Autumn is a good season for me to reacquaint myself with all my favourite East Anglian towns, most of which seem to have a lone new entry in the Beer Guide this year.  Surely micros will take over Essex as completely as they have done Bexley and Bromley; if they ever get to Harlow you’ll know they’ve arrived.

Chelmsford‘s place in the pantheon of great UK towns and cities is hotly debated.  I place it on a par with Grimsby, which is a treasured position. In my old job I saw rather too much of the place, and particularly its endless office complexes, so a relaxed saunter round the historic centre is always a treat. I mean that.


Actually, it’s when you try to leave the centre that things go to pot.  I vote this the UK’s least pedestrian-friendly city, perhaps tied with Coventry. Physically getting to the pubs beyond the Parkway is a game of chicken run deserving of protected status.

Chelmsford has almost as many roundabouts as Harlow, and the same shops, but strike a blow against its younger upstart with a superior culinary offer from Taco Bell.

Heading to Moulsham Street for the new Beer Guide tick does pass some pleasing modern architecture, and even street art. It also passes a longstanding bargain Thai lunch stop in the market, but I’m keeping that a secret.

Chelmsford’s draw is the cricket ground, bravely resisting any ruinous illusions of grandeur by NOT staging test matches, and a collection of proper pubs with greater demographic variety than, say, Norwich.  Not exactly a hotbed of microbrews or craft, but my NBSS scores suggest a level of consistency to match anywhere.

Half a dozen pubs within a short hop of the railway station, including a craft bar under the viaduct and now the Hop Beer Shop.


This is a cheery micropub in keeping with Essex traditions, with a Pale from Round Tower maintaining Chelmsford beer quality averages (NBSS 3.5).  Fuss free pub cats, a good take-away selection, and good opening hours are further strong points.

The future for pub cats

The Hop Beer Shop is one of many independent businesses along colourful Moulsham Street, where all your needs can be met (apart from Taco Bell).

At the end of Moulsham Street, in the subsumed suburb of Widford, the Sir Evelyn Gray is the traditional back-street Grays local you go to Chelmsford for.  Porcelain bunnies, bargain Mighty Oak IPA, Sleeper’s “Sale of the Century” playing, and chunky cobs. This is the sort of place where locals have never heard of Betty Stogs, and wonder when the Old Stockport is coming back on.

I loved it.


  1. This appears to be an acceptable pub cat. I am appalled when I go into a pub where something that craps in a box in the corner of the kitchen (disgusting!) is at liberty. I am also instantly struck with itchy, rheumy, red eyes and a runny nose. Cardboard cats only please in pubs.


  2. I went to Taco Bell in Cleethorpes once. As an opening promotion, the food was free. It was cold, of poor quality and with the policy of charging the same for beans as for meat, I feel justified in branding them as rip off merchants. Disorganised service of which Wetherspoons would be proud also.

    When I visited Chelmsford I thought it a bit of a shithole, and the Thai place on the market wasn’t serving, so a points deduction to them for that. It also has a church that the locals seem overly proud of, so southern Grimsby, whilst highly generous, if a good approximate description for the style of town. People who know Chelsmford though, I will point out to you to avoid disappointment that Grimsby is a complete shit tip of the highest order. There are no positives.

    I believe Chelmsford is the most recent of the pretend cities to be citificated. I’m not entirely sure why it was awarded this status.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Four our Chelmsford readers I should point out that Grimsby is an attractive port with adjoining beach resort, industrial heritage and some of the UK’s best fish & chips. Good enough for Patricia Hodge, good enough for you.


      1. I think I must sleepwalk through the attractive part.There is the odd decent chippy, though my favourite at the minute is in Cleethorpes rather than Grimsby. None are a patch on Loughborough or Carlisle.

        The adjoining beech resort is a separate town which I accept is less crap than other towns of its category and certainly better than Grimsby. The resort’s pub scene has improved a great deal over the past few years too.


      2. I’d just sent Simon a message to fly back as we haven’t heard from you since the Bournemouth result, and Grimsby has been trending all day.

        Have you been to the Spiders Web? That’s attractive in an odd way.


      3. I can see the attractions of Spiders, it is probably the best community pub in Grimsby. It is in Grimsby by a few yards. Until recently I would have gone with the White Hart as attractive pub in Grimsby, which at one stage showed huge signs of improvement but promptly went steadily backwards and has now sent the local conservation officer into overdrive, which is an achievement because I didn’t previously know that he existed.

        I only returned from Bournemouth tonight. I managed to resist harming myself.


      4. I do not care about possession stats, or any other stat apart from one, which is how many goals each team scores or otherwise. I don’t even care about the manner of how the game is played. I ask two things, the first of which is the bare minimum, the second an occasional aspiration:
        1) 11 players work their bloody socks off for as long as they remain on the pitch
        2) on occasion we fail to lose


  3. “Four our Chelmsford readers…”

    I’m assuming this indicates you have four readers from Chelmsford? 🙂

    (and don’t forget to listen to early Genesis this weekend – by that I mean the albums Nursery Crime and Foxtrot)


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