Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Recon of Ruddington

Due to a busy few weeks which have featured, amongst other things, Download Festival and a stag do trip to Budapest, I haven't had much time to get out and explore. However, with the unusual prospect of a Sunday off work, and Amy being off as well, we took it upon ourselves to have a wander from our home in Clifton into the neighbouring village of Ruddington to see what it's pubs had in store.
Ruddington is a village (twinned with Grenay, France) situated 5 miles (8.0 km) south of Nottingham in the Borough of Rushcliffe. It had a population of 6,441 at the 2001 UK census, increasing to 7,216 at the 2011 census.
An independent community, residents have previously conducted high profile campaigns in an attempt to retain the rural identity as a village and prevent it being subsumed into the adjoining suburban districts of Clifton and West Bridgford. Ruddington is also home to Rushcliffe Country Park, an area developed on the now decommissioned Ruddington Depot.
Ruddington once had a station on the former Great Central Railway (later part of the LNER), the last main line to be built from the north of England to London, opened on 15 March 1899. The station closed on 4 March 1963 but the line remained operational for passenger traffic until 5 May 1969 and for freight until 1974. The line was subsequently dismantled north of Ruddington, but the section south to Loughborough remains in existence as a heritage railway.
Ruddington is notable for being the home of three museums.
The Ruddington Village Museum features authentic Chemists, Ironmongers and Fish and Chip shops from the Edwardian era, all rebuilt part by part inside the building, which was previously the Ruddington Infant and Girls' School.
The Ruddington Framework Knitters' Museum is a unique complex of listed frameshops, cottages, and outbuildings arranged around a garden courtyard, together with a former chapel. The site has been restored to show the working and living conditions of the framework knitters who occupied it throughout the nineteenth century, and is one of the few places in Britain where you can see a working Framework Knitting machine.
Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre is situated adjacent to the Rushcliffe Country Park. There is a preserved stretch of the now defunct Great Central Railway line extending south to Loughborough. Also home to a Classic Road Transport collection, a miniature railway and many more attractions. The railway works every Sunday and bank holiday Monday from Easter to late October. There are plans to join this stretch to the preserved stretch of the railway from Loughborough to Leicester North.
As well as being a tiny hub of history, Ruddington also boasts 7 pubs although, as will soon become clear, we didn't quite make all of them! Our walk into the village was a pleasant one in boiling sunshine down the main road between Ruddington and Clifton. By the time we reached our first stop, we felt like we earned a pint. Our first stop was the Ruddington Arms.

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Formerly known as the Jolly Farmers, and owned by Star Inns, the pub was refurbished and renamed in 2014. It's modern open plan interior has been extended to the rear and features an enclosed courtyard. The bar is opposite the main entrance and is central to the main room with a curved layout. There is a snug like area to both sides of the door and there are artefacts from the past as well as a train map to local pubs. The bar features 4 handpulls which, at the time of our visit, include Well's Wonderful Wallop, Ruddy Good Ale (rebadged Caledonian Deuchars IPA), Castle Rock Harvest Pale and Theakston's Single Hop. Whilst Amy went for a pint of cider, I decided on the Wonderful Wallop (4.5%). This is a golden ale with aromas of sweet hops and honey. The taste is a refreshing combination of crisp fruit and gentle malt with a bitter finish. We took our pints, not to the rear courtyard, but to a small seating area outside the main entrance, between the pub and the curb. It was a very pleasant day and the temperature was balmy. I definitely wish that I'd decided to wear shorts instead of opting for jeans! It was a very enjoyable place to spend such a nice summer day and the beer was excellent. This had certainly been a good place to start the day's activities.

Finishing our pints in almost no time at all, we made plans to head to our next destination, which is only a few doors away, opposite the Clifton Road that runs directly between the 2 places. Now under new management, is the Victoria Tavern.

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The Vic, as it is locally known, is an archetypal village local with a quiet, cosy ambience and a generally more mature clientele. The inside lounge is quiet, carpeted and free of music. There is a separate bar area through an adjoining door to the inside right of the entrance. The bar features 4 handpulls, offering a choice of Draught Bass, Abbot Ale, Adnams Southwold and Young's Hummingbird. I opted for a pint of Hummingbird, which was met with approval by some regulars stood nearby. I could see why they were pleased. This is a refreshing golden ale, at 4.2%, with intense fruity aromas and flavours of passion fruit. We once again headed outside, this time to a rear garden area which featured low benches and a covered smoking shelter. We decided to sit under the shelter to get a break from the sun, although we hadn't really thought this through as the Perspex roof on the shelter considerably amplified the heat. Just as well that we had our pints to cool us down!

Our next stop for the day was further down the main road through the village and the first of 3 pubs that are situated in very close proximity to each other. On the junction of the Wilford Road and Easthorpe Street is the Red Lion.

