I started my New Ferry research in the Cleveland Arms
Inside I found a well cared for pub with a popular bar room partly knocked through into a side room, and there's also a pool room at the rear.
The decor is plain, well done and well maintained, much the same as last time I was here.
I was surprised to see two hand pumps serving Brimstage brews, so with some trepidation I selected Trappers Hat. "A man of taste" commented the bar fly. The ale was spot on, a great start to the day.
Back in 2003 I wrote that the jukebox was too loud, I was just about to note that that no longer applied when someone turned it up! The lively chatter of the regulars was mostly drowned out by the music.
It was raining gently as I left, and in the 50 yards to the next pub this turned to a torrential downpour, so I dashed to the door of the Wirral Hotel
, this picture was taken on the way out:
My guide entry from 2003 was somewhat disparaging; "A scruffy one bar pub with a deafeningly loud karaoke". I'm pleased to report it's nothing like that now, spotless decor with a rather attractive rough wood theme, and the music was at exactly the right level. A handful of locals were keeping the place going, cheerful chatter mixing with Duran Duran.
It's a little surprising that two pubs can survive so close together, but both seemed to be deservedly doing OK on a Thursday evening.
At this point my plans began to unravel. The next target, Shillings
, had a big sign on the door saying PRIVATE MEMBERS CLUB, so that's one off the list, and a big bloke lounging in the entrance meant I didn't dare take a picture. A few doors down, Alice's
had the shutters down:
I'm not sure whether it's closed permanently, but it looks like it to me.
On the other side of the road, I already knew the Farmers Arms
had been closed for some years and is now an Indian Restaurant:
So, I headed to Wetherspoon's John Masefield
Also known as Adolph's Place, perhaps because the pictures of the eponymous John which adorn the menus show him with a Hitler-style toothbrush moustache - surely Charlie's (Chaplin) would be more tasteful.
Cultural Insert: John Masefield 1878-1967 was a poet. His most well known lines are probably "I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky".
It was fairly busy, but with tables available, and I settled down to enjoy a spot on pint of Pendle Witches' Brew.
Now, a particular reason for me visiting New Ferry was to tick off Freddie's Club, one of the few Good Beer Guide entries in Merseyside I've never been to, but it doesn't open until seven on a Thursday, so suddenly I was an hour ahead of schedule, and having saved the Railway by the station for the homeward journey I had run out of pubs. Should I hang around here for an hour and a half, or take a walk somewhere?
I decided on the walk, and headed towards Rock Ferry. The problem with going off plan is I hadn't pre-checked Streetview, and I must confess to a sinking feeling as I turned off the main road onto a side street which had new houses on both sides - surely the pub has gone, and I've never ticked it.
But wait, what's that in the exact place of the blob on my map. Yes!! The Derby Arms
is still there and it's still a pub:
The interior consists of a number of areas partially knocked through around the servery. All have excellent restrained decoration, creating a comfortable ambience.
Unfortunately there were only a few customers in, I really hope they get enough to keep the place going. Maintaining the interior to this quality can't be cheap.
A bonus tick I wasn't expecting today. Should I walk on and get another? Why not... So I strolled to the magnificent inter-war roadhouse that is the never visited Kings Arms
Inside, nothing original remains, it's a pleasant modern "Hungry Horse" outlet, doing a roaring trade with a 50/50 mix of drinkers and diners.
I perched on a high seat near (but not blocking!) the counter and swigged my beer. I browsed the menu and I must say under eight quid for fish and chips is good value nowadays.
A further walk took me to the prime objective of the day, Freddies Club
Would it be open? Would it have decent real ale? Would I be allowed in? The sign "Private members club" didn't bode well, and having ignored that, the empty room with barmaid and one customer wasn't promising either, but in fact the answer to all three questions was absolutely Yes.
One large pleasant main room with bar counter, plus a side room from which I could hear the clack of pool balls, constitute this rather fine social club/pub.
My pint of something from Brimstage was excellent, and once again I was complemented on my taste by the resident bar fly! (Not the same one.)
How do you provide quality real ale in a quiet place like this? Or maybe the question we should be asking is, if they can do it why can't other places?
I enjoyed my tasty pint in the peace and watched cricket on the large screen.
With the new Good Beer Guide out in a week or so, I wonder if this will still be in. Judging by my single sample I would say why not?
I think we will gloss over the incident as I departed. Eh? Oh, alright, if I must: While I enjoyed my excellent pint, a couple came in with a dog. After she'd served the humans, the landlady put out a bowl of water for the dog. When I'd finished my beer I returned my glass to the bar and then turned towards the gents. Unfortunately, I trod on the water bowl, spilling most of it on the carpet and the rest up my trouser leg. How embarrassing! Profuse apologies all round! I blame the dog.
Time to head for the station to go home. But hang on, what's this? I walked past before and completely failed to notice Charlie's Bar
A plain nicely done corridor bar, this, with a number of locals sitting at the counter. No-one behind the counter, they shouted and eventually someone interrupted their smoke break to serve me.
The clean modern decor is well done in here, and the regulars were obviously enjoying their chatter with the staff.
Finally, back towards the station and a strategic toilet break before the train home, in the Railway Inn
Well, what an unfair designation "toilet break" is for this pub! They serve quality real ale and I had another Trappers Hat in a very comfortable open knocked through one bar pub.
Gentle background music mixed with chit-chat from the many Thursday evening customers.
It was (well past) time to go home as I reflected on a very successful day with eight pubs ticked, four for the first time. And about four miles walked.
Coming soon: Crosby.