The Vaults

The Vaults, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire ST14 8HP

An unassuming, shop-like frontage on Uttoxeter’s Market Place conceals a pub interior of great character running deep down the original burgage plot. The heart of the pub is the front bar with lino floor, bench seating and pictures on the walls of excursions by regulars to many other classic pubs. Behind this is a middle room featuring a devil among the tailors game, and a comfortable carpeted rear lounge with upholstered benches. The toilets are yet further back along the side passageway running the full length of the pub. It is included as a regional entry on CAMRA’s National Inventory.

It’s very much a classic drink and chat pub with no food served. For many years it was a stronghold of Draught Bass, with a famous photo showing all five handpumps bearing Bass pumpclips, but on my recent visit I was pleased to see they had added Stockport-brewed Robinson’s Wizard as a guest beer.

The Vine

The Vine, Brierley Hill, Staffordshire DY5 2TN

Often known as the “Bull & Bladder”, the Vine, with its striking exterior, is perhaps the acme of “real pubs”. It’s the brewery tap for Batham’s, with their small brewery abutting on to the left-hand side of the pub. It’s located in a characteristically rather amorphous part of the Black Country about half a mile south of Brierley Hill town centre. The spacious car park opposite undoubtedly increases its appeal to visitors travelling from further afield.

It retains many original features and is a regional entry on CAMRA’s National Inventory. There are four rooms – the classic, unspoilt public bar on the right, a comfortable lounge on the left, with plenty of bench seating, a cosy snug at the rear left and a long room behind the bar at the rear right with a dartboard at the end.

Batham’s highly-regarded Mild and Bitter are served at very reasonable prices, together with their Old Ale in the winter. Traditional Black Country meals are served on Monday to Friday lunchtimes, but it’s essentially a classic drink and chat pub where you’re likely to hear plenty of distinctive Black Country accents and banter.

(Photo courtesy of Batham’s Brewery)

The Colpitts Hotel

The Colpitts Hotel, Durham DH1 4EL

A stone-built pub situated at the sharp angle of two roads in a residential area to the west of the city centre, up a steep climb from the river. It features as a regional entry on CAMRA’s National Inventory. The interior consists of three rooms – the congenial main bar in the apex of the building, divided by a central fireplace, and a cosy snug and pool room on the opposite side of the dividing corridor.

It’s a Samuel Smith’s pub, with Old Brewery Bitter and their keg range at their usual keen prices. No food is served, but it’s popular with a wide variety of drinkers from the surrounding area including a substantial student contingent. On my visit I was amused by a group of students wrestling with a pub quiz that majored on 1970s and 80s popular culture.