The Oak Inn

The Oak Inn, Oswestry, Shropshire SY11 2SZ

Situated opposite the parish church at the south end of the town centre, this pub was once the coach house for the next-door Wynnstay Hotel. The narrow frontage conceals a surprisingly deep interior running back down the original burgage plot, including small front public bar, central servery, more spacious lounge and beer garden at the rear. The predominantly red colour scheme is indicative of former ownership by Bass Mitchells & Butlers. There are quarry-tiled floors and an abundance of dark wood. A few TV screens are dotted about, but they’re unlikely to be intrusive except when major football matches are on.

The beer range includes Draught Bass, Station Bitter and Cambrian Gold from the local Stonehouse Brewery, plus two or three guests from North Wales and the Marches. No food is served, but menus for local takeaways are kept behind the bar. On my visit there was an amiable, laid-back pub dog. It features as a regional entry on CAMRA’s National Inventory, and is a classic example of a traditional, unassuming, characterful market town pub.

The Queen’s Head

The Queen’s Head, Newton, Cambridgeshire CB22 7PG

An outwardly unassuming brick-built pub in a village a few miles south-west of Cambridge, that is one of the dwindling number to have featured in every edition of the Good Beer Guide. It also appears as a regional entry on CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors.

There is a cosy lounge on the left, a main bar area with settles and a quarry-tiled floor, and a further room to the right featuring table skittles. The general atmosphere is comfortable and lived-in. Beers are stillaged on gravity behind the bar, with cooling jackets. Although a free house, Adnams’ beers feature heavily. On my visit there were Southwold Bitter, Ghost Ship and Broadside, together with Taylors’ Landlord as a guest. Southwould Bitter was a very reasonable £3.10.

There’s a simple food menu including soup, sandwiches and meat and cheese platters, but it’s no destination dining pub. It has a somewhat genteel feel to it, but is genuinely welcoming to all. It’s odd how the South of England manages to draw middle-class customers to non-dining village and rural pubs in a way that is hard to imagine in Cheshire – see also the Crown at Churchill in Somerset.