This time, the pub-crawl is by bus, as the Southport to Preston train line was one of Dr Beeching’s casualties. The quickest way to get there is by the Stagecoach X2 express bus, which takes 47 minutes from Southport monument to Preston bus station. Note that the last bus back is 18-20 (18-15 Saturday and 18-05 Sunday) so this is a daytime crawl. Dave Thackeray accompanied me on this trip in early November 2010.
Dave and I were both impressed by the friendliness of the staff and other customers we chatted to in all the pubs we went into. It was a miserable day with heavy rain, but we had a good time. Too good a time, as it turned out: we had to run to catch the last bus to Southport.
1. The bus station, where a sign encouraged us to use the subway (see picture).
2. The Grey Friar, 144 Friargate.
A typical open plan Wetherspoons. The Wetherspoons beer festival was in full swing, and there were 12 varied cask ales on, not local. The one we tried were in on good condition. I had the Titanic Wheat Porter, while Dave had 3 different beers in thirds.
3. The Old Black Bull, 35 Friargate
A mock Tudor pub with a small front vault and several other drinking areas, one with a pool table. This pub is completely free of tie for cask beers. When we visited, there were 8 real ales on, not local, including Downtown German Pale Ale, Hop Star Pretty Witch, Hawkshead Windermere Pale, Phoenix, Northern and Coastal Kernow Maid.
4. Dog and Partridge, 41 Friargate
A one-room pub with a rock jukebox, popular with local rock fans. The landlord has apparently been here for 30 years. The beers were in good form, and included Holts Bitter, Adnams Bok Bier (which was very nice), Bowland Sawley Tempted, Tetley Dark Mild and Old Rosie cider. They get the beers from the SIBA list.
5. The New Britannia, 6 Heatley Street
Just round the corner from the Dog and Partridge. This is a one-room bar with 7 ales and a cider: two beers each from Prospect, Hop Star and Fuzzy Duck (one of which was a stout), and Old Rosie.
6. The Black Horse, 166 Friargate
A Grade II listed building, this pub has an impressive interior with tiled walls, beautiful woodwork, a mosaic floor and a very tall bar. There were seven beers from the Robinson’s range on sale. Although tied to one brewery, the beers we tried were well kept, and the pub is worth visiting for the architecture alone.
7. The Market Tavern, 33-35 Market Street
This is a small local in a pedestrianised area by the Victorian outdoor market. They have three hand pumps, a German weisse on draught and a good range of Continental bottled beers – a good destination for those who like try something different. There are two intimate seating booths, although we stood at the bar. The beers on sale were: Green Room IPA, Tring Side Pocket and Brains Dark.