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Another Full Set.

It's rare to get a full set in one post. A triple whammy. This earlier one entitled The Full Set unsurprisingly featured a full set, but the full set was different in nature. Whilst that post finished off dealing with all of the bygone boozers in Bacton, Norfolk this one features all three of the items in the blog's title, viz. a bike, a beer and a bygone boozer. They'll appear in the reverse order though so you can bale out from reading once your area(s) of interest have passed. They're all linked together in a couple of tenuous ways so it seems appropriate to bundle them all together in one post.

Just in case you were wondering why there's been radio silence for a while, Mrs. Bygone Boozer and I have had a break abroad. We've been doing a bit of pedalling in Sweden and on our way to the airport we passed this former hostelry.

The 1759 turnpike road heads off to the left in front of the former Setter Dog. Sept. 2019. © Google 2022

The Setter Dog at Walker Barn in Cheshire was 'the other pub' on the A537 Cat and Fiddle road between Buxton and Macclesfield. The A537 was originally a turnpike road, authorised by Act of Parliament in 1821 and completed two years later. The road replaced an earlier one which was turnpiked, if that's a proper verb, in 1759. The Setter Dog stood where the two routes met and no doubt served travellers on both. It possibly served travellers before the turnpiking of the earlier one too, as the building carries the date 1740.

For a boozer with such a history it proved surprisingly difficult to track down its landlords. I have so far failed to find it mentioned in any early directories. This could well be because it's in the middle of nowhere and so would it be listed under Walker Barn itself? Macclesfield? Macclesfield Forest? Rainow? Brookhouse?

Although early censuses give a pub as being at the location...

Extract from the 1851 census.

...the earliest reference to the place by name that I've managed to dig up is in the 1881 census when Geoffrey Mottershead was the landlord.

The Setter Dog is named in the 1881 census.

The Setter Dog around 1881.

Geoffrey was still there twenty years later...

Extract from the 1901 census.

The Setter Dog around 1901.

...but died in 1903.

As a part of Macclesfield brewers W.A. Smith & Sons' estate, the pub's ownership passed to Marston's when the latter bought the former in 1962...

Postcard of the Setter Dog, probably from its W.A. Smith and Sons days.

...and it was still a Marston's house when it closed, which it had done by 2005 when Graham Beech's book, East Cheshire Walks; From Peak to Plain was published, for the book contains the phrase " the right of what used to be the Setter Dog pub."

I nearly managed to get a beer in this former hostelry. In 2002 the National Hill Climb Championship was held on the Cat and Fiddle course, starting in Macclesfield and finishing just short of the eponymous pub.

On the way up. A competitor (not me!) in the 2002 national hill climb championship.

A few folks, competitors and spectators, from the four corners of the land had decided that it would be good to meet up after the event for a natter. The Setter Dog was one suggested venue but in the end it lost out to the Puss in Boots in Macclesfield as this was nearer to the event's headquarters. The Puss, just like the Cat and Fiddle, has also had a period of closure but it too is back up and running.

There was little sign of the Setter Dog having been a pub as Mrs. BB and I drove by on our way to the mayhem that was Manchester Airport. Eventually arriving in Sweden, numerous hours after leaving home, I felt that it was time to celebrate with a beer. Perusing the shelves of the local System Bolaget I came across this offering from Jämtlands Bryggeri...

...and never having tried it before I thought that I'd give it a go. Brewed using an assortment of malts and an even bigger one of hops it might prove interesting.

The Pilgrimstad brewery's take on a Belgian Dubbel poured, as most of their brews seem to, with little condition and it was quite easy to keep the remains of the bottle conditioned sediment from entering the glass. A dark red-brown, it smelt of dried fruit and muscavado sugar. Swilling it around my mouth and the dried fruit was there along with some hints of caramel. It was certainly pretty sweet. And pretty quaffable. At 7.0% that quality could make it a little dangerous, so I limited myself to a single bottle before hitting the bed.

Upon rising, with a couple of days' travelling behind me, I needed to get out for a ride and some fresh air. But which bike? I chose the Paul Milnes. This machine has a bit of history behind it. Not quite as much as the Setter Dog, but it certainly didn't start its life like this.

Like Doctor Who it has regenerated several times. The original version, the William Hartnell bike if you like, started off as a Bits Box Bike, thrown together from bits in my, err, bits box.

A decade and a half ago Mrs. Bygone Boozer and I were spending almost every weekend with friends near Newark and to save the hassle of loading a bike into the car each week I thought that I'd build a cheap one to keep in their garage. The frame, original forks and seatpost were acquired new from eBay for the princely sum of £26 as the rear brake bridge had been welded at the wrong height and an adapter had to be fitted to mount the calliper. Did I care about this? On a cheap build, what do you think?

Calliper mounting bridge. Sorry, I mean bodge. Sorry, I mean adapter.

