Saturday 4 May 2024


A bus carried me under the Mersey for a second consecutive Saturday, this time to the little area of Claughton.  I commenced my research in Houlihan's:


A comfortable friendly cheerful boozer with plenty of happy customers at half one on a Saturday.  The barman called me "young man", always a bonus nowadays.  That rings a bell;  did he say the same thing six years ago? 

I have a vague recollection that it was quite dark in here last time I came, either my memory is wrong or they've changed things because it was pleasantly light despite the heavy grey overcast outside. 

Footie was on the telly, from Ipswich.  I was amused to see that the camera positions were rather unsatisfactory and when the crowd raised their hands to salute a goal they obscured half the picture.  If I were one of those fans and I knew about this I would be making rude signs, or a bunny rabbit silhouette.  

As I had entered Houlihan's I could hear very loud rock music emanating from the Claughton Hotel across the road.  Was I going to be deafened?

The noise in the street was terrible (From a sound level point of view, that is; there was clearly some talent in this band.) but it was from upstairs and was almost inaudible in the comfortable pub interior. 

I took another Carling round to the empty rear area where there was plenty of space.  For the second time today the pub seems nicer inside than my recollection from 2018, has it been nicely refurbished since then or perhaps I was just having a grumpy day last time.  Actually, perhaps both are true; apart from some nasty mould in one corner the decoration here is immaculate.  They really need to fix that leak, though, there's even some fungus growing under a picture frame.

The windows here have some old leaded stained glass perhaps from a 1930s refurbishment, some have been re-glazed over the years and I think all the front windows are plain glass.

Next, the pub I felt was most likely to be a fail on today's excursion.  Tucked away up a quiet side street is the Heather Brow:

Happily my fears were unwarranted and it was open.  On my previous and first visit I described this as a hidden gem, and there's no reason to change that assessment.  A beautiful classic. 

Plenty of customers were sitting at the counter, I took my third Carling and headed to the empty back room. The decor here is plain, traditional and very well maintained. 

I can't enthuse enough about this wonderful boozer, all it needs is real ale to make it perfect.

Ipswich were celebrating promotion on the screens, having won the match I was watching in Houlihan's.  Poor old Birmingham went down another level despite winning.  Why is this all happening when it's not even three o'clock?

Piped music, perhaps a little loud in the empty back room, mixed with conversation from the much more popular front rooms. 

Eventually a couple of regulars joined me to make the room seem less empty.  They spent a lot of time fiddling with the jukebox, after which some rather good Talking Heads was followed by more quality 80s stuff, I'm sure I heard her suggest "Stupid Cupid" but I must have misheard, or perhaps she was joking.

Having completed Claughton I caught a bus back towards Birkenhead, jumping off at the Queens:

I've never been sure how much of this giant building is still a pub.  I entered by the front door into a large open one room boozer with a long counter behind which no less than four barmaids were busy pouring drinks.  The room was reasonably busy but not packed enough to justify the staff.  The decor in here, plain well done traditional with a dark wood counter front and bar back - all repro I think - looks very good. 

I took my Carling to the raised area at one end of the room where I sat alone, overlooking the rest of the space.

My inaccurate recollections again, probably, I had this in my mind as a bit of a dump, certainly not true today.

I could hear music and speech from behind a door and people kept coming in and out that way, so I concluded there was some kind of a function in there.  So all of the building is probably still in use.  Should I sneak through to have a look?  I didn't.

A couple of unobtrusive tellies were showing racing with one of two of the regulars watching closely.  I was interested to note two vacuum tube TVs on the porch roofs, you don't see many of those nowadays.  The one facing me was not working, I imagine both are long dead but too much effort to remove.  (I remember when I got rid of my last tube telly I had to get a friend round to help me lift it and take it to the dump.  Thanks, John.)

It would be foolish to leave this end of Birkenhead with one overdue visit so I walked down to the Crown for a fifth tick:

When I first came here back in the 1990s it was something of a real ale destination but not long after they gave up cask.  Moving on nearly thirty years, the wonderful interior remains along with ten well polished handpumps on the counter, but no real ale now so a fifth Carling for me. 

I retreated to the rather good side room, which has a pool table surrounded by very well done bench seating and dark walls enlivened with brewery mirrors.  It really is beautiful in this pub, if only they could bring back the cask...

A gang of five or six women were occupying the pool table, they were enjoying their afternoon without being excessively noisy nor disturbing the rest of the clientele.  I think many other groups of women could, and should, learn from this!  Fortunately they ignored the old bloke in the corner typing on his tablet.

Five Carlings, five overdue ticks, time for home.

Pub of the day: Heather Brow
Beer of the day: Carling
Miles walked: 1.2
Maybe coming soon: Kirkdale, Bebington

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