That’s the first and last time I use the phrase “quoffing“.

Eagle-eyed readers will note yesterday’s Swansea programme from ’76 cost a staggering 12p.  Today, same division, just two years earlier, Darlo’s is yours for a shilling.

EVERYTHING cost a shilling in ’74, before the 3 day week and hyper-inflation heralded a Callaghan Government and punk.


That programme from Feethams was printed on a light pink paper that’s faded over 46 years in various garages and lofts. but which I will always associate with the town, just as you associate Maidenhead with total blackness.

Couldn’t even afford to print initials

Lovely little ground, which they were sadly coaxed out of by dreams of becoming the next Reading; instead they became the next Rushden & Diamonds.

The only interesting advert back in ’74 was for the department store.

Great font

Why is Binns important ?

“Urban Decay” is a brand rather than a prediction

Well, Simon told us last night about the only Guide entry in the car park of an Asda.

Binns made the GBG in the ’90s for its bijou off-licence, offering a curated range that would just about match our Tesco these days.  Not that I’m queueing half an hour to buy BrewDog cans from Tesco.

These days, you come to Darlington for one of the widest variety of Guide entries in any town.  Tapas bars, Snooker clubs, micros, classy alleyway bars and a couple of bona fide boozers.  The Sam Smiths ought to trouble the GBG, but doesn’t.

Old School tourist map

Stay in The Dalesman, between station and cricket ground, for the price of 3 pints of DIPA. I stayed in the local College a few years back for even less, one of the more terrifying nights of my life.

Classic clean, spacious guest house

Plenty of free street parking in the cobbled alleyways, though don’t park in this street.

You’re in The North

A proper Durham market town, with that pleasing bustle and feel of a town shared by gentlefolk and youngsters.

Eerie sky over the market
Home to the Quakerhouse

Get lost in “The Rows” and enjoy the edgy art.

“Still Ill”

You can still find Sam Smiths, Theakston AND John Smiths in Darlo, which alone makes it an essential visit. The Magnet is keg, but still shiny.

Bring back cask Magnet

Sadly, this blog hasn’t been to Britannia, No.22, the Quakerhouse or the Half Moon, so it’s pretty useless, but Darlington CAMRA aren’t.

Local CAMRA Guide click here

Only two newbies in the last six years, but the Orb Micropub was a corker.

Aren’t bay windows great ?
Bad Kitty

Superb Brass Castle, a straight NBSS 4, if a little TOO sweet for a Thursday.

Lovely owner/barman/raconteur, and a soundtrack including Teenage Fan Club, so I win. I also noted some young people having “fun”, which probably discounts it as a micro under current Herne rules.


Really chatty locals across the age ranges too, mostly about “snake rat” attacks, and a running gag concerning the Durham Magus I recount for Si’s benefit.

If he pronounces it “Ma-goooose” instead of “May-gus” when he gets there they’ll give him 5p CAMRA discount.  Seems fair.

Americans aren’t impressed by beer, of course.  They’ve got Pabst Blue Ribbon No, they want brown tiling, huge windows and weird fontage.

Undeniably uninviting

An all-rounder, with politely dressed youth and scruffy GBG tickers.

Table a;ert

I bumbled away from the high tables and the bar flies to the back room where a group had spent an evening dividing up the bill between them.

The foamy head was the highlight of the Wagtail. Sadly, Doom Bar was “coming soon”.

Handled jug

Talking of “coming soon“, the William Stead had tempting offers on the guest ales for the mobile crowd.

A good sign

If you stay over, you are legally obliged to have the Miners Benedict, as the black pudding is Bury standard.  That’s the Bury near Bolton, not the southern softie.





  1. I started bristling at the suggestion that anything cost a shilling in 1974: WE WENT DECIMAL! (On 15 February 1971 – “A day that will live in infamy”, perhaps? In the world-view of the more old-fashioned & conservative (small c!), of our readers, who are still living in the last millennium and yearn for imperial measurements?).Then I looked back up & it was 5p after all. Doh! I daresay you barely remember £sd, do you Martin?


    1. I had hoped, that people’s being deprived of real, big freedoms might make a few of them reflect on how silly they were in hyperventilating about losing imaginary or petty ones, like the right to swim in diluted sewage, or to buy Cornish Pasties made in Corby, and Wensleydale made in Wednesbury.

      It seems, looking around generally elsewhere, that I hoped in vain.

