In recent months I’ve been taking my Dad out and about to some of the great cultural destinations of our nation; Downham Market, Wisbech, Colwyn Bay, North Shields.

Would you like to go to the gardens at Spalding, Dad

Not really“.  It’s best to be blunt when you live in the Fens.

Your loss, Dad.


I think he knew he’d be made to walk 5 miles, stop constantly while I took photos and end up in a plain workingmans pub. He’s sharp like that.


This is proper Fens, lacking the cosmopolitan airs of Wisbech, or the ice cream and micros of Holbeach.  Some may see that as a blessing.

There’s a touch of Georgian Wisbech about Spalding along the river.

Art ?

And Ayscoughfee Hall is almost a match for Peckover or the Elgoods gardens. And it’s free.

Ayscoughfee Hall
The Lake

As is usual, it’s so good I get to share it with the grand sum of a mum and two children looking for an ice cream.

Some gorgeous almhouses and parish church on the south bank,


but the star turn (as so often) is a Sam Smiths pub.

White Horse, Spalding

That was in the Beer Guide a decade ago, but Fenland’s paltry GBG allocation means that these days the trad pubs are out, in favour of (drum roll) a micro pub.  So no space for this one anymore;

Get your Courage Directors here

The town centre has a fair few handsome buildings, including that Fenland essential, the gunmaker.

A “Gentleman’s” Society

There was no-one else taking photos, but it’s a photogenic place, worth a day trip from the south.

It was market day, which meant only half the town were in the Spoons.

The Ivy Wall

The Ivy Wall has lost a Guide place earned from opening, and to be honest the beer from Naylors wasn’t a highlight (NBSS 2.5).  Working out how to use those self-service coffee machines was.

Classic BBB line-up

Lots of life, lots of BRAPA-standard characters, like this one;

Nice hat

I skipped the Prior’s Oven, though it’s a wonderful micro with killer chutney and a promise of Baz’s Bonce Blower (12%) on the bar for Christmas.

Priors Oven

The clock struck 3pm, traditional opening time for a tradesmens’ pub like the Drayman’s.

Drayman’s Arms
Proper pub sign

This is the sort of plain boozer you rarely find in the Guide these days, outside South Wales anyway. It’s what I love about following the GBG; I wouldn’t have guessed this was a real ale pub, let alone a new Guide entrant.

At 3.10pm it was already bustling with pool players, paper readers and professional boozers.  In fact all the people who would have been kicked out of the Sam Smiths for swearing were here.

Stuff your choice

Try telling that landlord he should add another six pale beers and start offering tasters…

I stayed long enough to hear tales of heroically selfless acts to keep local pubs in business.

I was on a two day bender. I think the wife knew where I was

A cheeky couple turned into a cheeky ten pints.  And ten double vodkas

You gotta support yer local pubs

Who put that there ?

I put my pint on the windowsill and knocked over their darts trophy (above).  A few folk looked at me in a friendly but suspicious manner. Simon will know what I mean.

So sank the last of a superb Tribute (NBSS 3.5). Some fantastic lacings on that pint.


Not a classic, but a #ProperPub. Just one thing missing.  It took me a while, but eventually I tracked down the mobility scooter…



13 thoughts on “A TRIBUTE TO SPALDING

  1. “but eventually I tracked down the mobility scooter…”

    You can’t fool me. You have a special collapsible one you take with you just to use in photos. 😉😊

    “Art ?”

    Well, it beats ‘I am Haram’ on your Deritend post (which won’t let me post for some reason – so I can’t tell you that auto photo looks like a 1972 Ford Ranchero). 😏


    Liked by 1 person

      1. I knew it!
        (mutters into his beer about conspiracies whilst adjusting his tinfoil hat*)

        * – which has been painted in a lovely red and green motif, in keeping with the holiday spirit 🎄🎅

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a complex subject, Mark. The GBG is made up of votes in branches that differ widely in size and activism.

      Micropubs and brewery taps get a lot of visits, particularly when they’re new, and established pubs can get overlooked just by not getting visited regularly.

      That said, I reckon the Guide gets it right 90+% of the time; that Spalding micro probably does have the best kept beer in town.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s a big factor of “Ooh! New! Shinee!” and also of rewarding pubs for “making an effort”. It will be interesting to see whether the Grove Alehouse in Hazel Grove comes into contention for SSM CAMRA’s 2019 selections, despite getting a lot of negative feedback.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Some excellent photos Martin, which really capture the time of year. Some nice looking pubs as well which, from the outside at least, look as though they should be in the Good Beer Guide. It is a shame when established pubs are over-looked in favour of micro’s and brewery taps; although I can see the obvious attraction of these places to CAMRA activists.

    You are correct, of course, in your observation about the variations between local CAMRA branches, and the way in which they select pubs for the Guide, but branches do need to bear in mind the GBG’s target audience.

    Liked by 2 people

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