Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Bolt Driven Through A Sheet Metal Plate


Yesterday I got involved in a game of Pub Snap with my friend Jennyfreckles over at Salt & Light and she won by coming up with a pub called the Green Lion in Rainham, Kent. I told her she couldn't get maximum points if she had not been and drunk a pint there. I thought I might counter today with the latest in my monthly theme of Occupational Pubs : the Boltmakers' Arms in Keighley. As this is in Jenny's neck of the woods, she should be able claim points for having visited the pub. As for me, I can claim full points because I have visited the pub and, as the notes I took at the time suggest, thoroughly enjoyed a pint there. The following piece was first published on Great Yorkshire pubs some two and a half years ago. I make no apologies for repeating it here : after all the next best thing to a good pint of bitter is another good pint of bitter.


I was in Keighley tracking down long-dead family and long fragmented churches when I called in at the Boltmakers Arms for a lunchtime pint. The Boltmakers - a Timothy Taylor house within spitting distance of the brewery - is the kind of pub you dream about when you are a long way from home. Small, cozy, warm, welcoming : it is everything that a pub should be with a little bit extra added just to make you happy. You don't feel lost when you go in there nor do you feel compelled to order a three course dinner and a bottle of wine. The pictures on the wall have been chosen by the Landlord because he likes them and not because they fit into a preconceived theme thought up by a Pubco's marketing team. If you want to chat to the guy behind the bar you can, but if you want to sit and read a book in a little haven of peace and tranquility there is nothing to stop you. The architecture is not brilliant and the decor is unspectacular - but on Wednesday lunchtime I had difficulty thinking of anywhere else I would rather be in the whole wide world.
It is a Timothy Taylor house and they had the full range of hand-pull beers available. I tried something called Boltmakers Best Bitter (4% ABV) which, for all I knew, could have been brewed in the upstairs back bedroom. It was fresh and clean and for whatever reason put me in mind of a bolt been driven through a sheet metal plate in one of the long-lost dockyards of the River Clyde. I know it is a daft comparison by by this time I was getting maudlin. How long will such a place stay open? Will it be there fore my son to drink in? Probably. Will it be there for my grandson? Probably not. 
What a shame, what an undiluted crime - this thing that is happening to the traditional British pub. What a loss, what a bloody, stupid waste. It was one of those days. It was one of those pubs. The Landlord looked at me as I drained my pint and left, wondering why I was crying.

12 comments:

  1. Alan, correct me if I am mistaken, but has the landlord used an image of your good self on the pub sign?

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  2. CB : I think you might be right. My mothers' family all came from the town and they were all metalworkers and machine makers so it is quite appropriate.

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  3. Must keep a weather eye out to see if I can spot a pub sign with my mush on it.

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  4. Wonderful photograph and a nicely-told story. Sadly, we have no such establishments in our region. Jim

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  5. That's sad that the English pub may not be around for more than another generation. I've always wished we had these kind of places here in the U.S. The closest thing I've seen to an English pub is up in Oregon where they still love beer and nice places in which to enjoy it.

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  6. Ah Alan, you win on this one as I don't even know where it is! I'll buy you a pint sometime...

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  7. How wonderful to find a real pub, not something designer or themed. In London, we used to go into a little back street Irish pub. Great place!

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  8. I was only talking to an old friend. last evening, about the days when we both worked for the same brewery. Glad you've set me up with a hair of the dog.

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  9. Really good black and white photo Alan!

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  10. We don't have pubs here. Some towns have neighborhood bars where you can go in and drink a draft beer or a bottle or a can. And some make great sandwiches. Miller's Tavern is one we go to when we get the chance in nearby Arcanum, Ohio.

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  11. Lovely picture and a moving story, because I do agree with you, the nice pubs are all going. I think that it was the no smoking rule that did for many of them, ironically. Plus rapacious breweries.

    Maybe it is still there though.

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  12. I must make my way over there quickly before they're all gone.

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