Braintree – The Picture Palace

On the way down to London last week, we popped into this JD Wetherspoon pub in Braintree (a town we were near as Liam want to charge his electric car there, as he’s very environmental) as I hadn’t visited it before, and I felt that this was a sufficient reason to go there.

The entrance to the former cinema, which was purpose-built in 1935 as the Embassy (the name of which is still visible on the exterior of the building, as can be seen in the top photo). Before it, the Picture Palace had stood here, which was built in 1912 on the site of a former sand-pit and this name has been brought back by JD Wetherspoon. Braintree was growing by the 1930s (and has grown almost exponentially since) and the demand for a larger venue was required, hence the construction of the Embassy.

The pub is located to what was the bottom left corner of Fair Field in this map from the early twentieth century and Victoria Street now cuts across this site from west to east.

My friend Richard will be delighted at this, he adores Bells and would swap his entire whisky collection for a few shots of this.

The interior of the pub and it appeared to be a sensitive conversion into a pub which hasn’t damaged the historic integrity of the building (or at least as little as shoving a pub into an old building can damage it). It’s not brilliantly reviewed on-line, although there’s nothing too serious.

I couldn’t find any amusing reviews, but I liked this:

“Came in at 8 to order food. Didn’t order any alcohol. Got harassed at quarter to 8, trying to rush us to eat our food. Wasn’t even 9 yet. No sign showing that was there policy on the door. Rude staff. Extremely rude staff. Do not go here if you want a nice night or evening.”

I guess that there was a child in the group and the pub were honouring their licence restrictions,something which seems to infuriate no end of customers as they feel their children should be exempt. But, I noted that they arrived at 20:00, but complain that they were being hurried at 19:45. Anyway, I digress in a pointless manner.

I had a quick half of the Ridley’s Rite beer from Bishop Nick brewery who are from Braintree itself, which is at least some effort to stock local drinks. That tasted very acceptable, although the others on the table just opted for coffees, although I didn’t say anything of course….. As a pub, it wasn’t entirely clean (as Ross discovered when put his sleeve into a pool of tomato sauce, although we all saw the funny side in that – other than Ross), but it’s keenly priced and a decent transformation of what is a relatively grand building.