For the benefit of our Black Country correspondent
A quick guide to the many merits of the ancient Kingdom of Mercia, which seem to be lost on the current Rough Guide, Lonely Planet and Fodors. I could certainly recommend an overnighter, particularly if the Premier Inn is available cheaply.
Ignore Tamworth’s traditional draws, an attractive castle and modern snowdome, and instead visit the streets around St Edithas’s Church, which itself has some beautiful pre-Raphaelite windows (I copied that) and lovely people to explain the history. Then get in the queue for Truckles cheese shop in Lower Gungate, for unique service and local sticky toffee cheese. The cheese shop equivalent of Ma Pardoes, if you like. A trip to The Lamb Ground is best appreciated on a wet Tuesday in the away end.
Pubwise, Tamworth’s highlight is probably the Market Vaults (Market St), a traditional multi-roomer run to Joule’s high standards. I enjoyed Kinver’s Cavegirl (NBSS 3.5) for under £3 in the newish micro, the King’s Ditch on Gungate, as well as some great Bass mirrors. The Robert Peel on the same road is probably the longest running specialist beer pub, and the Wetherspoons is good.
In years past I’ve enjoyed spectacular Bass in very basic pubs in Wilnecote and Fazeley, 20 minutes walk south, but fear these will have bitten the dust following the events of 1 July 2007. If you’re really brave you could try the Progressive Club, which advertises Federation beers, though Facebook reveals that Carling may also be available.
Shamefully, there is no monument to Julian Cope (or turtle) evident in Tamworth. Chinese takeaways are plentiful though.