I can never get used to the absence of Cleveland as a Good Beer Guide county, for surely there can be no less Yorkshire a town than Middlesbrough.

In contrast Norton, a mile over the A19 to the west, feels like the archetypal small North Yorks town, despite being firmly Durham.  I’d describe it as a mini-Northallerton, but I’m not sure who’d take most offence.  I walked past a new housing development called Marmaduke Place, entirely appropriately.

Classic pink pen work there

Norton hardly registers on my Navigator Map, squashed between the contrasting neighbours Stockton (home of banked Bass) and Billingham (home of the Synthonia).  Like the former, it has a wide, handsome High Street, but it’s The Green with it’s duck pond at the top which distinguishes Norton as a cut above.  They both sell parmos, though.

A large village is dominated by a posh Independent School, whose clearly skiving pupils always seem to impede my purposeful progress on my visits, dithering outside some chi chi boutiques and bakeries.

The posh shops peter out to a plethora of pasty purveyors to the south of the pond.

I had an hour to kill before the Unicorn opened, during which time I discovered 3 things;

1) Street art is alive and well in Norton


2) It’s not just Simon Everitt who eats his Greggs pasty in the local Wetherspoons


3) Norton has an unexpectedly thriving pub scene the GBG is struggling to keep up with.

Besides that newish Spoons, there’s a new Head of Steam, a new micro (Hyde’s), a Tapas Bar, and a craft-leaning place (the Hambletonian).

In contrast, GBG17 offers the trad George and Dragon (Old Peculier and Pedigree advertised), and the ultra-trad Unicorn, outside which a group of impatient veteran drinkers had gathered at 11.58am.

The Unicorn is my sort of pub.  A front bar with plain seating round three sides, cheese and biscuits on the bar, Black Sheep and Theakstons. Or Magnet on keg, of course.

As fine an advert for Masham as you could want, the Sheep was cool and tasty (NBSS 3.5), not for the first time this year.  I sense I was the only half-pint drinker of the day.


Sample conversations;

If you can’t enjoy your food what’s the point ?” – to a clear case of Parmo excess

I suppose you’ll be wanting my money now” – counting out pennies one by one

This beer’s worth getting out of bed for

Lovely folk, rewarded by a TV screen showing Isabel Oakeshott with the sound off (top).

Gorgeous multi-roomed pub too, but as you’ll know I’m not nosey and I’ll leave Simon to explore those rooms for you.

30 thoughts on “NORTON GOES IT ALONE

  1. Love the absolutely top class colouring in- can we see (sea?) more of this in future posts? Swimming to some pubs would make it even better please 🏊🏼🐳


  2. I hope that to counteract the ridiculous lager fonts, the Black Sheep was actually pulled through a life size sheep carcass.

    Looks a great place, I promise to explore the rooms, and so glad Greggs pasty eating in Spoons is now fashionable amongst the BRAPA generation.

    I think taking one pub snack (maybe two) from each bowl per pint is probably about fair.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It was your question about cheese and biscuits then. I see.

        I suspect visitors are expected to consume less than regulars, though in basic places like this there probably aren’t many guests.

        In Royal oak, Wantage, I was virtually forced to sample all the specialist cheeses brought in my regulars.


  3. Cleveland was one of those new non-metropolitan counties like Avon and Humberside that have now fortunately been pretty much wiped off the map, including the GBG.


      1. Martin, you have led me to do some research from which I have learnt, so I thank you, my day has now been very productive. I had previously thought that Teeside was just an unofficial term for the area near the Tees. However, it was a county borough in its own right for 6 years until 1974 when it was disbanded and combined with Hartlepool to make Cleveland. All of these were rubbish decisions, the lot should be in Durham or Yorkshire.

        How do the bakeries rate. Is it as good as the one selling 70p vanilla slices with even on duty coppers visiting that I found in Scuntland earlier?

        The polite amount of the bar snacks to eat is the lot, otherwise you are suggesting that you are ungrateful for them.

        Mudge, there are still a lot of pretend counties out there, only a few have been annihilated.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I did mean the town which contains Glanford Park. The 70p product was a good effort. I look forward to visiting Southport, whenever that may be.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Teesside was a short-lived county borough that encompassed Stockton, Middlesbrough and Redcar, i.e. much of the later county of Cleveland, but excluding Hartlepool and places like Saltburn and Guisborough. It shared with Stockport the distinction of being a County Borough that covered territory from two historic counties.


  4. Dave, if you visited the Burton Bridge Inn on a Sunday you would have seen an extensive range of cheese (and biscuits) in the rear lounge, where the locals,would find it difficult to keep an eye on peckish interlopers.


  5. Are there still a few proper counties that have not been reinstated like Huntingdonshire and is Rutland now on its own or still a part of Leicestershire.
    I dont mind eating stuff off the bar,but is it an urban myth that most of the stuff on the bar is covered in piss,if so it as not affected me over the years.


    1. Huntingdonshire is still occupied by those louts from Cambridge. In the area, Posh has been reassigned to another county recently.

      Rutland is independent again I believe.


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