The Sun in September

The Sun in September, Burnage, Manchester M19 1NA

The newest entry on this blog in terms of when it opened as a pub, the Sun in September was originally a detached Victorian villa in extensive grounds that was converted to pub use by Samuel Smith’s in the 1980s. The décor originally had something of an Indian Raj theme, which is where the name came from, but successive refurbishments have largely removed this.

It is situated in a mixed residential area just off Kingsway and close to a busy local shopping parade. Although there is no lack of nearby housing, it is now the only established pub left standing for at least half a mile in any direction, although there a couple of newer micros. The derelict Albion is a few hundred yards away along Burnage Lane.

In front of the pub is an attractive beer garden featuring several mature trees from the original grounds, which shows up well on the StreetView image. The remainder of the plot is given over to an unnecessarily large car park which presumably was dictated by 1980s planning policies.

The main door leads you through into the extensive lounge, which has an L-shaped bar on the left, and four distinct seating areas centred around an impressive feature fireplace. One section has tramcar-style seating. There is also a plainer public bar with its own entrance around the back of the pub.

It offers cask Old Brewery Bitter together with the usual range of keg beers. Obviously the restrictive Sam’s house rules apply, in particular the mobile phone ban, but there can be a good buzz of conversation. The pub clearly has a strong band of regulars, but also attracts customers from further afield, particularly for the popular Sunday lunches.

Several bus services run nearby and it is only a short walk from Burnage Station on the Piccadilly-Manchester Airport line.

The Green Man

The Green Man, Milwich, Staffordshire ST18 0EG

Milwich is a pleasant village situated in the deep Staffordshire countryside on the B5027 between Stone and Uttoxeter. The Green Man stands on the road junction in the village centre opposite a picturesque red-brick schoolhouse with a stone plaque dating it to 1833.

It’s a long, low, cream-painted building. The entrance on the right-hand side takes you into the main bar, which is the heart of the pub, with parquet floor, real fire and bench seating against the windows. Beyond this is an area with more of a public bar feel, and further on again a raised dining area. There is a large and attractive beer garden at the rear.

It was once tied to Bass, and older StreetView images show it still in Bass livery, although it has been independently run since 1990. The regular cask beers are Bass and Ruddles Bitter, with typically a couple of others divided between national brands and local microbreweries. Food is served on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday lunchtime, with the Sunday lunches seeming particularly popular. It is open seven days a week, but only from 4 pm Monday to Wednesday.

It’s a good example of the kind of country pub striking a balance between local trade and dining that was once commonplace, but has now been rendered increasingly rare by widespread closures and the advance of the gastropub.

The pub has a large car park on the right hand side. A little research shows no evidence of a bus service through the village, so the nearest public transport is five miles away at Stone. A mile up the road in the Stone direction is the wonderfully unspoilt Red Lion at Dayhills.

The Swan With Two Necks

The Swan With Two Necks, Stockport, Cheshire SK1 1RY

A single-fronted three-storey pub situated on the now pedestrianised Princes Street on the north side of the town centre. It was rebuilt in 1926 and given a mock-Tudor frontage that has now succumbed to the regrettable modern trend of grey paint.

The original 1926 interior, with an abudance of light oak panelling, survives largely intact, and merits a three-star entry on CAMRA’s National Inventory. A drinking corridor giving access to the bar servery runs the full length of the pub on the right-hand side. At the front is a small, plain vault which I do not ever remember having fixed seating.

To the rear of the servery is the superb, top-lit smoke room, with fixed seating on all four sides, original bull-pushes and a stone Tudor-style fireplace. This must surely be one of the finest and cosiest pub rooms in the country. Further back is a plainer room, again with fixed seating, that was brought into pub use in the 1960s. The Ladies’ toilets have been brought inside, but the original outside Gents’ remains with its three large porcelain urinals.

It normally offers two or three cask beers from the Robinson’s range, always including Unicorn, with Old Tom barley wine available on draught in winter. A pie and mash menu served at lunchtimes.

