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Bold Decisions.

Four times a year, around the times of the solstices and equinoxes – yes, I know that I was taught that the plural of equinox is equinoctes but nobody these days seems to have ever heard of the word and the spellchecker is giving it the wiggly red underline treatment – a former work colleague and I go for a daytime wander around the hostelries of some town or city. On this occasion we had decided to revisit Derby.

With the choice of location made I made the bold decision not to, once again, switch the date of this outing. I'd already asked for a change to accommodate a CT scan, which was subsequently cancelled and upgraded to an MRI which I still haven't had. Why was this a bold decision? Well, Mrs Bygone Boozer had to be with The Outlaws in Somerset so I would be relying on public transport to get me there and back. East Midlands Railway has always been very reliable, but the local bus service needed to connect with it...? Let's just say the buses turn up on occasions.

And so I found myself standing outside the Duke of York at 8:00 a.m. to catch the bus down to Matlock with all the schoolkids. Whilst the next departure scheduled on the timetable sometimes doesn't materialise, the school run bus always seems to appear. The result was that I found myself exiting Derby Station at around 9:50. A little early for a beer, you may think. But no! The Victoria Inn opens at 9:30 every day bar Sunday, so in I went.

Derby's Victoria Inn pub sign
The Vic opens at 09:30 every morning, except Sundays.

I'd arranged to meet my mate at 11:00, so had a bit of time to kill. A couple of alcohol free Erdingers to help counteract any future dehydration – they're virtually isotonic, you know – passed the time and then Eric arrived. That was when I made the second bold decision of the day.

Newly arrived, and one of a least eight hand-pulled brews available, was UnBarred Brewery's Dark Mild IPA. It was described by the barman as "weirdly interesting". It was certainly dark, only 3.8% so hardly IPAish – unless you're Greene King, supposedly hoppy with Chinook and Citra varieties, so maybe a little IPAish. To try it or to stick to something of a more conservative bent? Eventually, with encouragement from the aforementioned barman, I plumped for it. Initial taste said "Mild" but then...


 Those hops hit. Bitter, or what? But only the Chinook. I couldn't discern anything of the Citra which give IPAs and other pale ales their citrusy or fruit flavoured hints. Yes, it was weirdly interesting, but one was enough.

Weirdly interesting, but I won't have another.

First beer down and it was time to move on. Eric and I visited a number of establishments including the Old Silk Mill and the Five Lamps, but one place we couldn't call into was the Star and Garter which used to operate on the corner of Bold Lane and St. Mary's Gate.

All five pubs on this 1881 mapping are now bygones.

In existence in 1800, when it was listed for sale as a going concern in the Derby Mercury, the Star, as it was simply known as back then, had acquired a garter by 1829 when Thomas Beeson was the landlord.

Extract from Glover's 1829 directory.

By the late 1840s and early 1850s it was in the hands of Samuel Newbold, who'd made his way south from his native Edinburgh.

Extract from the 1849 Post Office directory.

Samuel and his wife Eliza moved on to farm at, and run, the Scarsdale Arms in Weston Underwood, a bygone that I passed each working day for over a decade and which will no doubt make an appearance in these pages in the future.

At some point the Star and Garter came into the possession of Derby brewers Pountain, Girardot & Forman who demolished the old pub in 1934. One of its final landlords was David Hutchinson.

Extract from Kelly's 1932 directory.

Pountain's replaced the old Star and Garter with a larger version...

The Star and Garter in 1935.

...but the new pub didn't operate for long. In 1939 its last landlord was Arthur Petts and in February of the following year the pub was commandeered for use as council offices, with the licence moving to the newly opened Chestnut Tree on Portland Street. Arthur and his wife followed the licence. The Star and Garter did not reopen when hostilities finished and, to my knowledge, remains in council use to this day.

The former Star and Garter on Bold Lane/St. Mary's Gate © Google 2024

Having called into a number of Derby's hostelries, along with a visit to Nando's for a hot Peri-Peri lunch, Eric and I wound our way back to the Victoria for a final brew before I caught the train back to Matlock. No more bold decisions were made. No more Dark Mild IPA. We both decided to sample Three Lions from Leatherbritches, which has presumably been brewed so that copious consumption will allow one to forget England's parlous performances throughout Euro 2024.

So, had the bold decision not to rearrange the date and rely on public transport paid off? The tour of Derby had been successful. We'd sampled a few brews, solved the conflict in the Middle East and I made it onto Platform 5B for the 16:34 to Matlock with no problems. Arriving at the bus stop for the last bus home a good fifteen minutes before its departure time, and staying there for another fifteen after, I eventually gave up and paid more for a taxi ride home that I'd spent on beer the whole day. A date has been fixed for the Autumn Equinox trip and a return to Nottingham has been selected as the location. I just hope that Mrs BB is available to remove the need for any more bold decisions.

The Ordnance Survey map extract is copyright and has been reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the terms of this CC BY licence.

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Another great article. I have walked past this building many times and hadn't realised it was once a pub, though looking at the map there were quite a few in the locality. St. Mary's Gate is one of the few interesting streets left in central Derby. I couldn't make out the round building on the left hand side but going back to the map I can see that it was the gas works.

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