Monday 6 June 2022



Hednesford seemed confused on the morning of Saturday 28th May 2022.  The Jubilee was a week away, but the sheer volume of bunting, union jacks and people in plastic hats with 'Our Maj' tattooed on their inner thighs littering the busy marketplace suggested to me that they'd got their dates wrong.

With all three GBG pubs not due to open until noon, Daddy BRAPA, Col and myself took refuge in a quaint little coffee shop for half an hour, before a gentle little mosey on up to our furthest flung pub.

We arrived there at 11:50am.  It looked dead as a dodo.   Dad opened with his usual 'ohhhh, this doesn't look AT ALL promising' gloom-fest.  Even I had to admit I was nervous, particularly as social media wasn't giving any definite clues.  A GBG 2022 sticker in the window encouraged me that it had been open this year, but when WhatPub is your only source, you can't help but feel a bit screwed!

We found a nice little country path to walk along for ten minutes, and when we returned, Dad breathes "that light wasn't on before!   Or that one!  OR THAT ONE!"  We then found a back door open, but being still 11:59am, reverentially choose to wait for the front door to open.  

And if it didn't, could I swig down the second half of last night's Corona, left on a wall outside the pub, and count that as a tick?  I know tickers who would. 

Corona and 2020.  Reunited again

Before long, we spy the front door ajar.  Hooray!  We push on through to the bar and are surprised to see three old blokes already getting served!  Welcome to Cross Keys Hotel, Hednesford (2227 / 3789) about as unpretentious and gloriously tatty as the GBG gets.  We both loved it.  The barmaid praises us for not sneaking in through the back like these three reprobates, who slur a few jokey comments at us in an accent which was impossible to decipher.  They were winding up the barmaid to the extent which the 'jokey banter' spilled over into her getting genuinely annoyed, and all we could do was avoid all eye contact and wait patiently for our Bassies to be pulled.   The TV confuses us by showing a re-run of Nottingham Forest winning at Sheff U, but it was soon turned over to a bit of 'live' Wrexham v Grimsby.  What a classic it would prove to be.  What was weird was that the blokes - three had now become five, as the Spice Girls nearly sang - had this unwritten rule that Wrexham were the team to support.  Hednesford's ground is nearby, so am assuming they either have some history with Grimsby Town, or a link with the north welsh?   We got told to settle down when we jumped the gun and celebrated a disallowed Grimsby opener.  An ancient cabinet holding all sorts of strange digi-boxes, DVD players and remote controls of centuries past was opened with a creak, and that was that.  A cracking, creaking start to our Hednesford ticking career.

Next up, our other edge-of-towner.  This one was within spitting distance of the station.  

The Bridge Inn, Hednesford (2228 / 3790) certainly was a handsome stand alone structure from the outside, so we were disappointed to find quite a bland, non descript interior, the seating and tables more akin to a dining pub, beige pastel colour schemes, and plasmas showing motor sports, and an almost total lack of customers.  A few folk on my Twitter enthused about this pub, describing it as a 'boozer' and a 'locals pub'.  There was so little sense of that, Daddy BRAPA even suggested that they might be thinking of a different pub!  It was saved in part by a fantastically dangerous looking carpet, and some really top quality ale, like best of the day.  The two Whites, Rat and Dwarf drank superbly.  The extra local support for the place might be due to the fact that someone is apparently wanting to knock down this pub and change it into a drive-thru Starbucks, the monsters!  Now this would be a tragedy, what are they thinking?  Top ale pubs in historic buildings need preserving.  

Next, we crossed the railway line and just inside the still throbbing marketplace, we found our third pub .....

With a surprising amount of space inside which you'd not guess from the poky exterior shot, Heddin's Ford, Hednesford (2229 / 3791) was a pleasant surprise.  I'd not been expecting a lot because I remember my fellow pub ticker RetiredMartin encountering some rather tardy opening hours on his visit, something about a lady going to the hairdressers and arriving late.  But all was sweetness and light today.  A young lady chirps 'hallo' from a dark corner, Mr Cadbury's Parrot style, and a chap serves us Salopian Oracle, one of my favourites.  The bunting has seeped into this pub like a virus, so I have to ask if it is a bit early for all this, but he explains very matter-of-factly that it does no harm to get organised well in advance, which I can't really argue with!  Dad has grabbed the one remaining table on the back wall, all life is here.  You've got couples, maybe a couple too many dogs, random old blokes, students, some more World of Warcrafty, some more TOWIE, everyone having a great time, good cross section of society, it all makes for a really cracking atmosphere.  Now this is more what you'd call a boozer, even if it hasn't been around for centuries!  We're keeping our eye on the Wrexham v Grimsby score, the goals are flying in.  Imagine the scene in the Cross Keys now.  Grimsby have this amazing player called Dire Swerve.  What a name.  They win 4-5 and we are strangely delighted for them.

So that was Hednesford.  Top town, good pubs, good ales, good atmosphere, really enjoyed it.  But the day hadn't finished yet.  Join me tomorrow, 9pm sharp, or whenever you choose to read BRAPA (perhaps over the morning cornflakes and a nice cider).  Things were about to get more rural and down right upsetting!


1 comment:

  1. Hurrah for Hednesford!

    Use that next time, when that Spoons you missed gets in.