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.

Image result for rough pub guide
Second only to the GBG

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.

Welcoming red curtains, Vaults

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.

Look up

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.

Proper bench seating

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.

13 thoughts on “TOP 100 PUBS – VAULTS, TENBURY WELLS

  1. Going to have to take your word for this. Looks like many a keg only shithole that has closed due to, well ask Mudgie, he’ll tell you.

    We still have lots of them up here in Rochdale, Oldham and Bury. You should come and fill your boots.


    1. A keg only shithole in a working-class district of Rochdale is very different from one in a small Worcestershire market town.

      I spotted this when I was recently in the area, but didn’t go in as it was mid-afternoon and West Mercia Police might not have approved.

      What was the beer selection, btw?


      1. What are you implying Mudge !
        The beer selection was John Smiths Smooth and Fosters – same S&N line-up as the one immortalised on the ceiling.

        Unfortunately no Caffreys !


    2. If there had been a lone Hobsons or Courage pump I doubt I’d have gone for it just to campaign.

      Cask pubs in ROB will generally be more welcoming and have more character than keg shitholes, but I’ll bet there’s a few Sam Smiths keg places that are worth a visit. Perhaps a project for Boak & Bailey ?


  2. Unrelated question. Not sure if you know the answer, but you seem to know Cambridge well. Would pubs like the Mill and Cambridge Blue typically be open on New Year’s Day? Your answer is appreciated. We were in Lincoln on one New Year’s Day and pubs seemed to be open. Not sure how common it is to be open on the holiday. Dave


    1. The Blue was open this NYD and I’ve have though most would, perhaps with reduced hours. I was in London myself and noting was closed (pre-football custom drives that). You’ll even find the odd pub open on Christmas Day; I spent one 25 Dec in Wetherspoons with family !


  3. I’d say most pubs would open on New Year’s Day, although a lot will not stay open into the evening.

    Likewise Christmas Day opening is common for “local” pubs, typically until 3pm, although less likely in town and city centres. Few pubs are open on Christmas Day evening.


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