Drum roll, please. The Fusilier on Bolton Road West appears to be just that pub. This is a boozer that has been so long off not just the real ale radar, but most people’s radar, that it’s hard to recall when it was actually any good. In fact some people have grown up without ever visiting it. I can recall the good old days, but I think my mother was pushing a pram at the time. Yes, it’s fair to say that this manky, smelly, rough hole seemed destined to go to the great pub scrapyard in the sky. And deservedly so. But then what location, location, location? Perhaps all it needed was some TLC?
So imagine everyone’s surprise when local gossip Uncle Albert reported that the jungle drums were saying that real ale had retuned big time to the Fusilier. A scout was duly despatched and when he confirmed the news; it was time to schedule a visit. In the meantime I had confirmation from the good folk at Allgates that it was serving not one but two of their fine ales. News that a pub had premier league Allgates brews on sent the local bush telegraph into meltdown and soon the big guns were charging there faster than a Liberal Democrat can change policy.
And what a treat awaited us. The place is totally transformed. Dare I say pleasant, even? And the team behind it are Wigan Pier Pubs & Brewery which seems to consist of Mick and his trusty sidekick Simon. Mick filled us in with their plans for global domination whilst Si, a very knowledgeable landlord of the old school, kept us regaled with tales from behind the bar. A very clever trick that as it forced us to keep drinking. Not so much a hardship when you have two Allgates, Wainwrights and 2 guests to choose from. And not crappy ones, either, but good stuff like Crouch Vale.
The plan with the Fusilier was quite simple: back to basics. So the first thing to do was put clean, working toilets in for, as Mick said, women won’t go somewhere where the toilets are unhygienic. And call me fussy, but I prefer a non-smelly, clean lavatorial experience myself. Next the pool table, taking up space and the scene of many fisticuffs, went. And so it went on. Now you’ve got a cosy, comfortable local selling quality ales. Simples, eh? They’re taking it slowly. Trade is building organically through word of mouth; the website will be going live and food will also be making an appearance.
Oh and don’t forget the prices. The Allgates goes for £2.40 a pint and the guests £2.50. Pricing so reasonable that even Uncle Albert, who has his wallet clasp superglued shut, was impressed. It’s early days yet but all the signs are that the Fusilier will be a very significant presence on the local pub scene before too long.
Now if only they would open that second pub a little closer to me...