Five pubs have appeared in every edition (43) of the Good Beer Guide, and it did occur to me that at some point we will be down to one. When you retire these things matter, you know. In 1998 my wife and I visited the 25 pubs that had survived 25 editions; we got a couple of bottles of a specially brewed Burton museum beer from CAMRA. The Fisherman’s Tavern near Dundee was our favourite.
There’s been some attention given to the future of the Roscoe’s Head in Liverpool recently, and it’s status as the only survivor north of Cambridge came up. That (near) Cambridge pub, the Queen’s Head is a classic pub I can see remaining unchanged as long as the Short family are around, and it would be a brave man to try and convert the last pub in this small village into desirable residential use.
I occasionally hear people in pubs discuss their trips to the Square & Compass in the Purbecks, which also is unchanged and long overdue a return visit. The pasties seem to be as big an attraction as the Palmers.
London has two of the five, a Fullers and a Youngs, both in SW1. I’ve been to the Star a few times and had some excellent Pride, but just the one visit to the Buckingham Arms, so my return visit on Monday was a chance to see what keeps it in the Guide.
Obviously this isn’t Youngs as we knew and loved back in 1998, but it is a pretty good attempt to give the impression that time has stood still. Old fashioned pumpclips, no Wandle, and certainly no guests. If that means more turnover for the Ordinary then so much the better, and the Wells version is a pretty good pint (NBSS 3), certainly Beer Guide Standard. Most folk here are drinking, with only one table eating the unpretentious food.
Other touches stand out. Homemade scratchings in paper bags, and a fantastic area dedicated to Mr John and the brewing process. The pub isn’t large, but feels friendly and a good example of an English pub in a busy tourist area.
Next time a group of tourists stops me in St James Park I’d be happy to recommend the Buckingham to them.