It’s a fortnight since I left the village, 3 weeks since I left the Fens, and I’m missing those long drives up the A1 belting out Julia Jacklin and Bruckner on the way to The North.

Roads are so quiet I could be in Stamford in under an hour, unheard of 6 months ago.


The view heading south on the A1 across to the golden spires of Stamford as you cross the Lincs/Cambs county borders is one of England’s greatest.

Sadly, I’m not allowed to stop in the middle of a dual carriageway to take photos, so here’s one from Jonathan (@zuffleking), the Electric Pics of the East Midlands. Great photos on his Twitter.

Photo – Jonathan Burley

3 visits for me in 2016/7, though nothing new pubwise for a while. What do you think this is, Bermondsey?

Future craft bar

Recommended for an overnighter, whether in the chintzy (the George) or the cheapskate (our campervan).

Great riverside walks, 344 churches, 208 artisan shops, just enough pubs.

Life After Football visited the multi-roomed Tobie Norris (aka the “Pashmina & Pizza“) in 2017 and told us “it’s no Coalville“.

Young Simon wasn’t taken with it in that same tumultuous year. In fact, he gave the town the sort of shrift normally reserved for weirdos who ask for tasters.

“The folk of Stamford are perhaps the smuggest, most self satisfied looking individuals on the planet.

Lose the attitude people, you’re still from Lincolnshire, and not even good North North East East Lincs. “

You can see the problem Si has with Stamford immediately by visiting the Tobie and the King’s Head.

Trophy dog, pashmina, sunglasses on head

But, and here’s the rub, the town has some spectacularly good beer. 4s and 4.5s in the Jolly Brewer and King’s Head.

Let’s ignore the scatter cushions, shall we?

In the 90s the local CAMRA pub guide (see top) revealed a treasure trove of craft.


Nowadays they’re a treasure trove for folk mourning the demise of Laura Ashley.

Lady with a teddy porn in Cosy Club

Even the Sam Smiths duo look posh.

Melbourn Bros
Still ยฃ2

The Green Man has NEVER looked posh.

GBG stalwart

And if you come to Stamford on a Sunday night for karaoke in the Fleece you’ll get a rather different impression of the locals in their tattered tops.

Foamy Tiger, now on Netflix

The karaoke of choice WAS “Chasing Cars“, but be kind, these are troubling times and some people take comfort in Snow Patrol.

I take comfort in photos of lacings. IMG_20171003_153908.jpg


      1. He did make an exception for the Jolly Brewer, they are currently doing well with take-out only trade I believe. A decent range of beers for take-out too.


      2. My feelings about the place are different from Simon’s.

        The Green Man was my late grandfather’s local. He had a grocer’s shop on Scotgate between the wars, and for a while afterwards.

        After hours pints would be passed through holes in cellar walls – I’m not sure how far down the road.

        Scotgate was part of the Great North Road back then, or at least some of it was.

        Military bands would march through, and my late grandfather Walter became quite adept, at tossing the odd stale grapefruit from an upstairs window and into the tuba. I seem to have perhaps inherited his attitude towards the military. It’s just as well that we missed National Service.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Bits of Stamford are actually in four counties, or were.

        My mother always claimed her bit for Rutland.

        And why not?


      4. Etu,
        I acquired my “attitude towards the military” through thirty years of working for them.
        Yes, itโ€™s just as well that we missed National Service.


  1. Stamford also has the former Melbourn’s brewery which is now used by Sam Smith’s for their fruit beers.

    In many respects the town is like a transplanted part of the Cotswolds, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, very Chipping Norton. Just enough industry to support some boisterous pubs, though of course its the more genteel ones that make the Guide.

      The first Sam Smiths pic is from the pub next to Melbourn’s, not sure if it still served cask OBB.


      1. In the 1980s I worked for Mirrlees Blackstone, who had a diesel engine factory in Stamford which I visited once, although I don’t think it’s still going.


