South Derbyshire isn’t renowned for its views like its near neighbours in the Peak District. The term earthy was invented for towns and suburbs such as Swadlincote and Woodville with Stapenhill and Burton unlikely to feature any time soon on the ‘most picturesque town in England’ list.
One of the most ‘iconic’ views in the region are of the disused cooling towers in Willington. Very visible from the A50 as you approach from either Stoke or Derby they are huge and are unlikely to be either knocked down or recommissioned any time soon.
From afar they are impressive but probably less so close up, apart from their sheer size. Willington itself is one of those Derbyshire suburbs that has benefited from having a train station as there are new houses galore mushrooming up in every available patch of land and some thriving boozers.
It also has a pub that doesn’t appear on the Camra website and would probably win an award for the most shut looking front entrance of a pub that is actually open in Britain.
397 – The Chimneys DE65 6PP is on the Twyford road in Willington next to the big old cooling towers and I would suggest was probably the social club for the workforce when it had one back in the day.
Anyway, it is now classed as a boozer and is arguably the ‘locals’ pub of Willington. Whilst The Dragon, Green Man and Rising Sun all have locals in they will also attract a lot of passing trade due to their proximity to the station and Trent and Mersey Canal. I’m not counting The Cherry Tree Farm as it’s a Farmhouse Inn!
The Chimneys is over the road from a housing estate and opposite a Billesley Common style amount of football pitches which also houses a massive Saturday morning car boot sale.
However, when I rolled up at about 6pm on a Sunday evening, the welcome I received was as warm as anywhere in the country.
I noticed another entrance after seeing the front one looked closed and I went in and ordered a pint or Rock’s finest. I went to sit down and a bloke came over called Dave and told me to come and join everyone else outside.
How often does that happen? Dave (I subsequently found out he was the owner along with his partner Angie) introduced me to a crew of about ten people outside and the scene was set for the most entertaining half an hour I’d had in ages.
(Dave = top gaffer)
I spoke with Jez and Dan and Jez would definitely reserve a warm welcome for Duncan as he professed to having links with St Mirren, Kilmarnock, Celtic but most of all Rangers!
The conversation was primarily football based and involved Kris Comons scoring for Celtic in an 8-0 win over Aberdeen with Jez wearing his Derby shirt at the game; Ted McMinn painting a fence blue as opposed to green due to his Rangers allegiances!
Derby’s Baseball Ground, Anglo Italian cup fixtures against Cremonese and, of course, a little bit of Birmingham City. The fat was well and truly chewed and Jez, who was there with his other half (of Kilmarnock fame) and time flew and I can honestly say I’ve never met a friendlier bunch of people in my blogging days.
What it lacks in aesthetic beauty it makes up for in warmth and the stories were of the highest #publife order.
I also found out there is a Quiz night, a comedy club and a function room and if it ever gets in the GBG Martin, Si and Ducn should swerve it on a Monday or Tuesday as the shutters are definitely down all day.
If I’m honest the Doom Bar was average at best. Drinkable but average and I didn’t see anyone else on it as Carling and Guinness appeared to be the order of the day.
But this blog is primarily about boozers and this is my favourite of the five on offer in Willington as I can imagine it is a lively old place as the evening progresses.
Everyone knew each other, some old boy was searching for his keys of most of the half hour and anywhere that invites you to come and sit with the regulars and then shakes your hand firmly when leaving is worth its weight in gold.