Tuesday 2 January 2018

Rice Lane

I was a little concerned that a cold and wet Tuesday 2 January isn't the best time to survey back street boozers, and when i reached the Prince Alfred the shutters were down:
I'm not sure if this is still a pub, most of the signage is for function rooms and bed and breakfast.

Fortunately, a little further down Rice Lane the Prince Leopold was open:
A plain two-sided street corner boozer, the lounge side looked dark and I was the only customer in the bar side.  A sign outside said We sell cask ale, and they do!  I tend to distrust an unexpected hand pump in a plain boozer, but I decided to risk it and the Jennings Cumberland was spot on.  Two other customers came in while I watched telly and enjoyed a quality pint.  As I seem to say in nearly every pub nowadays, the place was spotless and well cared for.  (And so was the ale.)

Just across the side turning is the Bakery Inn:
In the one open room there's no sign of the "impressionist pictures" I commented on in 2003, just rather well done "ordinary" decor.  The fine ceiling plasterwork, picked out in gold, could be original, or modern-ish fake.

A lot more popular that the Leopold, there were about a dozen other drinkers, mostly chatting and laughing.  I notice they sell Sam Smith's Alpine Lager 2.8%, might as well have a fizzy water!

As I swigged my Guinness, I eyed up the vertical pole in the middle of the room.  Was the ceiling in danger of coming down?  I recall the sadly missed Bree Louise in London, which had an "Acrow" prop holding up the ceiling for many years.  But no, this one was chromed, with a small stage at the bottom, so presumably for pole dancing.  I don't know if that sort of thing still goes on in backstreet pubs, I remember one of the pubs in Vauxhall (The Goat, I think, now closed.) used to have "exotic dancers", but never when I was there.   Honest.

I walked on along Rice Lane, past the Plough, which looks like it's only function rooms now, and a couple of former pubs - The Oakfield Inn (Couldn't find it) and the Prince Of Wales, now a hotel.  Eventually I reached the Northcote Bar:
This used to be the Shamrock Bar, and before that Raffles.  Inside I found well done plain modern decor with a 3-sided counter in the middle of the room.  Four regulars were chatting and mostly ignoring the racing on the telly.

Next, on in the gloom and rain to the Prince Arthur:
Wow!  With a great ceramic exterior (Somewhat marred by Sky banners) and a well preserved interior, this place is deservedly Grade II listed.  Inside, it's wonderful:  The lounge and a drinking corridor are served from hatches in the leaded stained glass bar back.  The corridor and the bar side have beautiful ceramics on the walls.  If this gem was in the city centre it would be nationally famous, but out here in the sticks it's only visited by locals and the occasional pub architecture aficionado.

The walls of the lounge room are completely filled with pictures, on various themes - The corner where I sat had football teams, Liverpool architecture, Mohamed Ali, Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe. 

Of the pubs I've done today, this was the busiest - plenty of regulars in both bar and lounge sides creating a cheerful hubbub - and also the warmest.  I was called upon to confirm the symbols on one of the locals' scratch cards, because he couldn't read them without his glasses.  Sadly it wasn't a winning card - I might have got a drink out of it!

Finally, the Queen Victoria at the end of Rice Lane finished my survey.  A very dimly lit two room boozer, quieter than the Arthur but still ticking over.  Once again, racing on the telly with no-one watching.   

Opposite the Queen Victoria was a bus stop whence I headed back to Liverpool.

It was difficult to spot pubs in the wet through misted up bus windows but I could see County Road features a number of places in need of a visit, and the Wetherspoon's is covered in scaffolding.

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