You left me having just completed the first instalment of the Hartshill Mile, a fantastic idea that supports not only boozers in Stoke but also the Macari Homeless Centre.
There is a route of sorts but with differing opening hours on a Thursday then my
drinking walking pal and I had to backtrack on occasions. Not a problem though as we’d managed to blag a lift to the furthest boozer from the train station, The Jolly Potter, which is where we started our crawl.
(60’s shopping precincts)
Of course, anyone who knows Stoke, is aware of just how spaced out its boozers are. I don’t mean in a Happy Mondays kind of way but distance and, whilst this is known as the Hartshill Mile, it stretches into the edge of Newcastle Under Lyme.
(far left – Newcastle NOT Stoke)
Stoke certainly has its fair share of Winfieldesque estate style pubs surviving and it was good to see even the new style micro boozers have adopted that mantra.
441 – The Cask Bar ST5 1DL is bang opposite The Museum (not open till 4) and on a fairly run down 60’s style shopping precinct, which gives it backstreet boozer credentials and there are plenty of chimney pots nearby.
There were about four other punters in here and they were all eating which left my mate and I, who confirmed this looked like the edgiest bar from the outside, but clearly wasn’t when inside, to pitch up in the small narrow section on the high posing stools and see just how many beers we’ve had!
A very nice drop of (Hawkshead) ITI hit the spot and whilst the gaffer and other barman were preoccupied with some sort of paperwork, it was quiet and relaxed and definitely different to what you’d imagine.
A stroll further down George Street saw the imposing 442 – The Greyhound ST5 1JT looming large and it is impossible to miss.
It’s one of those very good Project William boozers that Everards have done so well (think Brunswick Inn in Derby) and this time they have linked in with Titanic.
It’s a classic old school pub with snob screens and etched windows as well as a really helpful barman who revealed this was an historic place as half the boozer is classed as Stoke (Hartshill) and half the pub is classed as Newcastle.
In fact, they used to have different closing times so those punters who wanted to carry on drinking had to move into a different room as the rest of the pub stopped serving!
In fact, this was an early trial run to see if they could annoy Duncan and Martin with unusual opening hours whilst practicing for GBG pub tickers in 2019.
This had the most punters yet both inside and outside and was a good atmosphere with Iceberg (Titanic) hitting the spot for me and it looked like a pub steeped in history.
It was about this time that I got a call from the Hartshill Mile guru suggesting we meet up so we could belatedly be presented with our medals for competing Hartshill’s most difficult pub crawl…it’s a tough gig but someone has to do it.
However, we first stopped off at pub number 4 on the fundraiser 443 – Sanctuary Ale House ST4 6AA.
It’s at times like this you need a sensible, experienced head so step forward Bill Johnson, CAMRA Potteries man!
After an initial chat with the barmaid, who assured us Stanley Matthews played football on this cobbled stone road out the back of the pub, we bumped into Bill.
Not before a very decent pint of Mosaic Milkshake (Tiny Rebel) in this one roomed boozer, which is definitely in Hartshill…
It fits in nicely with the old and the new on this walk and this former café is a real bric-a-brac of seating with something for everyone.
Bill was doing his Potters Bar rounds and dropping them off so, like any good CAMRA member decided to take up the cudgels and join us with the caveat, “I hope you’re drinking halves!”
The barmaid was very relaxed and chatty and Bill appeared to know everyone in this place and assured us he could get us to all the remaining boozers on our Hartshill Mile.
As Alan Hansen once said “You’ll never win anything with kids,” and Bill brought some proper Stoke authenticity to the trail with a long chat about Lou Macari’s former kit man and circus clown and general Stoke legend Neil Baldwin (Nello) whose story is so good it was even made into a film by the BBC…Marvellous if you haven’t watched it.
Four pubs in, seven to go, it was time to retrace steps as the four o clock openers were in business and we had medals to collect