Monday, 30 November 2009
Way Out West
Radcliffe is a suburb of Bury that borders the foreign lands of Bolton. Despite being only 2.5 miles from Bury, Radcliffe has a reputation as a strange place where the locals still worship the Norse gods and speak archaic languages. It’s the birthplace of Danny Boyle who embodies the dream of the some 34,000 residents who still live there: escape at any cost.
It’s also home to a number of pubs of dubious reputation, but which need documenting if the mapping of all of Bury’s pubs is to be complete. So, first stop was the Unicorn, the last pub within Radcliffe’s boundary. This proved a pleasant surprise with the pub advertising cask ales and delivering a cool, well kept pint of Hobgoblin, despite it being the first of the day.
It all went downhill from there, with the Turf, the Royal Oak, the Lord Raglan and the Flying Flute (the Horse Shoe as was) all delivering a cask free message in varying degrees of tattiness. The Colliers was particularly scruffy and, frankly, looked in need of fumigation. Things didn’t get much better in the centre of town. The ex GBG Bridge was doing a reasonable trade but has lost its cask Burtonwood beers.
Also reasonably busy, albeit it with an atmosphere of misery, was the miserable looking Woolpack. Lacking any atmosphere whatsoever or indeed customers, was the Wellington, which had an odd musty smell to it. Whilst the Old Tower, which could be most charitably described as needing some extreme TLC, merely had a stale piss smell. The Lock Keeper, a large modern build with a Wacky Warehouse attached, was much more comfortable, but still could only muster a few pensioners dining.
Luckily things started to improve on the way out of Radcliffe. There was some decent Holts in the Old Cross and in the Swan & Railway. The Swan is a cosy local and was just starting to get the Friday post work crowd in. Across the road, the long boarded up, ex Vaux, George looks closed for good. However, just a few doors up, the Staff of Life was very busy and this is another comfy local’s pub. Advertising cask, it had that seemingly Radcliffe staple-Holts on. Interestingly, yet again, the quality was high.
So it seems that Radcliffe is not quite the cask ale desert if you are prepared to seek it out. You can expect some decent beer in some decent pubs, but a taste for Holts Bitter is somewhat of a prerequisite.