Where better to celebrate my 400th pub on this blog than in a brand new boozer as one of its first punters…
I was fourth in but with a surge that would have put Stafford Paul to shame from a local called Trish then there was no way I was getting there first!
(I’ve won a free pint!)
I say I was in the first five punters but a couple of ‘soft’ launches saw Ian Webster of Beertonian fame supping pints in there and he records it wonderfully well here, whilst I also noted the Burton & South Derbyshire CAMRA boys had been in here as well on another soft launch.
(let me in!)
In fact, it looks like most of Swadlincote had been here before me but, officially, I was in the running for one of the first ever punters to drink at 400 – Bodell’s DE11 8JU.
It’s just off the High Street on Belmont Road and I like Swadlincote, although it isn’t incredibly well pubbed for a place of its size, and there is definitely a gap in the market for a new pub selling good beer.
I initially thought it might have been named after Norman Bodell, Birmingham City’s assistant manager in the Jim Smith era and also famously cited in Fred Eyre’s classic football book Kicked Into Touch as “having eyes like p*** holes in the snow.”
However, it is in fact Swadlincote’s famous son, the late Jack Bodell who was British Heavyweight Champion beating the likes of Joe Bugner (when he was British) and had a fantastic record of 58 wins and 13 losses when he retired .
Quite rightly the town is proud of his boxing achievements and the bloke who has set this place up has recognised that with some great memorabilia on the walls.
Mind you, he clearly knows what he’s doing as Pete Spittals owns the excellent Last Heretic in Burton.
(Pete pulling a Titanic Plum Porter)
Ian has covered this and much more in his excellent piece but suffice to say the first punter in there having a pint on the ‘soft launch’ was Steve Hunt and here’s a picture of me trying to catch him up on the race into the bar as it opened its doors at 3pm today!
(Giving The Other Mudgie a run for his money)
Rumours that Stafford Paul was already inside and waiting to be served are unconfirmed although the shout from Pete that the first person in got a free pint led to an outbreak of power walking but no one was going to beat Trish to the punch and she had her freebie in style.
I’ve not actually queued to get in a boozer for ages, certainly not at five to three on a Thursday, but Swadlincote is now on the map as a bona fide tourist trap after this breaking news.
I had already killed five minutes by following Ash the gaffer with his billboard…
and checking out the local sights…
this definitely caught my eye (one for future Bass conventions…is this on our list Ian?)
whilst at least the graffiti was spelt correctly…
Anyway, the very quick off the mark Steve, not Trish’s partner of the same name who was also there,
but the bloke who was proving what being a regular is all about with his second visit in as many days, gave me the low down on this place in its previous existence.
Apparently a timber yard, Indian restaurant and a more highbrow bar have all bitten the dust so this new Freehold boozer (it’s not really a Micro) is hopefully going to make its mark.
Barbara, from CAMRA, was telling me about her past working in the motor industry in Dagenham and Sunderland whilst gulping down a pint of Dow Bridge D.B Dark and also finding time to tell me this was already the best pub she had been to in Swadlincote even though it was only 15 minutes after opening.
I suspect she might have been a plant from the Leeds CAMRA branch as she said she’d rather drink Cider than Pedigree!
She’s obviously not a regular visitor to the Belmont Services Club or The Foresters Arms I reckon but this place already looks like it will work in an area where people like cask ale.
A hugely friendly bunch of people who I had never met before but were like old friends and Pete was there along with the gaffer of Bodell’s – Ash – and the conversation was flowing and another couple of punters made their way in.
It looks clean, tidy and with a great outside seating area which should be well utilised this summer whilst the pint of (not quite sure but it was an IPA with the orange pump clip) was terrific.
I’ll be back for a revisit and Pete has recognised the market and put a bit more craft Lager (Freedom) on here than in Burton. A first for me as actually at the opening of a boozer and I hope I can celebrate reaching 500 in similar style.