I strongly recommend you get a copy of the “Rough Pub Guide“. Used copies currently available via Amazon for 1p (+P&P) but I’ve also seen it pop up in bargain bins if you live in certain types of town.
It’s not a list of places to have fights, an A-Z of Aberdeen would do for that. Rather it’s a personal collection of pubs with character imbued other than by the serving of food and drinks. For example, Manchester’s Briton’s Protection and the Temple (of Convenience) are in it.
Actually, it must be good because Cooking Lager blogged about it, and I’m happy to steal his picture for my blog. As Cookie says, “it communicates a joy of pubs I’ve not encountered elsewhere”. Many of the pubs don’t serve real ale at all, but still look like the sort of place you’d like to be in right now.
The Vaults in Tenbury Wells wasn’t in it, but it’s cut from the same cloth. I made a return visit last week and sort of fell in love with it.
Some CAMRA branches have chosen not to list pubs without real ale, Worcester have furnished WhatPub with a compelling description, though it does tend to focus on the bench seating, shelving and ceiling, rather than the overall feel. It’s good that the town now has a Beer Guide pub to go alongside its black and white buildings, but I sense the survival of the Vaults against the odds is a matter of pride.
It’s quite hard to explain the “magnificence” of a keg pub with 1970s furnishings and blokey clientele, particularly to Mrs RM, who was spared it on my visit last year. I’m sure she would have been impressed by the mini bar attached to the ceiling, which I’d completely missed last year. You can try to date this art installation from the price list,if you’re bored.
The back bar/games room is a bit tatty, though the toilets at the rear are (perhaps disappointingly) quite decent.
It’s the small main bar that felt like home, and I got none of the stares I often get when ordering a half, perhaps because it was Thatchers rather than a weird real ale. I quite rate Thatchers, particularly in this heat.
This place does the same sort of job as The Boot at King’s Cross, or the Posada in Wolves. It’s a central place where folk come for a chat and a pint in pleasant surroundings. Folk came and went, or said they would, at regular intervals. The pub as meeting point.
On this occasion I’ll spare you the banter, though Simon Everitt will have a field day here if the Vaults does ever get in the Beer Guide, and he’d leave with the same warm glow as I did.