Preston makes a great base for pub tickers, with fast trains* to pub hubs like Westhoughton, Lancaster and Blackpool, and providing an opportunity to meet the Pub King of West Lancashire himself;


More from Matthew shortly.

I started Friday afternoon in Lancaster, always a curate’s egg with its attractive architecture but strangely unalluring pubs (and below average beer quality). It’s a town that always seems miffed that it’s not as hip as lovely Morecambe.


Still, it’s Christmas, gotta be some entertainment ?

Blue Christmas

Matthew would undoubtedly have appreciated the font at the Lion.

Nice font

Well, it just goes to show; there’s been plenty of life outside the Guide.  The Lion is as homely an all-rounder as you could hope for among the gastro drabness of Lancaster.


There were lady gentlefolk on their own, there were Old Boys reading the papers, and a few youngsters.  A community pub, no less. There was even a lady ordering drinks by instalments (it being Christmas) and a professional complainer.

There’s no cucumber !  And you promised cucumber !”   You’ll have to guess the context of that one yourself.

Bench seating
Classic curved bar and exemplary barman

’70s soul and even older tat. Disappointingly, Nell & Gwynne turned out to be a cover band of the 1650s original.

Wish I’d seen Peg Leg Bates

In fact, it has everything you’d want. Except great cask. A half of Butcombe (hurrah !) looked the part but had that undercurrent of fizz you get in slow-moving beer.  Not bad, but disappointing (NBSS 2).


Even the wonderful fire couldn’t quite improve the beer.


Still, a little gem, and possibly the place  I’d while away an afternoon with a pint of Guinness.

Five minutes up the hill, it was back to high table gastro-land at the Brittania, as you may guess from the sign alone.

Typical smart Lancaster pub
Typical Lancaster seating and toy corner

I was beaten to the bar by the classic “Indecisive mixed group“, though the bloke of the group was desperate for me to go first.  With good reason, as I found out soon enough.

Oooh, I’ll have a cheeky Prosecco  !!!”  One giggled.

“I love it when the cork pops !!!!!!”  Don’t we all.

The chap studied the bizarre looking beers intently for an age, before settling on the German lager in preference to the local keg.


High tables, a bar smelling of spicy food, staff in waistcoats, “Baker Street“, polite society at its very worst.

But it’s saved, a bit, by only having one beer on. A local beer, unfortunately, but a good one, a cool NBSS 3.

One pump is PLENTY

No beer mats, much too common, so of course I spilt the beer from my jug on the high table, another Idles inspired act of defiance by retiredmartin.

“Oooh, it popped”.  Still deciding

As a cheapskate, I’d bought a cheap day return for TransPennine trains only, so I had to make a dash back to the station to avoid an hour that would no doubt have been spent in the Borough wondering how a pub that gives CAMRA members a whole quid a pint discount ISN’T in the Guide.

I texted Matthew “Nothing to see here, see you in Preston”


*I should make the point that the Virgin Trains assistant commended me on the clarity of my diction in ordering a return to Lancaster, in sharp contrast with the rude B&B owner who took the mick out of my Fenland vowels.


    1. My feelings about the place too, Richard, but isn’t the admission, that your mum took you to your interview a bit bold for a Yorkshireman?

      It puts your analysis of plum porter in a whole new light…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Not really, seeing as I didn’t pass my driving test until December 1980 and this would have been maybe October/November.

        Nothing wrong with Plum Porter, but if you like it you shouldn’t throw stones at other beers brewed using extracts/concentrates – no difference between putting plum concentrate in and coffee, or fruit or chocolate or whatever.


      2. I went on the train, like the rest of my schoolmates, Richard, but that was in those rough, tough, 1970s. You know, Ted Heath’s three-day week, power cuts and the rest, before we joined the…oops.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well you passed your driving test 4½ years before me ( first attempt and I then never drove again for several years ) but I’m not sure what that proves about Plum Porter.


    2. I took up the offer of a place at Lancaster and spent a happy year doing precisely nothing except drink beer and chase women,
      The Bailrigg campus,from memory,had six bars and an early initiation rite was to go up and down them twice with a different pint in each bar.
      Despite attending one lecture and two seminars during the year I only failed one of my first year exams and asked for a year off before coming back to re-take it.
      Spent that year working in Morecambe and exploring the many fine pubs in that town and Lancaster which,in those days had two breweries Yates and Jackson and Mitchells.
      I never went back to Uni after getting a job on a local newspaper.
      I have fond memories of Lancaster and Morecambe – quite different in nature but each with their own Northern charm.
      I also have vague memories of a passionate affair with a topless dancer from the Moulin Rouge of gypsy extraction who was working behind the bar of my local.
      She had nipples like chapel hat pegs but I suppose that’s probably too much information.
      Happy days.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. P P-T,
        Well you will well probably also remember the Waggon and Horses as t’only Hartley’s pub in Lancaster.
        I hitch hiked up the M6 to use that and a couple of Mitchells and Yates &Jackson pubs back in the summer of 1974. On my return journey a driver, bound for Blackpool, insisted on dropping me off where the M55 left the M6 despite my pleas to continue to the next junction. Thankfully I got no more than a bollocking from the motorway rozzer who rightly said I shouldn’t be there.
        I never met such a lass in Lancaster but maybe I went to the wrong pubs. .

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yup.
        Knew the Waggon and Horses well.
        And the John O’Gaunt.
        And a pub down by the old flour mill where I stood on the bar top and sang the first two lines of Little Old Wine Drinker Me before a massive scrap erupted and bottles started flying.
        I sang it rather well if I recall.
        The Prof.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. My cameo rendition of The Green Green Grass Of Home didn’t cause a fight. In fact it must be five years since I was last forced to black anyone’s eye – but that wasn’t in a pub.

        I did, literally, have to run for my life, from the King’s Head in Shepperton though, after a bit of innocent mischief-making.

        (The way that one does).

        Nice pictures though, Prof. Thanks.


      4. P P-T,
        I went through Lancaster on the train last weekend and could see that the Waggon and Horses has been demolished and replaced with housing.
        I’m quite sure that town planners are responsible for the destruction of more proper pubs than the Luftwaffe.


  1. I notice that the Borstal Boys were on at the Winter Gardens. Am I right that they were a punk group 30 years ahead of their time?


  2. Please let me never utter the words “Cheeky prosecco ” I am trying to avoid the stuff anywat & hope to be drinking proper Champagne this Christmas (although don’t be surprised to see me on my Spoons perch quaffing the stuff ! )

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Your line “possibly the place I’d while away an afternoon with a pint of Guinness” got me wondering what your opinion is of Guinness. Fan of the old brands though I am, I confess Guinness doesn’t excite me much– I do wonder if it was better in previous decades than it is now.


    1. I haven’t had a pint since Dublin early 2017, and even then it was mainly their craft I drank. Guinness certainly an easier drink than fizzy Peroni or Carlsberg. I suspect Guinness is the same in substance, just served much colder now than in the past.

      Liked by 1 person

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