      I’ll stop looking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, Paul, relax with this. It’s the only full length version that I could find. It has a few Greek subtitles, but there’s hardly any dialogue anyway. Your school French will furnish what little one needs.

        I think that the fact of most countries’ quarantining us, on arrival on their soil, is likely to last longer, somehow 😉


    2. Clive,
      By “who are still living in the last millennium and yearn for imperial measurements” do you mean me who realises that the only good thing about the coronavirus is it bringing back proper imperial measurements as millions of workers are now being furlonged ?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And the lifting of the lockdown restrictions will probably start with us being allowed to use pubs within 220 yards of our homes.


      2. Well TSM, now you come to mention it…. 🙂 Do you in fact mourn the loss of groats, florins, crowns & guineas?

        Though it must be said, I certainly have some sympathy with speed (I always have to translate Aussie & Saffer bowling speeds into mph when watching cricket) but as I’ve bleated before, I know more or less what 100 metres looks like, so a hectare is a square one, but a day’s worth of ploughing being an acre? Eh?


      3. Clive,
        I well remember florins – and they carried on as 10p pieces for many years – but crowns were only commemorative coins – such as for Churchill’s death in 1965 – and guineas – except for auctions and horse racing – and groats were before my time.


      4. Fred,
        Yes, and those old silver threepenny bits and proportionately smaller 2d coins and pennies – but not I think this year.


      5. OK groats was a bit of poetic licence but I do have a vague recollection of farthings, though God knows what on earth you could buy with one, even then.


  2. I wonder if this blogpost is unique among your writings in that it includes references to three different sorts of Smiths: Sam, John, and The. 🙂

    I fear an awful lot of Americans these days seem only impressed with beers so hoppy you could use them to remove floor wax. But I do like the look of the Hole in the Wall, I can’t deny that!

    I think you’ve come up with a good album name there, if not a slightly-wordy name for a band: Too Sweet for a Thursday

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mark,
      If they’re “so hoppy you could use them to remove floor wax” they could probably be injected as a coronavirus cure.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I spent a few nights in Darlington in 2005, during which I visited the Beamish museum, but don’t recall any particularly memorable pubs. I remember taking advantage of “Chinese night” in Wetherspoon’s, which they don’t do any more,but for whatever reason never really explored the town much.


    1. It’s quite a compact town. You’d have enjoyed Britannia and Half Moon and Glittering Star (Sam Smiths) if you’d done them. Most Darlo Guide entries have been about 20 years, even the small bars that were precursors for micros.

      I have no recollection of “Chinese night” !


  4. “Binns made the GBG in the ’90s for its bijou off-licence” – yes, and the only other establishments I know to get in the GBG for their bottle conditioned beer – with Worthington White Shield listed although they also had Guinness – were some Northern Ireland pubs from 1991 to 1998.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love Darlo, proper town with proper people and proper pubs.

    Was every branch of Binns listed or just certain ones. i remember the Grimsby one before it became part of the doomed empire. Prior to leaning of today’s top fact, it was most know for featuring on Sunderland tram adverts very similar to the one shown in the Darlo programme.

    The two old grounds you have featured recently are both places I will miss fondly, indeed both have been the scene of happy days supporting City. Darlo were doomed that con artist took them to his mega bowl of self importance. It was always a stupid idea. I look forward to seeing us play them again, hopefully not at too low a level.

    As a request, please could you do a feature on your skills at finding cheap as chips accommodation. It is something I always fail miserably at, apart from on the Cockermouth Road in Swansea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, as Stafford Paul just said (I thought I’d replied but didn’t) just this Binns, where the manager had freedom to select some interesting beers.

      Cheap accommodation post is a good idea.


      1. Thanks. That explains why I have no memories of bottles coming from Binns. That said, bottles at home weren’t common when I was a kid, the only real memory of one being bought in my relatively early years was my Dad getting a bottle of Youngs Waggle Dance, along with probably a couple of others, in the local Asda supermarket.

        I do very occasionally have good ideas.


      2. No. If I wait 7 days before sharing the good idea I will either forget what the idea was or forget to share the idea. Sorry.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Tom,
        Yes “bottles at home weren’t common when I was a kid”, except milk bottles.
        And back then in the Midlands “Beer at home means Davenports” deliveries. That’s before ‘supermarkets’ were invented and when a town might have one off license in the high street.


  6. “EVERYTHING cost a shilling in ’74” – and you probably remember BOB A JOB WEEK with every year a Boy Scout knocking on your front door offering to do whatever you want for a shilling.

    Liked by 1 person

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