The first pub of the evening that Jonathan, Julian and I visited in Leominster was the JD Wetherspoon operated Duke’s Head. I’ll use their history of the pub, but in short, it’s the former Post Office which is named after a pub which once stood nearby.
“Before the post office was built in Corn Square, there was a small building on the front part of the L-shaped site. In the mid 1850s, it was the premises of dressmaker, Ann Lloyd, later occupied by Susanah Knill. She was the widow of the innkeeper of the Duke’s Head Inn which was located just a few feet away, on the corner of Draper’s Lane. The long-standing timber-framed inn closed in the 1870s and was demolished soon after.”
I’m already going off on a tangent, such is my way, but I had a look at the response of some of the locals when in 2007 JD Wetherspoon put their planning permission request in…..
“5.3.1 The loss of the post office is a loss of a public service.
5.3.2 Already enough public houses in Leominster which are finding it hard to compete with each other let alone the low prices which Wetherspoons charge.
5.3.3 No need has been proven for a further drinking establishment in area. Independent cost benefit analysis would be required to back up need for another drinking premises.
5.3.4 The proposal will lead to rowdiness and attract undesirable elements to the area. Unruliness, anti-social behaviour, vandalism and noise will be generated in the area by proposal.
5.3.5 Change character of town due to scale of proposal and anticipated number of drinkers.
5.3.6 Already a public house in vicinity. Will make situation worse.
5.3.7 Police already have problems in area.
5.3.8 Noise will affect residential amenities of adjacent dwellings.
5.3.9 Problems of litter.
5.3.10 Proposal will destroy amiable atmosphere of Corn Square.
5.3.11 Landscaped area at rear could be screened.
5.3.12 Maybe managed inside but problems will occur outside.
5.3.13 Enough public houses in Leominster and more will lead to more trouble.
5.3.14 The vehicular access onto Church Street is very narrow and delivery lorries will have problems entering and leaving access.
5.3.15 Church Street already busy with problems of parking which will be made worse by proposal.
5.3.16 Large lorries have caused problems to local people over the years.
5.3.17 More use of rear access track will make surface even worse.
5.3.18 Public access along track will cause problems. Parking in local streets by customers will add to existing problems.
5.3.19 Extra cars will be attracted to area.
5.3.20 Not enough room for delivery lorries to turn within site.
5.3.21 Delivery lorries could take light from dwellings in Church Street.
5.3.22 Vehicular access from Corn Square would also be a problem due to narrowness of streets.
5.3.23 The proposal could adversely affect tourism.
5.3.24 Leominster needs to address its social problems.
5.3.25 The proposal would destroy character of landmark building in town centre.
5.3.26 More about demolition than conservation.
5.3.27 Former post office building has strong period character. Loss of distinctive lantern roof and windows is undesirable as they complement fenestration of surrounding buildings.
5.3.28 The replacement building is featureless and undistinguished and gives little consideration to its exterior and surroundings.
5.3.29 Wetherspoons can do a better job of redesign than this.
5.3.30 There are a number of inconsistencies in the drawings, ie drawing no 173, “area to be demolished”, fails to show the removal or covering of four first floor and one ground floor window, and does not agree with elevation no 173/12 and plan no 173/10E. The smaller size of this drawing makes it an easier point of reference making its potential to mislead the more likely. There are other more minor discrepancies between drawings 173/10E and 173/12.
5.3.31 Church Street is an historic street and could be damaged by additional traffic generated by proposal.”
Three people wrote to support the new pub. The local planners were more supportive, and in my view correct, noting:
“There is no convincing evidence to the effect that an additional public house will adversely affect Leominster Town Centre.”
It was all quite pleasant inside and I’m not sure that the world fell in because the town got a JD Wetherspoon pub opening there.
As the JD Wetherspoon beer festival is on, I went for three one third of a pint beers. Oddly they had a beer priced at 99p which I queried as it seemed wrongly priced and the team member and manager had a little think and decided it was wrong but they left the signage up anyway. Perhaps sub-optimal, but it didn’t impact me. One of these thirds was under-measured, but they filled it when I asked. Jonathan was on his Staropramen whilst Julian was on low alcohol Ghost Ship as he was the designated driver.
I went for the Yazoo Dos Perros, a brown ale brewed by a company based in Tennessee, with the beer having some hints of chocolate. The next was the Nut Brown from Adnams and I was aware I had come halfway across the country (or indeed more) to have a local beer to me, with this being quite fruity. The final beer I had here was a favourite of mine which was 1872 porter from Elland Brewery. This was odd, it tasted of bitter Kenco coffee and gravel, I can only think there was a cellar issue or they’re somehow serving the wrong beer. This was the one priced at 99p and they seemed confused what beer was on what line as it was. But the whole arrangement came to around £2.30, so I didn’t exactly feel short-changed.
I liked the environment and ambience of the venue, it was all relatively peaceful and the service was timely and polite. The venue was clean, although I was disappointed at the lack of power points, but that was because I was keen to charge my phone up rather than me expecting them to have them. I had a look at the reviews on-line and they seem average for a JD Wetherspoon venue. One person left a one star review because of council policies and it wasn’t even the local council to the pub:
“We traveled to bridgenorth while on holiday in Ludlow when we arrived traffic getting in to town was so bad because of road work we could only park fo 40 mins as car park was blocked off couldn’t wait to get out of there which took about 20 mins shame because we had been before and its a lovely place get something done about this mess Bridgenorth council”
“Had breakfast this morning. Mine was cold after being stood around for 10 minutes while my partners was being cooked. When they arrived the eggs were RAW and the pancakes were rock solid!”
I’d like to see how these raw eggs were served. Perhaps still in their shell.
“Not good,. Got our order wrong at the till when asked to put her mistake right, she just verbally abused us. Kitchen staff apologized and said it was McDonalds mistake who claimed to be the manageress.. shame could be a great place.”
McDonald’s? Many of these reviews entirely confuse me.
Anyway, it’s a large pub and I’m not sure who else would have taken these substantial premises over if JD Wetherspoon hadn’t of come along. The prices for drinks were towards the lower end of the scale, with a wide range of real ales available as well as numerous craft beers. A suitably refreshing first venue of the evening, but our next port of call would be a Good Beer Guide listed pub.