As the song goes, “For each pound of joy, there’s an ounce of regret“, and for every trip to Newbury there’s one to Theale, one of our most bewildering large villages.

You might assume West Berkshire is all horsey racing, drama societies and Good Old Boys.  Theale, though,  would be more at home as a suburb of Wigan, so “lively” are its pubs. I always assumed this was where folk from Reading came for their aggro, but perhaps that’s Goring these days.

I thought it was a large village anyway.  Looking at Wikipedia now I see it’s only half the size of my own. That the Bull was my fifth basic Beer Guide pub here over the years seems more than surprising. Of those five, the Lamb and Red Lion are two of a number of less surprising casualties.

I have no idea what heinous crime against CAMRA the Volunteer has commited to escape the GBG over the years, but it is an attractive-looking Fullers house so perhaps there’s your explanation. No doubt I’ll be headed there next year.


I’m struggling to write much about Theale that isn’t about pubs, but Holy Trinity is as impressive a church as I’ve seen in a village of 3,000 souls.


And the Old Lamb would make a good micropub.


You probably won’t believe this, but I thought I’d discovered an unlogged new micropub called The Ale Club near the church.  The handwritten sign read “The ale club – open from 5pm for real ales, draft beers and larger’s“.  But it was just a sign for the village social club.

Anyway, the Bull. Looks OK on the outside.


On the upside, it’s the only pub in Theale I haven’t felt a tiny bit intimidated in, and I’m no shrinking violet. The Wadworth Bishop’s Tipple was pretty good too (NBSS 3.5), though probably not quite drinking at its 5% ABV.  The lack of a 6X is a criminal offence.


I see Simon had a fun time here recently, when he astonishingly predicted its GBG status.  I couldn’t be that harsh; I liked the unmodernised feel and the lack of a Prosecco promotion is always a bonus.

NB Would have used “Theale or no The ale” as a title but sure BRAPA has that under copyright.

9 thoughts on “THE REAL THEALE

  1. And they say it’s grim Up North! Au contraire – far too many places in S & SE that are full of intimidating types. Sad really when they live in such beautiful places. Dorchester is one such place that springs to mind, all Chavs and Mayor of Casterbridge!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Dave,
      I think is a bit of a piss take,when i compare towns like that to where i live there is no comparison,i walk to work past factorys old ex working canals and one of the largest rail depots in the country and that is just where i live,when i get to work more factorys and chimneys and another dumpy town.


      1. Well Alan (and Dave) all I can tell you is that the pubs rhere were universally rough. I quite like them, but it’s a million miles from Newbury (or even Reading). I’d compare Theale to Arnold in north Nottingham, Alan.

        You can read Simon’s report if you don’t believe me !


      1. Arnold is quite posh compared to Stapleford,Sandiacre and Long Eaton,there has never been much industry in Arnold as it is more of an overspill housing area of Nottingham.
        I went in the old Vic many years ago i have not got the time to find the precise date,but i found it to look rough outside but very friendly inside.

        I think it is how you compare rough,i thought the Brass Handles in Salford was rough and Billy Greens in Collyhurst rough,while outsiders consider the Red Lion in Sandiacre rough.
        So when i go to some quaint towns down South i am not intimidated one bit as on a scale of roughness i do not consider them on it.
        It is probably where you come from and how you was brought up to how you take what is rough or not.


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