I’m taking an interlude from the Derby stag posts as some things just can’t wait and the old boys from Melbourne deserve centre stage.
I was with a pal of mine in Melbourne and we had an hour to kill and as he was a local he recommended 191 – The White Swan DE73 8DY as “it sells top class Bass.”
With that recommendation then I can only imagine someone from Leeds CAMRA swerving it, so I duly obliged and we arrived at the Grade II listed building.
Apparently, this is Melbourne’s oldest pub, which was rebuilt in 1862 and it contains two rooms with a Thai restaurant alongside that is currently undergoing a refurb.
Melbourne is a flourishing village in south Derbyshire that has seen a huge amount of new homes built in the past decade and has around 5,000 residents.
It also has the imposing Melbourne Hall, a veritable array of niche shops that only a well to do local village can support, and is definitely regarded as a des res in the local area.
However, when you visit the ‘real’ boozers in the village then you will see that Melbourne has a history and people who lived here before house prices became heading towards astronomical for the region.
Firstly, the Draught Bass (In Bev) was fantastic and a cracking pint with the other surprise option being London Pride (Fullers), which you don’t see in Derbyshire too often.
My pal and I headed into the bar thinking we might have a quiet Sunday afternoon chat but it was an absolute non-starter sitting next to Bill and Ray!
I love places like this where there was a group of four, a bloke at the bar and another couple, but the only space left appeared to be next to Bill and Ray…it’s almost like a Micropub, but in a building that has a bit more history.
Conversation quickly turned to teachers whereby Ray, who was 71 and had known Bill since junior school, said “They are all b******s.” Bear in mind he was probably about five pints in at this stage and we got the story of how Melbourne Secondary School (now closed) was apparently a hotbed of law-breaking teachers (even in the fifties and sixties) as he regaled us with tales of how he regularly got beaten with a variety of implements!
There were some fantastic teachers names such as Slapper Harris, which was almost Bash Street Kids-esque with anecdotes about being hit with hockey sticks, slippers, canes, oar paddles, rings (jewellery) and how some of his pals were pushed down stairs and broke their arms!
However, it was all backed up with “they were all b******s..or tw**s with even a w****r thrown in for good measure!” When he started talking about the female teachers apparently they were “cows” as opposed to b******s!
Once he’d offloaded years of bile it was great to listen to a man who knew the names of his teachers, fellow pupils from the best part of 60 years ago and his mate Bill, who had hands like absolute shovels and was apparently Ray’s ‘Bouncer’
They also knew so much of the local history and they talked my pal through the history behind his fence in his back garden and the bloke who had sold it to him…
Eventually we found out that Ray was a former class 1 referee who sent people off in the car park before the game had started if they gave him any lip and he conceded that there might be a splinter group in another pub who are, at this very moment, referring to him as a complete b*****d.
We had a pint and a half and when I went back to the bar for a half, the barmaid asked me if I was OK and I said yes and she replied, they are just proper old Melbourne boys and the couple next to me loved it. They said they were used to it and he ran through the whole of Roger Mellie’s profanisaruas and taught me words I had never heard before!
Anyway, my point is that when these old boys have gone then then half a century of history and more goes with them and that can’t be replaced. Once they’d sussed us out and realised we were there for the craic then they unfurled some absolute gems including the fact that the former head of Melbourne Secondary School was sha****g both the cook and his secretary (unfounded – possible fake news) and that the teacher was sacked for pushing a boy down the stairs. Also that Ray’s brother had pinned a former RAF PTI turned PE teacher face down in the mud for being a ‘b******’ then it was good value.
It felt like quite a cathartic experience and he confirmed that at a school reunion the aforementioned biggest b****** of the lot had confessed he was a b****** when he was a teacher and apologised.
A great pub, a good atmosphere, beermats, Bass and a lot of history…what more could you want?