In recent years it has received a boost to trade following the opening of the new RedRock leisure complex at the rear, including The Light cinema. The rear entrance has been revamped to make it more appealing and a small beer garden created.

The Commercial

The Commercial, Huddersfield, Yorkshire HD1 2AX

A four-square, stone-built, three-storey pub on a corner site towards the south end of Huddersfield’s main shopping street. It appears to date from the early part of the 19th century, and is noticeably older than most of the surrounding buildings.

It’s a Samuel Smith’s pub, with their characteristic comfortable, traditional interior. This includes two cosy rooms with bench seating on either side of the front door, plus a longer room with a pool table at the back left running along the side of the bar. A glass cabinet in the left-hand room contains a collection of beer bottles.

Sam’s usual beer range is on offer at good-value prices, including cask Old Brewery Bitter and a wide selection of kegs. No food is served. I read a description a while ago of its lively, convivial atmosphere, with the typical more mature clientele. After an extended period of closure, it has recently reopened, and hopefully its former character will be re-established. In such a central position there should be no shortage of trade.

The Bridge Inn

The Bridge Inn, Topsham, Devon EX3 0QQ

A rambling old tile-hung pub located at the “back” of the town overlooking the tidal estuary of the River Clyst. Although a substantial building, the interior is surprisingly small and intimate. It has been little changed for many decades and merits a threestar entry on CAMRA’s National Inventory. It has the distinction of having received an official visit from Queen Elizabeth II in 1998.

The door gives access to a panelled corridor running the length of the pub, on the left of which is the tap room, which occupies the front bay window and contains some fixed seating and old furniture. On the right is the bowed back of a built-in settle in a private parlour which also contains the stillage for the casks, into which favoured customers may be invited. Further along on the right is a small, cosy snug containing a massive stone fireplace, which has a small serving hatch linking it to the parlour.

The “Malthouse” at the rear is used for live music events and sometimes as an overflow area. There is ample outdoor seating overlooking the Clyst, plus a marquee at the far end of the car park. Sadly, my sole visit was on a rainy evening when the tide was out, which did not show the pub’s setting at its best.

Printed beer menus on the tables list about six cask ales served on gravity, mostly from local micro-breweries, with Branscombe Vale Branoc as a permanent beer. Simple pub food such as sandwiches and ploughman’s is served at lunchtimes.

The pub has its own car park and is about a quarter of a mile from Topsham Station on the Exeter-Exmouth line. Topsham itself is a characterful historic port on the estuary of the River Exe, and is well worth exploring.

The Templar

The Templar, Leeds, Yorkshire LS2 7NU

A long but shallow street-corner pub on the north-east side of the city centre, the Templar has an impressive tiled façade advertising Melbourne Brewery, who were later taken over by Tetley’s. It now belongs to Greene King, but still offers a wide range of other beers, including Tetley Bitter as a permanent beer, and brews from both Yorkshire brewers such as Acorn and Bradfield, plus ones from further afield. The licensee and many of the staff have been there for over thirty years.

The interior was opened out somewhat in the 1980s, but retains plenty of original features, including wood panelling, seating booths and a cosy snug at the far end. It merits a one-star entry on CAMRA’s National Inventory. No food is served, and a strict over-18s only policy is applied. It has a varied clientele, although tending toward the more mature end of the spectrum.TV sport is shown on numerous screens, so it does not offer the full hair-shirt Sam Smith’s experience. A fine example of a busy, atmospheric, traditional city-centre drinking pub.

The Olde Cottage

The Olde Cottage, Chester CH1 3DZ

Although now bypassed by Hoole Way, Brook Street remains a busy thoroughfare with a variety of restaurants, takeaways and independent shops, and forms the main pedestrian route between the station and the city centre. The number of pubs has much reduced in recent years, but one that survives is the Olde Cottage, a striking mock half-timbered street-corner building originally built around the turn of the last century by the Birkenhead Brewery.

