April 2023.

Sticking to the knitting now; trips to unsung English towns with some pics of old buildings and adverts for enticing events you’ve already missed.

Not sure why Colchester is unsung, but it surely is.

Rather like the whole of Essex (except Grays, obvs), Colchester is a real 3.5 of a town. Which means “very good”, if perhaps not quite good enough to make you change your plans, if you even have plans.

New GBG pub (first since 2019) the Magnet sits 5 minutes the railway station following a decision by North Essex CAMRA to make the Beer Guide easier for BRAPA to tick.

So let’s do that first before we see the historic town centre, just in case it closes early for an awards ceremony/private party.

Though to be honest, Essex pub opening times are as reliable as the beer quality and the welcome and Hear’say.

In the Magnet, though, we get what Americans will know as “New Wave”.

The Magnet calls itself a “micropub”, and in these genre fluid days we can call ourselves what we want, but the Greene King sign on the wall reveals a previous incarnation as a “Proper Pub”, and there’s not very much here in common with the Herne Rules, thank goodness.

It’s a very, very good little pub, smart and welcoming just as Essex folk like.

Three pumps seems about right. I choose the middle one cos it’s in the middle. Switch Back from Howling Hops.

Nice to get back to some proper British murk after a week of that Balkan pils. The Mauldons glass isn’t quite as bad as the Adnams one, either.

Musically, we move from 1978 to 1979 (“Making Plans For Nigel“) and a bloke whistles along to “Heart of Glass“, which you don’t get in Brunning & Price, I can tell you.

Mrs RM would love it.

The road into town takes you past more excellent free houses,

but it’s the pargetting and reflections on the River Colne I’ve come to see.

Colchester is ancient, of course, it’s been here 4.54 billion years, though creationists may have a lower figure in mind.

The Marquis of Granby was built in 1520 in anticipation of a pub ticking “craze” that took a further 453 years to arrive.

Conversely, I’m nine (9) days too late alerting you to Cushti.

And I’m 14 years too late for the Stockwell Arms, too,

the last pub in the lovely Dutch quarter.

Use ’em or lose ’em, folks.

Someone should suggest that as a slogan at next week’s Sheffield CAMRA AGM, rather than “let’s reorganise again”.


      1. Well, quite a few “micropubs” meet the criterions for being a Proper Pub these days.

        Comfortable seating, regular hours, regular customers, agreeable décor etc.

        Is being a Safe Space for conspiracy theory loudmouths de rigueur these days?

        So why not?

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Colchester has been in many of our trip plans, but we have never made it there. For foreign visitors flying in the location works against it. Not close enough to the airports to make it a trip ending location; Not far enough from the airport to make it a good starting point. When you compare the sites to places like Lincoln, Chester and York it stands up to the comparison pretty well. It’s no Sheffield or Waterbeach though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure you asked me about that when you came to Maldon and I had to say it wasn’t essential, though you’d find good architecture, a castle, two good museums and some very good pubs. Odd that’s not enough to make it as essential as Maldon.


    2. Dave,
      I’ve seen more “No Squaddies” signs on pub doors in Colchester than anywhere else – but am not sure if that’s encouraging or not.
      I had a night there in 1974 and in 1987.


  2. The Magnet is good with its background Music

    When I was last in there it as Captain Beefheart and John Cale

    I miss the Railway Hotel Southend which would play the most dissonant Gentle Giant and Van De Graff Generator at opening time

    Apparently this met with Wilkos approval as it was angry prog not the hippie stuff he despised

    Liked by 1 person

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