Around the Town in 50 Pubs

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Photograph: Simon Cocks

There are a lot of pubs in Lancaster – some might say a daunting number of pubs. To hardened returners (used to the variety of places to give their liver a beating) this is an accepted fact, but if you cast your mind back to first year, you may remember being vaguely terrified about the sheer volume of names proffered by your fresher’s reps. This series of articles, therefore, is an effort to provide some education as to the nature of Lancaster’s many pubs and also to provide three slackers with an excuse to drink too much too often.

Each establishment will be rated on the ‘Potts Scale’ which attempts to assess each pub in ten key categories: cheap lager, ale selection, pool tables, sport and arguably most importantly, the presence of a pub dog. Our first set of pubs constitute a route roughly from our house to Sugarhouse (assuming that the pathfinding being used is that of a drunk person.)

The Robert Gillow – 7/10

The Gillow is a relatively small establishment located just off King Street/Meeting House Lane Junction, and on the penultimate day of the Lancaster Music Festival this venue was jam packed. The upstairs section less so – it made for a rather intimate setting where some slightly out there folk musicians played. This wasn’t a one off either, The Gillow is home to regular live music events and its rustic feel makes it a great place to experience the more obscure ends of the musical spectrum. Boasting an ale selection as well, this may sound like the perfect place, but expensive lagers and the lack of beer garden held this pub back a little. Despite this, The Robert Gillow is a fantastic venue, especially if you’re going for music or atmosphere.

Merchants 1688 – 6/10

On the night, Merchants was a much quieter venue. It definitely scores points for setting (it was previously the castle wine cellar) making it a very unique place to enjoy a pint or two. An extensive food menu and a fine ale selection brings the score of this historic pub up. However, its lager price brought it down; an extortionate £3.50 for Fosters. Lack of pool tables and live sport perhaps suggested this is a place to be visited more for the atmosphere or one of the delicious meals on offer. Had the scoring system not been devised by poor students, it may have scored higher.

Ye Olde John O’Gaunt – 7/10

John O’Gaunt can be found just on Market Square and from the outside looks like a very small pub indeed, however stepping inside you find yourself in a reasonably sized establishment. The pub features some of the most eclectic wall furniture in town and even a pub dog, at last! Lager was still expensive (you may as well opt for a nicer lager for a few pennies more), and there was still no pool table. but the first television of the night was sighted to much excitement.

The Bobbin – 10.5/10

Located in between the bus station and Sainsbury’s, this Mitchell’s pub is probably the best known of this edition. As we entered, Lancaster indie royalty Lake Komo happened to be playing. The Bobbin is a spacious pub, with a remarkable selection of booze at affordable prices. Scoring very highly on the ‘Potts Scale’ due to the presence of pool tables, live sport on the numerous flat-screen TVs, a beer garden and once more, regular live music. The fact that no food was offered meant The Bobbin missed out on a few points.

The Yorkshire House – 6/10

A famous venue amongst the alums of RocSoc. The two floored building – the bottom a more traditional pub and the top a room for the extensive live music catalogue to play out – has an initial aroma of sweat and Jägerbombs which resulted in a negative score from the off. The Yorkshire House did however meet many of the ‘Potts Scale’ requirements including a beer garden, ale selection, good prices and furniture comparable to that one might find in one’s grandparent’s living room. Table football in place of a pool table didn’t merit a score for the requirement, but despite this and the initial scent The Yorkshire House was an enjoyable visit.