There used to be a (in)famous Derby pub crawl known as ‘The Derby Mile’ back in the eighties. I’m working a bit from hearsay and I am hopeful someone will be able to fill in the blanks (Colston springs to mind) but, ostensibly, you started at the top end of the Ashbourne Road just off the A38 and walked in towards Friar Gate in the city centre past a plethora of pubs.
There is even a pub en route called ‘The Mile’ with a cracking picture of Roger Bannister on its signage but the days of me running a four minute mile, even to get to a pub, are long gone!
Lots of these boozers have long since bitten the dust but there are still enough surviving, alongside a few new additions, to make it a worthwhile walk and takes in the West End of Derby (not similar in the slightest to London, couldn’t be more different) and also the bizarrely named New Zealand region of Derby (originally a farm named to commemorate the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, which established a British Government in New Zealand)!
Anyway with a rare Sunday free of kids and Mrs BB happy to shop I had an afternoon window to take on the ‘challenge’ of the Derby Mile.
Kicking off in the down under area of Derby is 71 – Traveller’s Rest DE22 3AJ. With Ansells signage it feels like a pub from a bygone era and it was most definitely a local as opposed to a city centre pub, but the small group of regulars were top class, as was the barmaid.
The fire was on, a good pint of Pedigree (Marston’s) at £3.20 allied to some classic ‘locals’ conversation ranging from a septuagenarian dating a fiftysomething, two blokes falling out over a ‘toad’ insult and a quickfire history lesson about former residents of the West End being moved to either Mackworth (if you were lucky) or Chaddesden (if you weren’t!) when houses were demolished.
Just good Sunday afternoon idle chit chat but they all said ‘ay up’ on arrival and then said their goodbyes on departure and I think the warmth of this place shone through. There weren’t many people in for 2.00pm on a Sunday but those who were looked like they were settled in for the duration…
However, I was in the mood for miles and was soon in a classic pub based inside the Georgian House Hotel. 72 – Mr Grundy’s Tavern DE22 3AD is one of those gloriously cluttered places with hops hanging off the ceilings, red telephone boxes next to the bar and lots of books and bric-a-brac that make it seem as though it is in a permanent state of flux.
Nonetheless it attracts a really wide range of people from families dining, to bright young things, studious looking blokes reading books in the beer garden and groups of people spending the grey pound, so you never know quite what to expect.
Bu the one constant in here is that the beer is always spot on. Hairy Helmet (Leatherbritches) was class and poured by a bubbly barmaid on her first day at the pub ensuring the bar was a bright place, even with Coldplay on in the background.
This is a good place and well worth a visit even if you’re not on Derby’s version of the mile/marathon.
The Last Post was so good it is worthy of a post on its own which means my next stop off, for the purpose of this blog, was 73 – The Mile DE1 1FP.
This place was pretty much dead at about 3.30 on a Sunday afternoon with only Ronald Koeman’s last game in charge as Everton boss a distraction with Sky TV on. There wasn’t any ale on but Staropramen at £1.25 a half is a deal too good to refuse at any time of day so I obliged!
The barmaid didn’t look full of the joys of spring but I struck up a decent conversation with the only other punter aside from me and he waxed lyrical about this place. It has a pool table and, apparently, The Mile’s team were due back from their Derby Sunday Lunchtime Pool League – Division D fixture at Ramms Bar any time soon.
The one-man marketing machine for this cavernous boozer told me that if they won 4-1 they would secure promotion and he had been tempted to go and watch (and drink) but stayed in The Mile instead (with inducements like above then why wouldn’t you play for The Mile!)
I’ve got to be honest, aside from the fact the Staropramen was cheap and there was Sky Sports on, he might have been better off going to watch the pool promotion decider!
He did, however, claim that the bar staff were “absolute diamonds” so I might have caught them at an inopportune moment or perhaps they were warming up for a promotion party?
I didn’t realise there was such an organised pool scene in Derby but here is the proof and the ‘pool sharks’ (according to The Mile’s regular) appear to be clearing up…must be all that free Budweiser…
Positives for this place included chatty/ friendly local(s) and cheap beer but I can imagine it will need a lot more footfall than I saw to continue thriving although I’d like to see how full the place got for a home pool fixture.