No, not a special edition to commemorate some bloke from Kenya overtaking some bloke from Ghent in our bicycling affections, but it could be, couldn’t it ?
Into Somerset (just) for Frome, a South-Western Hebden Bridge, or at least a Todmorden.
The reputation as a “Cool Town” is a bit odd given the decline of industry that’s hit all the neighbouring west Wiltshire towns, but I guess that’s the most famous local Jenson Button’s magic cool dust taking effect. We can only guess what Melksham would look like if he’d been born there instead.
In much the same way as Glossop, I find it oddly attractive, particularly the chaotic street layouts and imposing architecture, though it’s only really had the Milk Street tap to shout about pub wise for years.
On my third visit, it got even better.
Some top things about Frome
- It’s hilly. Not Lincoln hilly, but good enough.
- There’s some very narrow pedestrianised streets.
- A leat runs through Cheap Street.
- The fish and chips from Barnaby Bills are sensational.
- There’s a couple of “craft bars“, called things like “Brewed Boy” and “Palmer Street Bottle” that were bringing unexpected weekday drinking to the centre.
- There’s a lot of tat in people’s windows.
- The new GBG pub has a painting of a chastity belt.
And here’s a bad thing about Frome
- As you leave the railway station, a sign to the Town Centre takes you to Westbury.
- You don’t want to go to Westbury.
The Three Swans is that rarity, a slightly upmarket boozer. Oddly, and perhaps uniquely, the only meals are served on Sunday evening. It looks scruffy from outside, part of a look carefully cultivated to help push Frome up the Times “Cool List“.
So you get “tasteful” paintings, Tears for Fears album tracks from 1985, solid furniture, a crisps cabinet, and folk who play fiddle in a Mumford & Sons tribute act. Called Mumford & Sons.
It’s bubbly rather than boisterous, and a pleasant place to admire a decent if slightly soapy Butcombe (NBSS 3). Hardly bringing craft to Frome though.
The toilets will, however, appeal to the next broadsheet journalist on expenses to visit the town looking to promote a £300 a night hotel in the nearby village, while playing up Frome’s alternative credentials.
Mrs RM would have loved it.
Now I’ll just sit back and wait for someone from Yorkshire to tell me it’s pronounced “Throw-me” or something.