Annan – Blue Bell Inn


Annan isn’t a place that I had expected to visit, but various circumstances combined and it seemed wrong not to visit a Good Beer Guide pub which also has a CAMRA historic interior. For me, knowing that Annan is where Thomas Carlyle was educated was excitement enough, but Liam and Ross seemed slightly less enthused by the whole arrangement.


There’s wood panelling throughout which is a legacy of when this pub was part of the Gretna State Management Scheme. There were three of these schemes in the UK which were designed for the state to take control to ensure that local defence workers didn’t get too drunk. They were successful in their aim and there were schemes in Carlisle, Gretna and Enfield, although the latter was short lived. They lasted from 1916 until Edward Heath’s Government privatised them, bringing the scheme to an end in 1973.


There’s more about the pub’s traditional look on CAMRA’s web-site. It has a long history, it has been standing since 1770 and was for a long time a popular coaching inn. It stands at a prominent location near to the entrance to the town and was built by William Stewart, a vintner from Lockerbie.


There were three real ales and a cider to choose from. The service was polite although it was evident that this was a community pub where much of the trade was from locals, but it didn’t feel unfriendly. With no disrespect to Annan, I’m not entirely sure how many tourists they get, there did seem some slight surprise when we entered. But, perhaps they just thought Liam looked odd, who knows….


I went for a pint of the Swan Blonde from Bowness Bay Brewing, a well-kept light beer with a touch of citrus to it.


The pub stables are still visible at the rear of the building, but the highlight is perhaps the view over the bridge which was designed by Robert Stevenson (not to be confused with the railway engineer of the same name). As a final titbit, it’s suggested that Hans Christian Anderson stayed at the hotel, although I’m not sure how much truth there is in that tale.