It’s not quite Proud Preston to be fair, but I always enjoy the annual trip to Chorley to tick off a new Guide pub or two. To me it’s an exemplar small market town, with an actual market that lacks the glamour of Bury but at least sells stuff people want.
Not sure what Botany Bay sells now, but it still gets the coachloads of OAPs, even without the helicopter and U-Boat it used to have.
I can’t claim the town is an architectural gem, but the pedestrianized heart makes for a good stroll, and Astley Park is right on the doorstep.
The pubs sell beer that people want too. A succession of market town pubs in the Guide have a welcomes-all approach, but only one (Malt’n’Hops) has obviously put on loads of beers and that’s had its ups and downs recently.
A dozen or more Guide pubs over the years have served very good Wainwright, Moorhouses and Jennings at a good quid less than Manchester or Cambridge. The Crown looks like it will repeat that trend, but actually offers Fuzzy Duck and Prospect, though I doubt it’s joining the Preston tickers tour anytime soon.
The Crown sums up what I like to see in pubs. Friendly staff welcoming all-comers, absence of food, attractive seating options, a smile and my first “Sweetheart” this year. Sweetheart is a local Chorley speciality.
The chap at the bar commented that you don’t see Mild much anymore. I thought about leaving him my copy of Ale Cry with details of Mild Month in it, but frankly he was clearly getting more enjoyment from his Fosters than I’ve had with some of my real ale recently, so I ignored my campaigning duties.
Across the road, Chorley’s inevitable micropub is very cosy as well.
I was always going to take to this place with Mordue’s Workie Ticket on (NBSS 3.5, £3), but it was the pubby chat that I enjoyed most. For 20 minutes four of us exchanged views on Manchester and Leyland’s newest and oldest pubs, giving me that critical information on new openings that pub tickers love. It was great.
We also touched on FC United’s new ground and Chorley AFC, but I could see how this sort of determined beer chat could be a bit alienating to normal folk more interested in the result of The Voice, the time of the next coach-and-four to Preston, or the price of
Prosecco chillies on the market.
And that’s the only potential flaw in the micro model, as eloquently set out by Matthew Lawrenson recently. They’re rarely places you can hide from the conversation that dominates the room. If you’re part of that conversation, you’ll think your micro is what pubs should be all about.