2 nights in Barrow Wetherspoons in late September. Taking a risk, but the Furness Railway has spotless rooms and free Shrewsbury biscuits, so who’s winning?

One new Guide pub I missed on my last visit, a traumatic Black Eye Friday when Ulverston lads woke me at 3am singing “Let it go”.

Technically Hawcoats, properly posh Barrow, or as posh as Barrow gets. Put it this way, Irish Sea Dave probably wouldn’t put it on his Top 10 Rough Pubs list.

Oh yes, the Kings Arms, nearly forgot. I love tucked away pubs with light illuminating tight streets.

I walked in, signed in, cleaned up.

Voices to the right, so I headed left. The Landlady headed left, I headed right. “She’s through there” said the lone customer, so I headed left, before deciding I’d better sit down before the Covid Marshalls turn up.

That little dance enabled me to at least glimpse the bar (4 beers!) and decide on something called Swan Black which I guess isn’t the Aylesbury one but I didn’t care.

Tasty, but a tad too warm, and not a word of conversation as lone local focused on Liverpool v Arsenal playing out a pointless season to a fake crowd.

Back at the Spoons, James had recovered from a close encounter with scary Ulverston cat and fancied the usual calorific pudding.

Ten minutes it took to queue, clean, download the App and complete the paperwork.

Just enough time to illegally look at the pumps.

Now Spoons have their critics, or rather Timbo does, but the lad who looked after us was a cheery gem, making sure I got my 50p discount on the Stringers Stout as you can’t use it on the App. I believe Dodo Harding is working on a world beating solution to this technical problem.

Salted caramel cookie dough and ice cream x 2 and one of the best pints of the month (NBSS 3.5) for about a fiver, as Spoons continues with some local discount now Rishi has deserted pubs.

Honestly, it doesn’t get much better. Unfortunately, we had to walk Scafell the next day..

23 thoughts on “BACK WITH A BANG IN BARROW

  1. Good point re distinction between Spoons and their owner. In my view it’s only since he started asserting his own political views – in the magazine, media etc – that the company started attracting so much negative attention. The pubs are never going to be everyone’s cup of tea but it seemed a strange move from a strictly business perspective. Most of their staff you encounter are hard-working and courteous, despite often being chronically under-resourced (in usual times).

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Luckily for him enough of his customers either don’t mind or agree with him. Doubt he would have risked using that platform in the earlier development of the business, though context was obviously different.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Spoons have long been sneered at and it predates Timbos brexit propaganda.

      A certain middle class discerning CAMRA type dislikes corporate chain pubs on principle. They prefer independent run micropubs that are all strikingly similar. That Spoons go out of their way to attract ale drinkers by making an effort annoys them. They can ignore the many chains that do nothing to attract ale drinkers and make a business of selling burger deals and 2 for 1 steaks.

      That spoons is nothing more than a system that appears popular enough to repeat on a national scale as it offers a value option to pretty much most people is lost on those looking for something to reinforce how discerning they are. Mass appeal is the opposite of niche.

      Timbos propaganda gives an excuse to dismiss the chain without laying oneself open to an accusation of snobbery. The magazines are there but no one makes you read it.

      Those same people are happy to drink in micropubs whose twitter feed may be a stream of hateful bile towards anyone unconvinced of the merits of Jeremy Corbyn.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right as (nearly) always, Cookie.

        Spoons high point with CAMRA was probably about 2001, when their beer festivals were better than most local branches efforts in sports halls, bringing in barrels of Rauchbuer from Germany and that nice Belgian beer on draught.

        Then micros happened, Spoons went mainstream, and Tim thought it was a good idea to inform his customers about important issues affecting their pubs as the BBC were totally incapable of imparting information.



      2. Could you let us have links to these streams of hateful bile from a couple of such micropubs, Cookie?

        I’d be tickled to read it.


        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes, I’d be quite keen to visit these Corbyn-friendly micropubs as my experience of their politics would be completely different, particularly in Kent and South London !


      4. Like most things, it’s not as absolute as that. Spoons has evolved it’s business in several phases. The first saw pubs – sometimes small – in the London area that were aimed squarely at ale drinkers, including those you describe. It was hugely popular with many CAMRA members, promoting a house style with good beer, no TVs, fruit machines etc. The second saw a rapid expansion in larger towns and cities that largely sustained that ethos, though in increasingly large premises.

        The third saw an expansion into smaller towns, many of which had little or no cask ale. In areas like Lanarkshire in my experience these were welcomed with open arms by CAMRA members. This coincided with a development of the business model aimed at a much wider clientele, with TVs, machines etc becoming the norm. Latterly there has been a consolidation with not much growth in terms of new outlets. Inevitably it has been harder to control beer quality over such a large estate.

        My point is that the chain moved away – for understandable reasons – from initially meeting the needs of ale drinkers to a broader, more profitable base, and in so doing inevitably became less attractive to some of the former.

        My point was that it is unwise to use your own business as a platform for your political stance, just as it would be for any micropubs to do what you describe (though I can’t think of any offhand that do that). Sure we can agree hateful bile has no place in society, on social media or otherwise. There must be a blogpost in all this but will leave that to you!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Enjoy these.

        it isn’t mixing politics with beer that beardies dislike. the right (or left in their case) kind of politics is okay.

        as to why timbo is pleasant to his opponents whilst his opponents are not, it all depends how convinced you are of your own virtue. whether you believe your opponent wrong or evil.

        check the micropub out. it’s not as pokey as many micropubs and is somewhat a clubhouse of the camra branch. before the rona the camra chairman gave talks there. if you like micropubs, there’s worse ones. i’ve only ventured in twice and would say it’s not as bad as many micropubs but far from my cup of tea

        Liked by 1 person

      6. ah gentleman
        i think i’ve realised why my reply is not showing
        it includes links to twitter comments
        I think thats why i’m unable to show you examples as requested
        pity, as theres lots more if you scan thru it


  2. “Irish Sea Dave probably wouldn’t put it on his Top 10 Rough Pubs list.”

    Nice pic just below.

    “before the Covid Marshalls turn up.”

    I think that’s a new show on ABC this fall; right after the FBI’s Most Wanted. 🙂

    “and not a word of conversation as lone local focused on Liverpool v Arsenal playing out a pointless season to a fake crowd”

    Hang on, you said ‘voices to the right’ earlier. Was he talking to himself, talking to the telly or talking to the landlady earlier?

    “and fancied the usual calorific pudding.”

    You can do that when you’re under 50. 😉

    “Ten minutes it took to queue, clean, download the App and complete the paperwork.”


    “I believe Dodo Harding is working on a world beating solution to this technical problem.”

    Indeed. It’s called ‘vaccine’. 🙂

    “Salted caramel cookie dough and ice cream x 2 and one of the best pints of the month (NBSS 3.5)”

    Cor. A stout with that desert sounds delish!

    “Unfortunately, we had to walk Scafell the next day..”

    Oh, oh…


    Liked by 1 person

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