Accessed through the corner door, the interior is split into two sections. The main bar is on the right, with some bench seating around the walls, whereas on the left is more of a games area with loose seating, a dartboard and a rare bagatelle table. There are four cask beers, with Otter Bitter and Wye Valley HPA on permanently, plus a variety of guest ales including local micros and favourites from other parts of the country such as Draught Bass and Wadworth 6X.

It is essentially a community pub, and no food is served, although given its location it attracts its fair share of casual trade. Pub cat Arty turned up as a stray kitten in the summer of 2019 and has since made himself very much at home, although he often keeps a low profile during opening hours. Note that it does not open until 4 pm, except for 2 pm on Saturdays.

The Blue Mugge

The Blue Mugge, Leek, Staffordshire ST13 6LJ

A highly characterful street-corner pub situated in an area of mixed terraced housing and industrial premises a few minutes’ walk to the east of the town centre. The plain redbrick exterior conceals a surprisingly extensive multi-roomed interior. There are a variety of areas radiating around the central island bar, including a large lounge with seating alcoves at front left, a spacious dining area to the rear, and a public bar in the apex separated by doors from the rest of the pub.

On a recent visit, the beer range was Bass, Doom Bar, Exmoor Ale and a guest ale from Neepsend. It is a permanent Bass outlet and sells it at a very reasonable price. The handpumps are situated on the back bar fitting rather than the counter. It evidently does a good trade in lunchtime meals and is open, and busy, at a time when many pubs in similar locations would be firmly shut.

Free parking is available on the surrounding streets, and it’s only a short walk to Leek Bus Station from where there is a regular, although bladder-challenging, service to Stoke-on-Trent.

The Cricketers Arms

The Cricketers Arms, Oakamoor, Staffordshire ST10 3AB

Oakamoor is a small village set in the wooded Churnet Valley close to Alton Towers, and approached in both directions on the B5417 by long, steep hills. The Cricketers Arms is a small, white-painted pub set right at the lowest point next to the river and slightly below the road level.

While it outwardly gives the appearance of a basic rustic alehouse, inside it is actually smarter and more modern than might be expected, although still intimate and cosy with a multi-roomed feel. The bar is against the back wall, with two snug-type areas with bench seating at the front on either side of the door, and another seating area to the rear right. There is also a fairly plain pool room, and a beer garden next to the river.

On a recent visit, the beer range was Bass, Pedigree and Sharp’s Atlantic Pale Ale. No food is served, and it only opens in the evenings during the week, opening at 2 pm on Saturdays and noon on Sundays. There is no pub car park, but there is a small public car park opposite next to some old lime kilns. The village is served by the 32A bus service between Alton Towers and Cheadle, which does run on Sundays, but not at all in the evenings.

The Olde Boar’s Head

The Olde Boar’s Head, Middleton, Lancashire M24 6UE

An ancient, leaning, half-timbered inn, dating back at least to 1632, situated at the north end of the town. While Middleton’s town centre has been extensively redeveloped, Long Street on which it stands retains a number of handsome buildings dating from the Georgian and early Victorian periods.

Entering through a low doorway, the interior lives up to the promise of the exterior, with a central bar serving a variety of different rooms. Along the front are a lounge on the left and a vault on the right, with several areas to the rear including a couple of cosy snugs with bench seating. Although it does not appear on CAMRA’s National Inventory, it retains a very traditional character, with low beams, stone-flagged floors and even a viewing panel giving a sight of the original wattle and daub.

There is a cosy beer garden at the rear, and on the right-hand side is the Sessions Room, now used as a function room, which was once the local court house. It’s a J. W. Lees tied house, offering their Bitter alongside their various seasonal beers. A range of food is available at lunchtimes. There is a spacious car park on the right-hand side, although you will have to enter your registration inside to avoid being charged, and Middleton bus station is about ten minutes’ walk away.

Despite its great historical character, it remains a down-to-earth working pub rather than a tourist showpiece. Maybe it doesn’t get the attention it deserves being situated in a workaday Lancashire town off the railway network.