Let’s revisit Southport. Goodness knows, enough scallies have broken the lockdown to have picnics on the dunes along the Sefton coast this week. If you believe the media.
A bit of a bargain destination over the years, starting with a 2003 holiday at Pontins.
Now, a good test of the strength of a marriage is whether it can survive four nights in Southport Pontins in September. 17 years ago it was touch and go when Mrs RM saw the hell-hole I’d booked, but a shared acknowledgement of a bargain (£15 a night for a family of four) got us through.
Our then toddlers enjoyed the sand dunes at Formby as much as the DVD of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” that kept us sane that week.
A contrast between the grandeur of Lord Street and the grit of the arcades on Scarisbrick Avenue leading down to the pier. Some excellent toy grabbing machines for the purist.
That year I had cracking beer in traditional pubs like the Guest House and Cheshire Lines (conspiratorially, Tetley Mild from an unmarked pump).
Two years later I was back for a four goal thriller at the Haig (Avenue).
A year after Wimbledon were voted into the League (yes, voted), Southport lost out to Wigan when the latter’s pies were deemed superior to the fayre on Lord Street.
A trip to Southport remains a highlight for the Non-League Groundhopper (approach them with caution), but that 2005 programme is notable only for the support of the local Conservative Association.
Actually, just about the ONLY type of Guide entry not seen in Southport is the genuine social club. Surely the Cons Club deserves a chance ?
Away from pubs and pub football it’s the revamped Atkinson Art Gallery that really makes the trip from Wigan Wallgate or Liverpool Lime Street worthwhile though.
A beautiful building with a compact collection of social history that’s on a par with the one in Doncaster. You just knew Dan Dare had a local connection.
I used to work with the editor of the Eagle fanzine. What’s your claim to fame ?
rich ex-pro foootballers, penny arcades, beaches; Sefton Borough really is the new Thanet, for better or worse. And you know how I struggle to find entertaining things to say about micro pubs.
But I have nothing but warm words for Southport, looking resplendent from the window of my £27 B&B in 2018, my last visit.
For folk who like this sort of thing (possibly just me), here’s a list of all my Southport ticks, some 25 over a decade and a half. A real mix of Tetley boozers, hotel bars, bottle shops, Herne-compliant micros, Spoons, fun pubs and oddities.
Incidentally, that’s a very strong set of beer scores, where 1 = NBSS 3, 2 =3.5, 3 = 4+. Almost as the scores for chips and the Chinese takeaway (Tin Tin, NCTSS 4).
Baron’s Bar in the Scarisbrick Hotel didn’t have the very best of the beer, but it’s the place I’d start an Old Codger’s Proper Day Out.
“Two pounds ten please”
I gave her £3.10.
“TWO pounds ten !” Oh.
How do they do that ? It was cheaper than in the Spoons.
You’d think beer might have been expensive in the Lakeside Inn, self-styled “Smallest Pub In Britain“. At dusk in May in that endless Summer of 2018 it was perfect.
Is it the smallest. Who cares ? “Pubs” like Platform 3 and the Signal Box are merely serving hatches with outdoor seating, and other challengers like the Little Prince are mere market stalls with the focus on drinking outside the box, as it were.
Like the Nutshell, this is a Proper Pub, with proper seating round the walls and shiny tables. You can see the entire pub, and the dancefloor, from my seat.
One cheerful couple discussing other peoples relationships, one other boozer, one cheerful barmaid who helped me find a 5p I dropped on the floor having counted out my £3.30 to the penny. The Black Sheep was magical, as you can see.
I’ve spent too long in the Spoons over the years. I think there’s two of them, but I can’t be sure.
Amongst a lot of small seaside bars, Taps & Bottles felt more bottle shop than micro from the outside, and inside is one of the most pleasant seating areas in any micro. That cosiness was attracting a good range of custom, with pensioners cooing over the local stout.
Top marks to the chap for recommending the strongest beer, which was NBSS 4 but with my eyesight I can’t tell you more than that.
Which leaves me with the obligatory Peaky Blinders themed bar, cunningly called Peaky Blinders, giving visiting Brummies a touch of home.
I felt a tap on my shoulder from a man wearing braces, always a worrying moment.
“Is that one a dark beer then ?”
Being a beer sommelier Level 3, I was able to tell him that yes, it was a dark beer, as the pump clip was black.
And that’s the only problem with Southport; people insist on talking to you. Sort that out and it’ll be a Top 10 pub town.
NB Red Nev’s blog is the best source of info on Southport’s pub joys. Plenty of live music round here, always a good sign.