Staffordshire is an underrated county, tainted by association with scandals (Mid Staffs Hospital, the Julian Cope cover for “Fried”, a short pint in Tutbury etc) and some fairly poor social housing (the Tamworth towers, the Kinver Caves).
Scandalously, some pubs only serve one beer. Like this one.
But it has Bass, it has the toilet museum in Longton, and in Brewood it has the most bizarrely pronounced village in England.
And in Cannock Chase it has an oddly neglected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that beats the best East Anglia has to offer.
With coal mining heritage in Hednesford to the west, and toilet making in Armitage to the east, the pubs round here are also a real mixed bag.
Longdon Green is bypassed, so it must be posh, and therefore must have a Brunning & Price. The Red Lion is as unmistakably B&P as any Ember Inn, or any Spoons.
I didn’t bother to take many photos of the tasteful interior. Have a look at the Wirral post if you want to see what it looks like.
- Posh handwash – check
- Adverts for bile beans – check
- Old folk in blazers – check
- Bewildered middle class customers – check
That’s not a criticism; many people enjoy this sort of restaurant. I just wish those people were capable of saying what they wanted at the bar when they get there. Things seem so much simpler in Germany.
Once again, few beers that the average Lichfield philosopher would recognise, except Tim Taylors and possibly Charrington. Again, a beer range that would impress the average CAMRA member rather than the average potential ale drinker.
I can’t tell you how good that “new” Charrington beer is unfortunately, as this one lacked condition and was just….alright (NBSS 2.5).
One of the unfailingly pleasant staff (they really are brilliant) enquired whether the grumpy couple had enjoyed their Sunday lunch.
The ten mile canter through the hedgerow and rhododendrons from Longdon to Hednesford is really quite beautiful, with a great little walk (I saw no-one, of course) up to the castle ring at Cannock Wood.
Beaudesert, Gentleshaw and Noddyfield Valley are place names to be treasured.
So Hednesford still comes as a bit of a shocker. I’ve never met anyone who knew where Hednesford was, and even a couple who lived there and supported The Pitmen seemed unable to find it on my Navigator.
“It’s near Cannock” I said “Ah. No, sorry, no idea”
“You know, above Walsall” “No, sorry”.
“Just off that toll road you can drive at 100mph* on” “Ah !”
Hednesford has had a few community boozers in the Guide over the years (RIP Queen’s Arms), and The Bridge is probably the best of the lot. It’s a great meeting point for the local community, with the sort of feel you get in Tipton, Telford or Peterborough on a Sunday afternoon, with the whole neighbourhood camped out for the afternoon.
You just don’t get this sort of place in Cambridge anymore, with pubs now compartmentalising and deliberately limiting their appeal. I loved it, and not just because it was the first pub in a while I didn’t feel a scruffpot.
Thumping music, Sky TV, pool tables, a real cacophony of noise and banter, fuelled by burgers for £3.25 and cheap beer. Rarely have I been in such a happy pub, apart from on the Stockport Stagger to Offerton last year.
The Salopian Bulletproof was nectar (NBSS 4), cool and chewy, with clearly enough cask turnover to keep it like that.
All human life is here. You’ll have to wait for the BRAPA report to find out more.
*No you can’t