The Old House

The Old House, Ightham Common, Kent TN15 9EE

An old tile-hung cottage pub hidden away on a narrow back lane in the Kent countryside close to the romantic moated manor house of Ightham Mote. It was first licensed as an alehouse in the mid-19th century, but did not acquire a full licence until 1953. The inn sign has long gone.

The unspoilt interior qualifies for a full entry on CAMRA’s National Inventory, and comprises a large public bar to the left of the entrance door, with an impressive inglenook fireplace and a wood block floor, and a smaller parlour to the right.

Another example of those unspoilt, genteel, wet-led rural or urban fringe pubs that are still found here and there in the South of England, but are pretty much entirely unknown in the North.

The Black Horse

The Black Horse, Preston, Lancashire PR1 2EJ

A striking redbrick corner pub on one of Preston’s main shopping streets close to the impressive Harris Museum and Art Gallery. It was built in 1898 by Kay’s Atlas Brewery of Manchester and is now owned by Robinson’s of Stockport.

The exterior conceals an even more impressive interior which merits a full entry on CAMRA’s National Inventory. There are two comfortable snugs at the front, a central lobby with a richly decorated ceramic bar counter, and a rear alcove surrounded by bench seating with mirrors on the walls above.

It is allowed to sell a selection of guest ales alongside Robinson’s own beers. The city-centre location ensures it is busy throughout the day with a wide cross-section of customers.

The photo was taken by me in the early evening of Friday 23 August 2019.

The Red Lion

The Red Lion, Rugeley, Staffordshire WS15 2JH

An outwardly unassuming cottage pub situated on what was once the main road through the town, but is now a dead end leading to a pedestrianised area. It used to have its own car park on the right-hand side, but this has now been sold off for redevelopment. However, there is a public car park on the other side which is free to use on Sundays.

The brick exterior conceals a timber-framed building dating back to the 16th century, with an unspoilt interior that earns it a full entry on CAMRA’s National Inventory. The heart of the pub is the central public bar, with wood panelling and a quarry-tiled floor. There are two other low-ceiling rooms on either side, the one on the right with a dartboard and an alcove of bench seating.

It still carries Banks’s signage, and the beer range consists of Banks’s Mild and Bitter, plus another from the Marston’s stable such as EPA. It is a traditional wet-led pub, and no food is served. Although the now-closed power station gives Rugeley an industrial image, it is a very long-established market town, and the centre contains a number of historic buildings.

The Hare & Hounds

The Hare & Hounds, Manchester M4 4AA

A small pub on Shudehill on the north side of the city centre, that was once part of a terraced row but is now isolated amidst modern development. The interior was remodelled in the 1920s and remains largely unspoilt, with a front vault, drinking corridor alongside the bar and rear lounge, earning it a full entry on CAMRA’s National Inventory.

Once a Tetley’s pub, the beer range is now Holt’s Bitter, Doom Bar and Robinson’s Dizzy Blonde, with the Holt’s, sold at a bargain price for the city centre, very much being the staple beer. No food is served, but the pub attracts a strong following of older regulars.

The All Nations

The All Nations, Madeley, Shropshire TF7 5DP

One of the original four home-brew pubs that survived into the 1970s, tucked away in a rural backwater near to the Blists Hill open-air museum. It’s set back from the road at a higher level, with an extensive beer garden in front and a car park at the side accessed by a track running at a sharp angle.

The interior, little changed over the years, is basically a single room on either side of the central door, with benches around the wall and the counter at the rear. No food is served, but you’re likely to encounter lively conversation from mature regulars.

Brewing has recently recommenced in the hands of the head brewer from local firm Brough’s. I enjoyed an excellent pint of All Nations Biiter, which is in the authentic pale, sweet West Midlands style, although it should be pointed out not the light mild for which the pub was originally known.

The Peveril of the Peak

The Peveril of the Peak, Manchester M1 5JQ

An early Victorian pub with an impressive tiled exterior, situated in the angle of two streets and now overshadowed by more modern office buildings. The name comes from a stage coach rather than directly from the Walter Scott novel. The landlady is the longest serving in Manchester.

It has a largely unchanged interior meriting a full entry on CAMRA’s National Inventory. There are three rooms around the central bar, including a public bar with an antique table football game, a comfortable lounge (originally smoke room) and a further rear room with a pool table. The cask beer range is sensibly limited to four, including on recent visits Taylor’s Landlord, Millstone Tiger Rut and a couple of guests.

The Star

The Star, Bath, Somerset BA1 5NA

A four-storey pub of Bath stone standing on a handsome historic street on the north side of the city. While externally imposing, the interior is in fact surprisingly shallow. It remains largely untouched since being remodelled in the 1920s, earning a place on CAMRA’s National Inventory.

On the left-hand side of the door is a cosy lounge with bench seating and wood panelling. To the right, a corridor leads to the bar, featuring a long settle known as “Dead Man’s Row” due to it being favoured by senior customers. Beyond this are two further snugs facing the bar, with more benches and panelling. There are real fires throughout.

For many years, it served Bass from the jug dispensed from casks stillaged beinhd the bar. This was brought to and end when Bass ceased being supplied in the necessary cask size, meaning it has now been replaced by the locally-brewed Abbey Ales Bellringer, although Bass is still available on handpump. The pub is now leased by Abbey Ales and features a couple more of their beers alongside another guest, which on my recent visit was Taylor’s Landlord.

One of the finest unspoilt interiors in the country in a pub of great character and atmosphere.

The Victoria

The Victoria, Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire ST5 1HX

A bay-windowed street corner pub just east of Newcastle town centre on the main road to Hanley. Internally, it has been knocked through into one room, but retains a carpeted snug area to the right of the entrance door, together with a longer, wood-floored bar area to the left, both liberally provided with red dralon bench seating.

Draught Bass is at the core of the beer range, alongside, on my recent visit, Doom Bar and Titanic Plum Porter. Not, maybe, an absolute unspoilt classic that people will travel miles to visit, but a fine example of that vanishing species, the cosy, welcoming local.

The Slubbers Arms

The Slubbers Arms, Huddersfield, Yorkshire HD1 6HW

Stone-built pub in the sharp apex of two roads about half a mile north of the town centre. The cosy core of the pub surrounds the horseshoe-shaped central bar, with comfortable bench seating and a real fire on either side. There’s also a games room and a separate snug in the angle of the building which can be closed off for private meetings.

Formerly a Timothy Taylor’s tied house, it still features Boltmaker and Landlord as permanent beers, alongside typically three guests. It normally doesn’t open until late afternoon, but may open earlier when there is a match at the nearby John Smith’s stadium, when straightforward pub grub may also be served.

The name comes from a traditional wool processing technique.

Ye Olde Dolphin

Ye Olde Dolphin, Derby DE1 3DL

An ancient timber-framed pub at the north end of the city centre close to the Cathedral, it claims to be the oldest pub in Derby and to date from 1530. The interior was sensitively remodelled by local brewery Offilers in the inter-war period and is largely unchanged since, earning it a place on CAMRA’s National Inventory.

A passageway running right through the pub gives access to four rooms – the front public bar with quarry-tiled floor, the adjoining “Offilers Room” at a slightly higher level, a comfortable lounge with a large inglenook fireplace and a delightful, cosy snug at the rear of the servery. There is also an upstairs room used as a steak restaurant in the evenings.

Offilers became part of the Bass empire, and for many years the pub was a Bass stronghold. Draught Bass still features at the core of the beer range, together with Marston’s Pedigree and up to six other guest beers. Straightforward pub food is available lunchtimes and evenings.

A truly special historic pub that is a must-visit if you are ever in Derby,