag is famed not only for the quality of its Guinness, but it's also the home of the Worcester Backgammon Club and a World Conker Championships in October.

Another pub which retains a traditional multi-room layout is the Saracens Head, a busy locals pub on the Tything, and the only one on this stretch of road with a Skittle Alley (until you reach the suburb of Barbourne itself where the Swan Inn is also equipped for the local game). At first glance the Saracens Head looks barely big enough to house a Table Skittles set, never mind a full-size alley, but the modest frontage of the pub is deceptive, concealing a premises which stretches back quite some way.

The Saracens Head has a reputation as one of the more popular pubs in this area of Worcester, and was certainly one of the busiest when I visited over the course of a long weekend during the recent rugby world cup. Televised sport plays an important part in this popularity, and I was advised by locals that the pub could get very busy during major sporting events. This makes it all the more surprising that the pub had actually closed in April of this year, the previous licensees citing the excessive rent charged by the pubs owners. Thankfully the pub is open again, and hopefully a permanent fixture of The Tything, but this gives the lie to those who seem to think only badly run or poorly supported pubs close, the Saracens Head being anything but!

A long, covered cobble-stone yard to the right of the pub gives access to the front and rear bars, and leads eventually to the sizeable skittle alley/function room. The front bar (above) seems to be the main social and gaming hub of the Saracens Head, and this is where you'll find the pubs well-used Darts Board, with home matches played on Wednesday nights in the Worcester Darts League.

Whilst numerous alleys have been lost to pub closures and refurbishments in recent years (the Bridge Inn was in the process of closing when I visited), skittles is still popular and well supported in Worcester. The game is played at the Saracens Head in Division 1 of the Wednesday night Worcester Friendly Skittles League, and having spoken to several people involved in the game over the weekend, the alley at the Saracens Head is regarded as one of the best in the area.

The pub also plays host to a knockout competition in the summer, a time of the year when many players would prefer not to commit to league play. Invitation competitions like this offer the chance for skittlers to keep their hand in during the lengthy off-season.

1 comment:

John Penny said...

Excellent coverage Mark. Glad to see the game of skittles thriving here as well as down here in Somerset and Dorset.