Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Bears Head Brereton Part I

Wednesday 26th September

Hi Everyone, Steve here…

Well, we’ve started. After all the expectation we finally made our first visit to one of the pubs on our list. It turned out to be a strange day really.

We arrived at the pub in Brereton (apparently it’s pronounced Bree-aton) around 3.30 and went straight into the bar and ordered a pint, Clint had spoken to the “assistant manager” about our visit a couple of weeks before, and asked if she could speak to some locals, gather a bit of interest, ready for our arrival. Turns out, the “assistant manager” hadn’t said a word, to the locals, or the bar manager. No one knew we were coming…

This was a bit of a disappointment to say the least. The “Bar Manager” was obviously very busy but we did our best to extract any info out of him, with little success. He’d only been there for about a year and came from Stockport so wasn’t local and couldn’t really tell us much. He was polite and pleasant but not too interested.

The pub itself is a very picturesque Olde Worlde building, set in beautiful country surroundings. It is part of a chain of pubs called Vintage Inns, which run some 200 old pubs around the country. Vintage inns must have picked this place because of its excellent character and beautiful Tudor exterior, which then begs the question why some bright spark has added a barracks, sorry, hotel, on the side of it. Personally, I think the hotel plugged on looks shocking, ruining a brilliant old building. The pub has a build date and lords initials over the door; 1615, WMB for William Brereton. So seeing the extension does take the shine away. Inside, it’s a lovely, comfortable eatery; plenty of tables, all expertly laid out so one table doesn’t interfere with another. Very little bar space due to mock (?) timbers separating bar from seating, just enough room to order your food, then bugger off back to your seat. All things considered, it’s a nice place to be.

Yeah, it’s a nice place, The only problem is, apart from buggering off back to your seat, I got the impression that, once you’d finished your meal (which was quite good),  the staff weren’t bothered if you buggered off altogether!!!!

So, there are a couple of things I want to mention before we go on, I’ve just read this back, and it does seem pretty negative. Thing is, I enjoyed starting our adventure, and overall, had a good night, it’s just me personally. I wanted to see a line of old boys, lined up at the bar, each with a tale to tell, and then listen to his mates call him a bare faced liar, watch the beer flow, tell my own tales, make new friends, and toasts to good health. The issue I have with our first visit, while enjoyable, was that it was all very clinical, very professional, no warmth, no soul… maybe a by-product of big business moving in, removing the bar stools, and drafting in a hotel manager to run a pub. Either way, this “Olde Inn” could’ve been a new city centre pub anywhere in the country, faceless, cold… But I enjoyed it!

Yet, we understand why it has to be like that. Brereton village consists of a couple of streets and a few rural houses. If the pub had to depend on the locals to keep the place open as a proper drinking den, it would have closed years ago. There are just not enough people in the area. Shame…

Anyway, after a less than encouraging start we remained positive as we were due to meet Alistair, a member of the Parish Council, at the pub between 6 and 7pm. So we ate around 5 on our isolated table, were finished for 6 and sat waiting full of expectation!!

Then another disappointment. At around 7.30 we had a mail from him explaining that he wouldn’t be able to join us as his daughter had given birth that afternoon and he was at the hospital. (Our congratulations and best wishes to him, his daughter and new grandchild)

So there we sat. Nobody drinking at the bar. No interest from the manager. Now no local historian (although he did have a good excuse). We sort of resigned ourselves to just drinking ourselves into a stupor.

I had my laptop with me, so we proceeded to map out the rest of our adventure, writing off the evening as a bit of an anti-climax. During the evening I had had a couple of polite interactions with the people on the adjacent table, So, feeling brave, I just stood up, grabbed my dad’s collection of cards, walked over to their table, and introduced myself. Turns out, this was the best move of the night, as one of the couples had lived in Brereton for 60 years, and have been regulars to the Bears Head in the past.

 More on that in the next blog…


  1. Very interesting post. I suspect you will find that most of the inns featured on the cards are now mostly given over the dining, to be honest. Pubs where you find a line of old boys at the bar do still exist, but they will be the small, unassuming ones that would have passed under the radar fifty years ago.

    1. very true, while researching the list on google, a couple of them are exactly that, under the radar, little drinking dens, and i think we'll have a great time when we visit them, although, it might not make good reading if we have too good a night and cant remember anything!