Brentwood’s Tourist mascots

I’d been looking forward to Brentwood for a while, my visit probably not as big a boost to their embryonic tourism industry as TOWIE.  I did once watch TOWIE while on holiday under the misapprehension that it was real.

To be honest the big appeal of the ‘Wood was the chance to tick off a tricky pub in Gidea Park on the way back to Liverpool Street. The Ship was closed for a wake, so you’ll have to wait for that joy.

Brentwood almost made up for that disappointment, through a combination of street art (top), beautiful Roman Catholic Cathedral, and almshouses.


It’s a town of weather boarded houses, private estates and country parks, though it suffers from a hideous High Street (but then, so does Durham).  Little has changed in the main drag since I came here occasionally after dressing-downs at NHS Regional Headquarters in Highwood Hospital.

O’Neill’s and Slug and Lettuce still dominate the pub scene, and what used to be a decent Hogshead now looked like an exhibition for Greene King’s worst design efforts.  The most interesting building on the High Street was the Greggs, on which I make no further comment.

Not much of an independent scene, unless you count the places meeting the beauty requirements of the permanently suntanned residents.

I soon felt the call of the rare Beer Guide newbie, the Spread Eagle, with its promise of Bass on gravity.


No such luck.  The pleasant chap behind the bar said he’d replaced it with Pride, which had been flying off the bar. It was pretty good (NBSS 3), though at lunchtime there wasn’t much real ale flying anywhere, more burgers and Bulmers.  Behind the bar the pump clips hinted at exotica like Salopian, but as long as the Pride’s drinking well who cares ?

The burger was terrific, enjoyed over a 1982 edition of Eagle I seem to have missed at the time.  Where is Dan Dare when you need him ?

I do like wedge-shaped pubs, and though it isn’t quite the Baltic Fleet it did have a pleasantly pubby feel, helped by some tasteful but unobtrusive American and proper seating.  The pick of the banter was a long discussion about bookkeeping and the need to distinguish between debtors and creditors.  It’s too late Phil, it’s too late.IMG_20161005_134301.jpg

A few more surprises from history on the way back to the station, at which point I remembered I’d missed out the Rising Sun, probably the town’s best local.  3pm opening would only have meant more disappointment if I’d retraced my steps.


  1. I have followed the link but can’t fathom what TOWIE actually is. It seems to be some form of film documentary series about Brentwood shops in which the shop keepers argue with each other and have somehow become famous, but how that would generate bus tours of the area I have no idea.

    Thank you for informing me of the RC cathedral, I had previously suspected that Blackburn was unique in being an English town with the wrong type of cathedral to be a city but you have corrected me.


    1. There’s characters called Trey and Chazney, they argue about short measure and the lack of beer mats in O’Neills while shopping for OS Maps in the Oxfam shop.

      I was more surprised than you to see a sign to “Cathedral”. It’s internally attractive, though not in Blackburn’s glasses. I’ve no idea why so many of the RC ones are so modern.


      1. I did know that TOWIE was an acronym for ‘The Only Way is Essex’, but only because I once got it wrong on a quiz. I have been to Essex several times. I think the favourite was the time a local saw me entering the carriage with my notebook, thought I was a TTI and promptly tried to give me money whilst half the train ran away from me.


  2. The Ship is a really nice looking pub from the outside and just has good inside,five real ales on,i had a drink of Courage Best which went down well.
    I did the pub while doing a large crawl round Romford on 30th June 2016,there are two other pubs very close to the Ship,the Archers which now maybe closed and the Unicorn an Harvester that i would never challenge you to do,it was crap.
    I quite liked Romford,very down to Earth people and a decent amount of pubs.


  3. Yes i have Martin,

    I did Witham and Chelmsford on 23 July 2005 in the hope that GK had not shut Ridleys down,they had but all Ridleys pubs done had their beers on and their signage in place.
    I have also done Waltham Abbey and Waltham Cross on 10th May 2003 when after McMullens tied houses
    I am eyeing up Colchester for a crawl in the future probably after Christmas.


  4. I am only guessing that a TTI is a train ticket inspector.
    The Colchester pubs you said open at 3 or 4pm is that on a weekday as i will be going on a Saturday and hopefully all will open at 11 or 12 am.


    1. A TTI is a travelling ticket inspector, so you get 2/3 of whatever pointage Martin was putting on offer in my book.

      I have barely scratched the surface of Colchester but suspect it is one of Essex’s highlights. I do recall a copper wandering into the Fat Cat to inform us the game had been called off once. We responded by informing him that we already knew so he buggered off. I do miss lower league football.


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