Wednesday, 3 February 2010


With Groundhog and I thwarted in our efforts to watch Leek play Kidsgrove, what better way to occupy ourselves than to case out one of the few pubs in the Potteries (maybe the only one) to appear in CAMRA's National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors?

"Hmm, I'm a bit scared," confided one of us - I'll not say who - as we chiselled our way around the knot of terraces and unannounced dead ends that lies just outside Tunstall.

The Vine
- "offering an unspoilt atmosphere," claims the signage - is curiously uncelebrated by Stoke-on-Trent's thousands of hostelry historians. Effectively the three-room bit of an end terrace, it is rather out of the way.

Gently drifting dialect filled the building, and we ventured into the lounge bar area, where a regular was propping up the bar. Eventually the friendly veteran publican appeared, wiping his hands, from somewhere out back, looking - I like to think - as if he'd been busy with his Airfix.

Pints of Walker's Smooth - respectfully topped up - in hands (and New Year's resolution amended...) we perched behind a laminate-top to gauge our surroundings. A conversation bounced around the pub's three rooms, mostly concerning the pressing issues of the day*, i.e. whether the dominoes and darts teams would be playing at home or away this week.

A perfect opportunity to make a mental note of the reasons why The Vine is ace:

  1. It is tiny and extremely local, yet survives.
  2. It has an ancient embroidered sampler on the wall proclaiming it to be 'the best little pub in Stoke-on-Trent,' where such an object would normally read 'suffer little children...' etc. Indeed.
  3. It has what appears to be the publican's back room at the rear of the building, and the pub is small enough for 'the wife' to be involved in all of the conversations while she knocks back a cuppa out back before taking over at the bar
  4. Though there are no cask ales, the fizzy keg has proper old-school crappy beer in Ansells Mild.
  5. It won an award for best external hanging baskets in the 1986 Garden Festival competition. How do I know this? Because the yellowing certificate is still displayed, proudly, 'pon the wall.
  6. The memo board is covered in all the exciting news and results from the Potteries' dominoes scene.
  7. The curtains are a really good three-tone 1970s orange.
  8. The regulars warm themselves by a gas fire like my mum and dad had in 1984.
  9. There are loads of black and white photos of regulars gone by, all old-school Potteries looking, hair swept up and brylcreemed into the perfect square (symmetry with the jaw), c. 1957 and beyond.
  10. Loads of 1982 royal wedding china and framed photos of the queen in her coronation year. I must admit, Monarchists make good pubs.
Go there. But don't go alone if you can't hold your own at cribbage.

(* and earlier, in May St Chippy, the gathered customers were reassuringly, vehemently angry about the way in which their workplaces' shop-fronts had been put through and their Muslim colleagues abused during the EDL affair last weekend.)

1 comment:

Matt said...

Brilliant tales of a back street pub. Can't wait to read the report of going in the Globe, Goldenhill