The other parts came from what I had sitting around gathering dust. The resulting Bits Box Bike wasn't pretty, but it served its purpose well.

As time passed we were spending less time near Newark but more of it in Sweden and so it made sense for Bits Box Bike to emigrate, which it duly did, and in 2008 it took part in its first ever Swedish time trial. It didn't prove to be fast, but at least I wasn't the bottom most rider on the results sheet. This was particularly pleasing as I had none of the usual competitive cycling attire in my Swedish wardrobe at the time.

The Bits Box Bike performing in the Formtoppen time trial in 2008.

With the likelihood of me spending more time in Sweden and having more opportunity to race I needed to improve the bike's competitiveness. It seemed an easier option than to improve my fitness. An inline Scandium seatpost, lighter than a carbon fibre one, was acquired for £20, a set of discarded tribars replaced the drop handlebars and new cranks, complete with a power meter and aero chain rings were fitted. To finish it off, a pair of twenty year old aero, deep section wheels were slotted in. Now the Patrick Troughton version was complete.

Patrick Troughton. The Bits Box Bike Flyer.

Did it prove to be faster? Well, yes. But still not fast enough, and to mark a 'significant' birthday it was replaced by a dedicated time trial machine. However the Bits Box Bike wasn't ready for retirement. It was time for another regeneration. Time for the John Pertwee version.

The Formtoppen time trial mentioned above formed part of a district series of races of different types. There were time trials and road races, criteriums and a hill climb. Despite the fact that I don't normally 'do hills', because series points were available to win I thought that I'd build a hill climb bike for the 2018 series based on the Bits Box Bike. It wouldn't be the world's lightest bike but I was pretty sure that I could get it pretty close to the 6.8kg minimum weight that was allowed. Not that I'd ever seen a bike actually weighed in any events that I'd taken part in. So project weight loss and the next regeneration began.

Firstly some all-carbon forks to replace the aluminium and steel originals were found on eBay for £15. It was nice that they had an aero profile which would help a bit with the initial four hundred meters of dead flat of the hill climb course.

The drop handlebars were replaced with a set of bull horns, into the end of its right hand grip was fitted a time trial bar-end gear shifter which would allow me to change gear, inevitably downwards as the road went upwards, without having to move my hand. Braking was provided by a pair of cheap, light, Chinese-made levers mounted backwards which enabled the strongest fingers to be used where the leverage was greatest. Having got up the hill I'd still have to come back down it and stop at the bottom. Mounting them backwards also allowed the cables to be tucked away for a possible slight, but probably imagined, aero gain.

Brake and gear lever with tucked-away cables.

That bar end shifter moved another eBay bargain, a Shimano Ultegra rear derailleur purchased for £18. It was a bit battered but worked fine and the ratio of weight saved:pounds spent was very satisfying.

A bit battered, but this is no beauty contest.

The titanium-railed saddle and cranks came from the aforementioned 'significant' birthday bike. The former, with its minimalist structure was far too narrow for my broad backside to be comfortable on it for any real length of time, but who sits down on a hill climb?

Too narrow for a fat-arse like me.

At one end the cranks were fitted with a single 42-tooth narrow-wide chainring – £14 new, also from eBay – attached by some nice blue aluminium bolts...

...and at the other some cheap and cheerful but, more importantly, light composite pedals provided the platform for my feet which would be encased in...

...a pair of Nike Poggios. Developed for Lance Armstrong to use in the time trial up Alpe d'Huez in the 2004 Tour de France there still are few, if any, significantly lighter shoes around today.

Stripping it of its bottle, cage and bag and swapping the aluminium wheels for a set of carbon fibre ones with an 11-28 toothed lightweight cassette, John Pertwee tips the scales at almost exactly seven kilograms. Not at all bad for a cheap aluminium frame.

The question is, how did it cope with that hill? The answer is, it didn't. Or, at least, it hasn't yet. In autumn 2017 came my personal heart/lung wrecking virus which, if I fully follow my medical advice, should prevent me from riding at the intensity the event would require. Then came a couple of years of global life-wrecking virus and now, seemingly, the Jämtlandserien is no more. Quite why the series is no longer running I've yet to establish but it looks like John Pertwee may well become Tom Baker if there is no longer a reason for the former to exist.

So there you have it, a full set. A bike, a beer and a bygone boozer. It's just a pity that the beer was only a dubbel and not a tripel. That would've made the whole thing just a little bit neater. Next post is just a singular bygone. It's on its way.

If you've read this far, then thank you. Possibly, like me, you may have some sort of interest in bygone boozers. Clicking here will take you to a searchable/sortable index which you can use to see if I've already featured any lost locals from your locality. You can also subscribe to ensure that you don't miss any future posts. Simply click here to return to the home page (opens in a new tab), follow the 'Subscribe' link and complete the form to receive an email notification of any future post. Or you could simply follow the link at the top of this page.

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