Friday, 14 April 2017

Where's Humph When You Need Him?


One thing that can generally be said about Sam Smith's pubs is that while they are often rather bare looking, they are always spick and span.  That's a good thing. A nice clean pub means, in the main, nice clean beer.

The Corporation Inn is a pub I've noticed before when on my way to the nearby Curtain Theatre in Rochdale, or the odd time when sampling the delights of the curry shops on Milkstone Road, but I've never been in before.  This predominance of eateries, sari shops, kebab houses and small grocers, tells you that the pub is in an Asian dominated area, relevant only because they don't tend to frequent the boozers. (Well not officially anyway, though one hears tales.) But I digress. On a windy and wet night recently, I popped in.  Now the pub has the usual Sam's job lot of paint and no sign of ownership. Well I say popped in, but I couldn't open the door. From within came a chorused shout of "LATCH". The penny dropped and I lifted the latch and stumbled in. Three grinning faces met me. I reckon they'd observed this scene playing out a number of times, but were still enjoying it. As I would if I was them.  I sussed out one was the landlord, the other his better half and a sole customer stood at the bar.  In a small side room half a dozen other denizens were playing crib - another regular feature of Sam's pubs - and the whole place smelt strongly of cigarette smoke. I reckon the smoking area was directly outside this room, but it was so gloomy I couldn't see exactly where.

I scanned the lit plastic boxes before me, their false brass edges tarnished by years of neglect. Behind the bar I could see a room with various junk. It wasn't exactly tidy this place.  I chose Dark Mild. "Haven't got any" quoth the barman, a sort of Chauceresque rogue. The other choices were Taddy Lager, Cider or Old Brewery Bitter. "Why not have one of each? suggested my bar companion. Deciding to disregard that advice I had a pint of OBB. It was fine.  "Heading for the station?"  I replied in the affirmative, not feeling it wise to say "No actually, I've just come for a nose at you lot and your manky pub".

Looking behind me there was a rather soulless room on the left as you come in with nobody in it and on the right a carpeted and benched seating area which had two customers. One, a fairly young woman sat on her own with a half of lager, while the other, older guy sat reading his paper and supping his pint.  The landlord and his wife had gone to watch the crib players. My fellow barfly asked me what train I was getting, which put me in a difficult position, as I wasn't. This is how lies multiply, but in for a penny, I said I was meeting someone there and that seemed to satisfy.

Nothing else happened. The crib players hadn't looked in my direction once. Nor had the woman or the newspaper reader. My bar mate was lost in his own thoughts and as my pint went down, the landlord returned and watched hopefully, no doubt willing me to have another. When I finished and didn't I was given three goodbyes as I left, not forgetting to keep up appearances by turning left to the station, even though it was quicker to go right.

I again overlooked the bloody latch on the way out, but nobody shouted this time.



This pub reminded me or an old Liverpool boozer or two from 30 years ago. A few locals and year upon year of neglect. Pity, as actually with a few touches and a good clean, it could be a lot more appealing.  Wonder if Humph would approve? I suspect not, but it was a pub where you are treated well enough and that's not so bad at all.

The pub sign was flickering epileptically as I took the photo. Apparently this is not a recent thing.

13 comments:

Curmudgeon said...

I wouldn't say the ones in Stockport and North Cheshire are remotely bare-looking - plenty of pictures on the walls :-)

Tandleman said...

Oh there's pictures but still feel bare imo.

Matt Howgate said...

Another great read. Don't know if you are aware but Humphs lad, Sam, had the authorisation to upgrade the 'admiral hawk' in Boston Spa. The new fit out is in a much more modern tone, and looks great! Maybe a sign of things to come.

Curmudgeon said...

Not sure what time of day you're going in these pubs, but do you think they're ever busy, or just subsist all the time on slim pickings?

The Boar's Head on Stockport Market Place will be standing room only by noon today - do Sam's have a pub in Rochdale in a similar central location?

kevin webster said...

The Corporation's definitely busy on Saturday afternoons.

kevin webster said...

And Mudge, The Roebuck in Rochdale is, although a bit tucked away, in the centre of town, just off Yorkshire St at the bottom end.

Cooking Lager said...

These pictures you paint do seem to be of a moment falling into history. Of a past preserved for a fleeting moment of the present with closure inevitable due to decline and poor custom.

I don't dispute your experiences but it is at odds with my own observations of Sams pubs as pubs that are most often rammed due to pricing and maintaining a type of traditional pub type that appears all but disappeared.

Tandleman said...

Matt: Good to hear from you. Well, I suppose all things change in time, but I like the old ways personally.

Tandleman said...

Mudgie: What Kevin said.

ElectricPics said...

My local Sams pub - Prince of Wales, North Shields, is always busy from Thursday until Sunday, but has a healthy teatime trade earlier in the week. My experiences of a fair chunk of the estate is a bit of a mixed bag but generally they buck the trend of declining trade.

mike yates said...

How many have cask on?

Tandleman said...

None Mike. I will say if they have.

Tandleman said...
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