The Chimneys Are Smoking In Willington

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.

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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 DragonGreen 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.

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However, when I rolled up at about 6pm on a Sunday evening, the welcome I received was as warm as anywhere in the country.

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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)

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.


18 thoughts on “The Chimneys Are Smoking In Willington

  1. So from that we learn you can have a good pub, despite crap beer. Probably why most beer drinkers in these sort of pubs go for Lager or something like John’s smooth, purely because they’ve been bitten too many times before.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. To be fair I mainly drink Taddy Lager or Sam Smith’s Stout in my own local(s), if only for the reason you never know what you are going to get with cask OBB. To be fair Taddy is a pleasant drink and the Stout is as good as any.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The more pubs I visit I realise it’s each to their own …drink Marston’s black sheep carlsberg strongbow brewdog or anything you want really … IMHO best boozers for chat are ones NOT with loads of cask or craft options

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That’s a valid point and I can have a good time in any boozer! Obviously when I visit my local craft emporium Rich I’d make an exception for you and might even chat about Leeds United potentially beating Aston Villa…


      4. Ha, ha. No chance. I got banned from the parents room at the training ground when my lad was there! I committed the cardinal sin of boiling the kettle and pouring my own hot water – I’ve not made a cup of tea or coffee since!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sadly, CAMRA have very effectively convinced many in the pub trade that for a pub to have any value, it must have real ale, preferably a huge choice of real ale, regardless of whether there’s any demand for it or the locals want it. Absolutely sick of hearing beer enthusiasts of all persuasions describing keg only and other pubs like this as ‘shitholes’ etc, just because they don’t cater for their minority interest. I would say though that in the current climate, with so many pubs closing over the last couple of decades, that attitude does seem to be less prevalent. Most CAMRA branches at least seem to understand the value of ‘all’ pubs to that pubs locals…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Couldn’t agree more. I also tire of the constant need for beer festivals as not sure they are of any value with so much choice nowadays and also I don’t think they help the pub trade (unless in a pub of course). This place was full of laughter and the last thing anyone was talking about was the quality or style of their beer…just the amount they were having.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting. Suppose there’s not a lot of use for former cooling towers. Haven’t heard Ted McMinn’s name in years. He was completely unpredictable – don’t think he even knew what he was going to do next, so his opponents had no chance!

    Liked by 1 person

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