The second pub that Julian and I visited on our study tour was the Craft Union operated Maids Head which is located on the Tuesday Market Place in the town. It first opened in the 1730s and became a Bullards pub which is evident from the rather attractive tablets on the frontage. I’m not sure why there’s a door on the right hand side, that was once a window and it’s evident from the brickwork that this part of the building has been reworked. More recently it became a Watney Mann pub and is now part of Stonegate’s Craft Union chain.
Here’s what the Tuesday Market Place used to look like, with the Maids Head being the yellow building that’s third from the right (clicking on the image makes it larger). Once a grand square, it’s unfortunately now used as a car park which gives it a similar ambience to the outside of a Tesco Extra store.
There was a choice of Doom Bar or Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, so we both went for the latter and it was keenly priced at £3 per pint. The beer was well-kept and tasted as expected, so all was well.
The interior of the pub was modern and kitted out like many other Craft Union pubs. It’s all a little generic for me, Stonegate tend to make the pub fit its standard interior decor plans rather than looking at the venue and basing the design around that. It’s an area that smaller pub companies and national chains such as JD Wetherspoon are far better on, their localisation is frequently impressive. However, it was clean and comfortable, so there were no problems there. Given that Craft Union claim they spent £200,000 on this last year, I’m surprised they didn’t do something more creative, although in fairness, the internal divisions which would have added character were removed long ago.
The bar area and sports are shown throughout the pub. The pub is generally well reviewed, with frequent mention of their low pricing, although there is an unanswered and odd review noting:
“So my husband and son went to kings Lynn music festival and went to have a drink in the maids head, my son went to use the toilet and was ordered by the bounser to get to the back of the non existent queue he went back to the bouncer and said he wanted to use the toilet and was violently pushed into the railings and landed on the floor, the bouncer and another one jumped on top of my son grabbing him by the throat and was literally strangling him only letting go when his dad intervened. When is it nessesary to use these tactics when a customer asked to use the toilet. I certainly won’t be recommending this pub to anyone and most definitely won’t drink in there again. Their bouncers are appalling”
I can imagine there’s more to this, but it’s certainly sub-optimal for a venue to have this sort of review. The pub was in the news recently when one of their door staff was attacked, with the defendant’s solicitor stating:
“This is the first time she had been out, she thought for enjoyment, in a number of years. She went out and drank far too much. She was intoxicated, and that is why she has very little memory of the incident itself.”
From this and some reviews, it certainly feels like there might be more of an edge to the venue in the evenings and so perhaps Julian and I missed out on some more raucous action.
Anyway, all was clean and organised, with the team member who served us being polite and helpful, as well as offering a friendly farewell. There’s an effort with the presentation with hanging baskets outside and the atmosphere was inviting and comfortable. The pricing is low and competitive with the large JD Wetherspoon Globe Hotel located on the opposite side of the market square. The venue doesn’t serve food and so their USP appears to be competitively priced drinks in a community pub style atmosphere. I enjoyed the visit and the surroundings were well maintained with the beer being well-kept, so the manager seems to be doing a decent job.