      2. I didn’t drink much Melbourne’s between my first pint of it in the Crown on 14th June 1974 and the brewery closing before the end of the year but I have still got two bottles of their beer that I bought in Stamford.
        Now was it Humphrey’s father or grandfather who took over the brewery and its 32 pubs ?

        Stamford often gets confused with Stafford – a bit like Burton and Buxton or Keswick and Kendal.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’ll have been Humphreys mother who effectively ran the company before he took over as MD. She sold most of the 32 pubs off after a while.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Was the novel Middlemarch, by Mary Anne Evans aka George Eliot, actually based on Stamford? or is that just conjecture.

    I’ve been sorely tempted, several times, whilst thrashing up and down the A1, to stop off and pay the town a visit. However, combining your photos Martin, with what I’ve read, Stamford looks worthy of a longer stay than just briefly calling in.

    Full marks to Sam Smiths for restoring Melbourn Brothers, All Saints Brewery in the town, to working order.


    1. No, it was based on Coventry, which was a wonderful historic city before the Luftwaffe and the planners got to it. Despite my previous comment, Stamford really is one of the top ten historic towns in Britain, although not one of the top ten pub towns.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree with all of that. In the 90s I think you’d have made a case for Stamford’s pub credentials before some modernisation and closures.

        2 Sam Smiths, Old Bailey in the Mansfield pub, Adnams in the free houses, Charles Wells, Batemans, Pedigree and an early incarnation of Oakham. I suspect cask turnover is a third of what it was 25 years ago, though.


      2. “Stamford really is one of the top ten historic towns in Britain” but had the local landowner not refused to sell land for what became the East Coast Main Line Stamford would be massive and Peterborough still a little town.,

        Liked by 1 person

    2. It was filmed in Stamford, which is pretty much the default setting for period dramas, unless Gillingham has upped its game.

      I think Coventry was the setting for the very similar Specials Ghost Town video, but LAF is the expert.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gillingham has some serious upping to do then, unless it’s the Dorset Gillingham you’re referring to, Martin.


  3. Wearing my pashmina whilst staying at The Crown,I felt very comfortable in Stamford -been a couple of times whilst heading oop North.We’d planned another visit this year but The Crown had slipped out of our comfort zone price wise.The Toby Norris is where I took my first pic of a Bass mirror for your goodself. It is a smashing place to visit

    Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re not joking!

        Yes, I can find you the best parking spot anywhere. Including That London if you must.

        Paying for parking, let alone a taxi, is a sin to rank alongside bestiality, tasters and putting the hot water on the tea before the milk.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Aye. Wi’ t’ cosy an’ all.

        (Actually, I’m an Earl Grey bag man myself. I don’t have milk, so I’d still be waiting by the Martin method)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Looking through my diary yesterday I realised Mrs TSM and myself stayed in the Greys inn at Windermere for a night in 2006 but I don’t remember it ( so it must have been good )

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Couple of points about that photo of the GBG.
    Some pubs have a number to the right of their name. What is the significance of that ?
    Some typos… the Albion have Greene Ling Abbott and IPA. The Black Bull was a Refurbished coaching Inn whereas the Bull and Swan was a comfortable old In. That cannot be the work of Roger Protz, surely.


    1. It’s not actually the GBG, it’s the local Peterborough CAMRA pub guide produced in the mid 90s. I can see why you’d think it was the Guide.

      Odd typo apart, it’s a really impressive publication for a small branch.

      Numbering system is just sequential numbering of branch pubs in a time before WhatPub, which has sadly brought an end to most local hard copy Guides.



      1. As far back as 2008, when West Kent CAMRA started looking at publishing a local guide, there were dissenting voices saying that such physical publications were dead in the water.

        WhatPub and other on-line guides have, sadly proved the dissenters to be correct, but not before our Gateway to Kent Pub Guide went on to win top award the following year.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The numbers in local guides often key to a town map if one is provided. I still have a lot of old local guides and the maps can still be useful in an unfamiliar town – much better than trying to peer at a tiny screen.

    Liked by 1 person

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