As I was enjoying one of the best pints I’ve had in 2018, the barmaid/landlady told me to make the most of it as “we’re shutting in six weeks!”
Unfortunately, it looks as though there will be no reprieve for 205 – The Old Cottage Tavern DE14 2EG and it will become another statistic on Pub Curmudgeon’s excellent, but somewhat sad, closed pubs blog…http://closedpubs.blogspot.co.uk/
It was my inaugural pint of Halcyon Daze (Old Cottage Brewery) but it might be my last, which is a pity as it was absolute nectar and only £3.05.
It’s tucked away behind Burton Town Hall…
and surrounded by houses so no prizes for guessing what this pub will be turned into when the sale finally goes through.
I went in at about 1pm on a Thursday afternoon and there was one other punter and the gaffer in there but, I had one of the best hour’s I’ve had in a pub for ages.
It had a hugely welcoming atmosphere and Jayne; the landlady couldn’t have been more helpful whilst the solitary punter, Dave, an exiled Stokie was a proper pub man who loved a chat.
The ice was broken, as it often is, with football and a chat about Burton Albion’s chances of avoiding the drop, which was universally accepted as slim.
Going off at a tangent, there is an urban myth that it is only rugby fans that drink ale but clearly, if you read the preponderance of pub blogs out there, this is nonsense as most bloggers tend to be football orientated (except Rich of course but he’s Rugby League, which is totally different to Rugby Union, plus he’s from Yorkshire so therefore has to be contrary!)
Anyway, as we stuck up a conversation Jayne said that Tadcaster Pub Company were selling off all their boozers outside of Yorkshire and this was the last one remaining but was due to go in the next six weeks. It looked a bit tired on the outside (no surprise) but was magnificent on the inside.
It made me wonder if there are any Pubcos left in Britain that isn’t saddled with a mountain of debt and looking to offload boozers.
Jayne has worked there for 15 years and said unless you have a Free House then it is increasingly difficult in the trade as they are penalising pub managers when they do well.
It’s an age old story but well worth repeating. Pubcos entice you in with low rent, you work hard and make a success of it…Pubco then increase s rent massively and you make less profit and move on and the whole cycle starts again until eventually it closes.
The buyers of the Old Cottage Tavern have no interest in keeping it going as a pub so this is likely to be the last pictures of this place as a boozer.
Jayne said the brewery was still going but this was one less outlet for them to sell their beer, which could also be problematic particularly as they have launched the Midlands classic beer now known as Dual Diamond.
Despite the fact only one other feller came in (Jim, a lot younger and also really friendly) there was an atmosphere in this pub that some places would struggle to replicate with twenty times the number of people in.
Dave was absolutely class and he was regaling with me beer and Stoke stories such as the bedlam at his work place when there was a suggestion that wages would be paid straight into your bank account as opposed to a wage packet. He was originally a Pattenmaker (like the pub in Duffield) and reckoned blokes were kicking off at the thought of their better halves actually knowing how much they really earned when they hadn’t spent it in the pub!
There was a suggestion that Stoke was quite insular back in the day as people used to go to Poole for their holidays but it wasn’t the place in Dorset but Fenton Pool and that was seen as a week-long expedition (a joke just for Stokies there)
I also got a history lesson and the fact that Ansells used to have a shed load of boozers in Stoke, Joule’s brewer started in Stone and that he used to like drinking Watney’s Red Barrel.
And a Bass story also appeared with the fact that his dad used to like Bass with a specific head on it…nothing like the head you get on a pint now. He reckoned it looked a bit like Fairy Liquid and the bar staff used to have to get it absolutely perfect if people were going to drink it.
I bet the walls of this place really could talk and Jayne said there is a really good crowd of regulars and this felt more like an estate local than a pub in the town centre.
(potential next door neighbour for new houses and a stark reminder that I am incredibly fortunate to be be able to afford to go to the pub)
It’s a crying shame that this place is biting the dust and I was given warm handshakes from both as I left (even Jim gave me hearty farewell) and told to return before they shut. Proper pub people making you feel welcome and in two months’ time this place will just be a blast from the past…