BIGGING UP BOGNOR – THE INGLENOOK

Last summer I revisited Bognor Regis and was astonished by the transformation of a Butlins I recall with horror from the Summer of ’79.

The town itself was workaday, but at 8am it was redeemed by sunrise over the coast, and the memories of a classic Non-League ground.  The town’s sole Beer Guide entry remains the Wetherspoons, a cheery place with above average beer and breakfast (not at the same time).  The gardens were decent as well.

On Sunday it was an altogether more sedate Bognor in the form of the Inglenook, in either Pagham or Nyetimber depending on which version of the Beer Guide you use.  A good hour’s walk from the station either way.

It’s always instructive to visit a CAMRA Branch Pub of the Year (this is West Sussex’s), although a desire for rotation of POTY can mean it’s not the best.  The Inglenook is unusual, but fantastic.

Unusual because it’s an old-fashioned South Coast hotel, albeit set back from the sea, rather than a town alehouse or classic rural pub, of which the Branch also has several good candidates.

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I like the fact that this pub has such broad appeal, though tonight I’m at the younger end of the clientele, and one of the few non-cardigan wearers.  There’s a real pubby buzz about the place, helped by some superb drunken banter from two young Irish ladies sitting dangerously close to a monstrous fire, and the low level Sinatra.

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The beer range mixes the well-known (Pride, Youngs) with the dependable lesser-known (Dark Star APA, NBSS 3.5), beautifully served in their own glasses.

It’s definitely not a gastro-pub.  Most of the attractive seating is set for drinkers, with a separate dining room serving an upmarket menu. Some might consider the seating a bit fussy, but it certainly passed my “Could I read a book here ?” test.

Normally I dislike pubs with lots of chairs round the bar, but I thought it added to a mixed atmosphere and didn’t impede access to the serving area.

Excellent pub, and as different a POTY from the norm as the Boar’s Head in Stockport.

 

I’m surprised the pub scene in Bognor is so limited. Felpham to the east looked like it ought to have a decent pub or two, but Inglenook apart the best pubs are west of here seem to be in East Wittering and Itchenor.

 

 

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