Reader Mark from the USA seems to have a mild obsession with Rick Astley, going as far as to visit the Rickmeister’s baronial birthplace in Newton-le-Willows.


Shamefully, that meant he’d seen more of the unofficial Woollyback capital than I had. Sure, I’ve got off there by mistake, who hasn’t when drunk ?  But the nearest pub I’ve done is the Fiddle i’th Bag.  Good name, good pub.

It took some research, but I finally found a Rick Astley track on You Tube. An easy five points for the other Newton connection. Ten points if you can guess what the unmarked handpumps in the video are dispensing.  My guess is Top Hat on both.

No obvious blue plaque for Rick, but a pleasant little town rightly proud of it’s churches, lake, railway history and new Subway. The smart building in the fourth photo down is the inevitable Italian restaurant, no match for the new Subway, of course.




A few decent looking pubs too. Has anyone ever stayed here ?


Despite several stays in Warrington and Lowton over the years (£60 for 3 nights Family Room B&B at Lane Head in 2006), Newton lay undiscovered by me.  So I reckon The Firkin must be a first local Guide entry in many years. Pubmesister may correct me.

More craft bar than micro bar, it has what I’m given to call an “ambitious cask range



I feared the worst, another Merseyside town staying clear of cask. but clearly Newton has taken to the Firkin with vigour.

The Hophurst 50 Gyle was superbly cool and full of flavour (NBSS 3.5+); this is a craft bar with micro pub prices (£3).

Full of young people (mostly) drinking cask, it had a great atmosphere.  Most folk chose to stand, mind.


As Rick would say “You know the rules, and so do I”.  Sit down la’.

It’s joyously unpretentious for a specialist beer bar;

I’d go for Grolsch” said the chap in front.

Or that Lefay.  That’s very rare

At least all that standing left some proper tables for folk needing to take notes or drink their Pied Bull through a straw, a Woollyback specialty I’m told.


While I’m here, any chance of a Beer Guide pub in Haydock.





  1. Until today, although I had heard the name and I have heard that piece of music before, I had no idea who Rick Astley is. Thank you for educating me.

    The handpumps are on a bar which appears to be in a church undergoing conversion to a Weatherspoons, hence they are not dispensing anything as the ale is ‘come soon’.

    The other connection to Newton is that, due to gravity, Mr Astley is stood on the floor rather than floating around in the air singing his song. Grantham’s most famous non milk snatcher discovered gravity, hence the connection.


    1. When i was young and at junior school,we started in a very old school in the first year which had outside toilets,the second and third years was at a separate site in prefabs,dinners and the main assembly were in a separate building and sports were to the local rec,so lots of walking between sites.
      The buildings were on their last legs and needed to be replaced,so a brand new junior school was built and ready for 4th years to move into,the milk snatcher was to open it and have a walk round the school talking to some school kids.
      I got up on the morning of the opening ready to go to school as normal,when my Mam said “you are not going to school today as maggie Thatcher the milk snatcher is opening it”being a proper left wing socialist she did not want me to be in her company.
      I still thank my Mam for that to this day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You are so prolific I missed this one. Newton has had 4 GBG entries before Firkin – Blue Lion; Old Crow; Bull’s Head; and Pied Bull but some of those are going back a good bit and I don’t know if they have all survived.


    1. Thanks Duncan. I’ve done all Merseyside entries each year for at least decade so must be going back; Old Crow & Bull still going, look solid places. Never a great selection between St Helens (which is booming) and the border.

      Liked by 1 person

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