There are some counties where the pubs are better than the beer.  My highly subjective scoring system suggests many of Durham’s GBG entries, particularly outside the city, have been very marginal indeed over the years.

In the ex-Vaux houses to the west of the county, despite (because ?) of very limited beer ranges, real ale turnover seems very limited. You get outed as a CAMRA member if you ask for Doom Bar round here.

I can forgive an NBSS 2.5 beer for views like this though.


And incomprehensible banter in pubs like this, which admittedly doesn’t scream “classic” from the outside.

The Turbinia, Newton Aycliffes’s best

The Turbinia is a pleasant (i.e. wet) half-hours walk through the endless industrial estates that define Newton Aycliffe.


It’s a rare pub name, and a rare place to avoid Sunday lunch, though not Durham’s knot of Gooners watching another Arsenal draw.

The equivalent estate pub in Cambridge has fewer holes in the seating, but the Turbinia has the cheer and the better beer, in this case a bargain Coal Seam from Yard of Ale (NBSS 3). I can’t say I saw anyone else buy it, but at least I didn’t get asked if I was CAMRA.

The next pub on the outskirts of Spennymoor was at the other end of the scale, set in a village combining farmland and back-to-back terraces.


The first question I got in the Red Alligator was the immortal “Are you coming for lunch“.  To be fair, that was only because the roast beef had just run out.  I was mildly disappointed.  Fans of children standing at the bar will love this place.

This wasn’t gastro dining, more the sort of homely operation you get in rural Essex.  There was a bit more cask being drunk here, mainly Doom Bar, and my Tyne Bank was the inevitable NBSS 3.

Two cheerful pubs where you don’t feel stared at, despite your incomprehensible accent.  If you want classic beer, though, you need to head along the A689 to Wolsingham and beyond.

4 thoughts on “A DURHAM DOUBLE

  1. “Turbinia” is one of the great pub names, although it would be even better if applied to a pub built in the 1890s rather than the 1960s or 70s.

    Speaking as a pedant, it should be “fewer” holes, not “less” 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Been past the Red Alligator plenty but never been in. Didn’t know Turbinia existed (not in our branch!) but not surprised to see not much cask being drunk. County Durham is still 10-15 years behind elsewhere… 😦


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