A dark Tuesday night in Sawley is not exactly known for being the epicentre of the hipster scene but this place felt like a real throwback/backwater boozer from another time and region.
57 -The Steamboat Inn NG10 2FY is tucked away behind the gleaming Trent Lock country dining pub and couldn’t be any different if it tried. It’s a focal point for boats as it’s where the River Trent and River Soar meet with the beginning of the Erewash canal.
It’s also one of those boozers that can’t decide which county it’s in and I will plump for Nottinghamshire but I will wait for East Mids expert Alan (Winfield) to let me know!
It’s also one of those places you can’t access by car so it’s a little walk across a canal lock/bridge to reach it and it definitely prides itself on being different to its upmarket neighbour.
Firstly, the Steamboat sells coal! I don’t know many, if any, pubs that sell coal but this place does!
It is clearly a canal trader’s pub and has a ‘small site’ at the back of the boozer set aside for passing campers. Having been here for over 200 years there doesn’t appear to have been a huge amount of modernisation and whilst there aren’t as many canal/boat workers these days there were still five or six locals who greeted me and my two pals with stony silence when we walked in!
Throw into the mix a hyper dog that was up and down everywhere and it was just a surreal experience.
Once we got over the dentist waiting room style atmosphere the locals settled back down to watching Champions League on the TV whilst we chatted, separated from the regulars by a big almost Kiss Me Quick Skegness style ‘construction’ (see below).
The barmaid was friendly enough though and happy for us to look at their vast array of ales and in the end I plumped for White Knight (Goffs) whilst both of my pals plumped for Shardlow, which appeared to be on the turn.
At times like this, I can’t help but agree with both https://twitter.com/NHS_Martin and https://twitter.com/oldmudgie who often say it is better to have one well-kept ale than five or six average ones.
My beer was average really and that’s nothing against the pub, which is clearly trying to set itself up as an historic canlaside boozer with a range of ales. However, I’m not sure what the turnover is in this place as there were only ten of us at about 8.30 on a Tuesday night and I’m not sure that level of footfall can sustain such a wide range of beers.
I reckon if you’re passing on a narrow boat on a summer’s day then this pub would be ideal as it opens from 11-11 and serves food too.
I kind of felt I should have liked it more as it sold cask ale, was old skool and the barmaid was friendly. I just got the feeling, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but we weren’t quite part of the Sawley canal crew (I just invented that gang name) and there was a definite touch of the ‘we like locals’ and I almost expected tumbleweed to come rolling through on occasions.
This is now on my revisit list as I want to see it in the daylight and it may give me a different perspective but, for now, it’s a bit…(fill in the blank).