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Another pub run by Star, the Red Lion is a two roomed corner pub with a central bar and was recorded as a public house in 1855 under publican Mrs. E. Smith. This would sadly prove to be the disappointment of the day's trip. None of the 3 handpulls were in use but were being used to advertise the 2 available ales, namely a gas driven Theakston's Mild and bottled of Old Peculier. I do enjoy a good bottle of Old Peculier so this was where my attention was immediately drawn. Purchasing one and clutching a pint glass, we headed out to the rear car park where a number of picnic benches provide external seating. The sun was truly beaming down now and there was no escape from it whilst outside. Although the ale range wasn't the best, the locals and stuff were friendly enough and there was the added humour of seeing a small dog urinate up the side of a mobility scooter.

Our next location was next door and sat adjacent to Easthorpe Street. This was the Red Heart.
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Originally a Shipstone's pub, the original pub sign still hangs outside. It was recorded as a public house in 1832 as the 'Red Hart' under licensed victualler Wm. Widdinson. Inside is a distinct bar area with tiled floors and basic furniture, whilst the more comfortable lounge is to the rear. The 3 handpulls offer us a choice between Doom Bar, Harvest Pale and Rosie's Pig Flat Tyre Cider. It was an easy choice for me as I chose Doom Bar. Amy went for a pint of Strongbow and we took our seats on a high table at an angle from the bar, opposite a TV showing live coverage of the cricket. The definite highlight of our time in this pub was being greeted by a huge but lovely dog called Nico, a malamute/husky cross. He definitely made visiting this pub worthwhile, so much so that we stayed for a second pint. The Doom Bar was in excellent condition. It was a refreshing change to sit inside on this occasion as we were both starting to feel the heat a bit.

The third pub in this small group was our next stop and this was just a couple of doors down. Doubling as an Indian restaurant, is the Three Crowns.
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Recorded as a public house in 1832 under victualler John Tyres, this is a modern single bar establishment. The name comes from the 3 chimney pots on the roof and is known locally as the 'Top House' due to its position at the end of the street of 3 pubs. The interior is light and airy with two separate seating areas at the front. The back room contains the Three Spices Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant which is open from 5.30 every day and even provides a takeaway service. The bar occupies one side of the room and features 6 handpulls, 4 of which are in use at the time of our visit. The beers on offer are Nottingham EPA, Totally Brewed Slap in the Face, London Pride and Blue Monkey BG Sips. It took me no time at all to select the BG Sips. I've spoken before of my love for Blue Monkey beers and this was excellently kept. We took our time with our beers here and got chatting to the bar man who was very knowledgeable about the beers and the pubs in the area. It's always nice when bar staff know their subject and are prepared to discuss it.

It was an excellent day so far and Amy and I were having a great time. The alcohol was starting to take effect but this was not about to deter us from our next stop, one which I had very much been looking forward to. Situated back on the main road through the village, on the junction with Kirk Lane, is the Frame Breakers.
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Formerly, the Bricklayers Arms, the pub was taken over by Nottingham Brewery in October 2015, since when it has begun to thrive again. The name is taken from the pub's proximity to the Framework Knitters' Museum and harks back to the Luddite movement where knitting frames were smashed by workers upset that machinery would take away jobs from manual workers. The pub itself is a large, three-storey corner building. Inside, there are low beams and plenty of wood furniture including a solid bar. The flooring is part tiled, wooden and carpeted. The open plan layout is occupied by settles and chunky furniture. Live music takes places at the rear and this is happening during our visit as a man named Joe Strange (whose band have played at work before) is currently playing an acoustic covers set. The bar contains 7 handpulls, mostly from the Nottingham Brewery as you'd expect but guests also feature. During our visit, the beers on offer are Foundry Mild (x2), EPA (x 2), Dreadnought and Rock Bitter with Nelson Press Gang as the guest. I swung for the Dreadnought whilst Amy went for Symond's cider and we grabbed a seat in one of the low settles. The Dreadnought was excellent and I'd forgotten how good it was. That's definitely a beer that I'll have to come back to more often. Amy had invited her dad and my future father-in-law Pete to join us and he soon arrived for a beer and a chat. It was nice to catch up with him and he even bought us a second pint each so you can't argue with that.

Our intention now was originally to go to the one remaining pub on the list, the White Horse, touted as one of the best in the village. However, a combination of copious beer, the heat and lack of food had meant that we flagging significantly and so instead decided that it was time to call it a day and wend our weary way home, entertaining ourselves with an impromptu karaoke session and thoughts of Chinese takeaway. It had been a very enjoyable day. Ruddington is a place with a real sense of community and a cracking variety of pubs. Whilst it is often mentioned in lists of places to visit for pubs, it's only when you visit a place in person that you can truly appreciate it. The beer range and quality is very good indeed and I have no doubt that Ruddington will continue to deliver fun experiences to both the casual and seasoned drinker. It can certainly be said that this particular village lives up to its reputation for 'Ruddy good ale'!