The Cock

The Cock, Broom. Bedfordshire SG18 9NA

An outwardly unassuming pub in a rather ordinary village that conceals a wonderful unspoilt interior that features on CAMRA’s National Inventory. It is one of the few pubs left in the country without a bar counter as such, with beer being served from a door leading into the slightly sunken “cellar”. The interior comprises a public bar on the left with table skittles, a couple of wood-panelled snugs on the right, both with extensive fixed seating, an open seating area by the servery, and a dining room at the back. Snacks and full meals are served, but are not allowed to dominate. For many years a Greene King tied house, it still serves IPA and Abbot Ale on gravity together with two or three guests including ones from local breweries such as Buntingford. The casks have cooling jackets so you won’t get a warm pint.

It is close to the Shuttleworth Collection of historic aircraft at Old Warden, which is well worth a visit.

The Farriers Arms

The Farriers Arms, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL3 4PT

A small two-roomed street-corner pub just off the city centre that is believed to be the only pub in St Albans that never stopped serving cask beer. For many years a McMullens’ tied house, it has now been sold into the free trade but continues to serve their AK and Country Bitter along with a couple of guest beers. Although the door between the two rooms has been removed, the interior looks little changed since the inter-war period, with a front public bar featuring a dartboard, and a rear saloon bar, both with extensive fixed seating backed with light wood.

The Horse & Groom

The Horse & Groom, Scarcliffe, Derbyshire S44 6SU

A stone-built village pub set back from the main road in a former mining area in North-East Derbyshire, it retains a traditional two-roomed layout with lounge on the left and plainer public bar to the right. The comfortable lounge still seems to have a distinctive “Bass” character with dark wood and red upholstery, and horse racing pictures adorning the walls.

No hot food is served, showing that wet-led pubs can still survive even in out-of-town locations, although the locally-made pork pies are recommended. The pub has featured in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide for many years – on my visit the range was Greene King Abbot Ale and Old Golden Hen, Black Sheep Bitter and Pilgrim from the local Welbeck Brewery. According to a sign in the car park, classic car meets are a regular feature.

The remarkable part-ruined 17th century Bolsover Castle is only a couple of miles away and is well worth a visit.

The Crown & Anchor

The Crown & Anchor, Llanidloes, Montgomeryshire SY18 8EF

A proudly traditional pub on one of the four radial main streets of this attractive and characterful Borders market town. The totally unspoilt interior comprises five distinct rooms, separated by a central corridor. On the right there is a public bar, containing the main bar counter, a small separate bar with some seating that would have provided service for the other rooms, and a rear snug with a television. The left has a lounge with bench seating and a pool room. The only concession to modernity is the addition of a new toilet block.

As the sign says, the pub is open all day, but no food is served. On my visit the real ales available were Hancock’s HB and Brain’s Reverend James. The landlady has been in charge since 1965. One of Britain’s true classic pubs and a must-visit. There are a number of other interesting old pubs in Llanidloes.

The Horseshoe

The Horseshoe, Llanyblodwel, Shropshire SY10 8NQ

An ancient half-timbered pub in an idyllic rural setting by an old stone bridge over the Tanat. The benches overlooking the river are an ideal spot to enjoy a relaxing beer on a summer day. The unspoilt interior comprises a plainer vault-type area on the left, and the dark, cosy main bar with a wealth of old beams and settles. Stonehouse Station Bitter, brewed nearby in Oswestry, is the regular beer, with an additional guest sometimes available. Many years ago I remember visiting it when it was a keg-only pub tied to Border Breweries. No food is served, and the opening hours are somewhat limited – evenings only during the week and lunchtime only on Sundays.

Despite the Welsh-sounding name, Llanyblodwel is actually just on the English side of the border. The village also has an interesting church rebuilt in the 19th century by the then vicar in an idiosyncratic architectural style and featuring a spire resembling a V2 rocket.

The Cross Foxes

The Cross Foxes, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY3 7DE

A traditional pub in the mixed residential area of Coleham just across the river from the town centre. The interior is “a symphony in brown”, basically consisting of one L-shaped room with beams, brasses and button-backed banquette seating. No food is served, and it seems to appeal mostly to the classic older male clientele. Draught Bass is the favoured real ale, with a couple of others including on my visit Salopian Shropshire Gold and Worthington Best Bitter.

(photo courtesy of Duncan Mackay aka Pubmeister)

The Lion of Vienna

The Lion of Vienna, Bolton, Lancashire BL1 4PE

Yet another Samuel Smith’s pub – unlike many other pub operators, Sam’s are keen to fly the flag for proper pubs rather than knocked-through, pastel-shaded dining emporiums. This one is a converted private house on the wide, straight Chorley New Road opposite the magnificent premises of Bolton School. It takes its name from Bolton Wanderers footballer Nat Lofthouse.

The interior comprises a spacious vault at the rear with two pool tables, and a front lounge divided into two partially opened-out rooms either side of the central door, each with comfortable bench seating, a real fire, and plenty of dark wood in the decor. The standard range of Sam’s beers is available, including Old Brewery Bitter, at their usual bargain prices, and a menu of standard pub food is served at lunchtimes. There’s no TV or piped music, just a buzz of conversation from the generally more mature clientele.

The Red Lion

The Red Lion, Stockton Heath, Cheshire WA4 6HN

A large pub right in the centre of this prosperous southern suburb of Warrington, which looks as though it dates back to the early part of the 19th century. Originally a Greenall’s tied house, like most others in the area, after a period of pub company ownership it has now been acquired by Thwaites and offers a full range of their beers – Original, Nutty Black, Wainwright, Lancaster Bomber and a seasonal craft ale.

It has recently been extensively refurbished by Thwaites, but retains a multi-roomed layout with a separate vault, a main bar on the lounge side with seating to front and rear, another room on the left and the delightful, cosy, TV-free “Bowling Room” to the rear. I spotted a menu of sandwiches and snacks; I’m not sure if full knife-and-fork meals are also served.

While making more concessions to the modern world than many of the other pubs on this blog, such as showing Sky Sports, it retains a vibrant, pubby atmosphere and many interesting architectural features. The pub still has its own bowling green to the rear. It doesn’t have a car park, but you can park for an hour for free on the public car park round the back.