Friday, 13 January 2012
The Plough, Preston Road, Grimsargh
I had a vivid image of what The Plough would be like long before I arrived; character, tradition, uneven floors and centuries old wooden beams clinging to the ceiling.
What I found was something half way between my idyll and a regular old pub.
It would not be great insight to note the building is pretty old and the signs of its heritage are all around, from its haphazard layout, to big fire places and solid stone brickwork.
But like many nice old country pubs it looks like it has been modernised at some point, before whoever decided it needed a ‘fresh look’, realised they were tearing away its heart and quickly tried to repair the damage.
What is left is an old pub with lots of modern fittings and panelling which nods to its tradition while accepting it will never be quite the same.
Sitting in a high backed chair sipping my pint I concluded it was a nice pub but it probably was much more than that at one time.
Then up on a wall in a corner I spotted a short history of the place which put my snap judgement into perspective.
Since it was built in 1785 the pub has been, to roll out a horrible cliché, the cornerstone of the area.
Originally a coaching house, it also served as a ticket office, inquest court room, beer supply depot for the hotels in Preston and numerous other things which escape me (blame the beer).
In 20 or so lines, this document plastered on a wall in the corner, offered an abridged chronology of the pub’s fascinating contribution to village life.
But between the lines, it also explained perfectly why it looks the way it does.
Throughout the centuries The Plough has served its community whether it is with ale, tickets or causes of death, perpetually adapting and evolving as it went.
In its current form it still plays a vital role in as a hub for the whole community to come together.
Much of the pub is given over to dining and a steady stream of hearty portions were heaved out of the kitchen throughout the evening.
But there is also a less formal room with a pool table, darts and a large television.
Outside, there is a huge bowling green and a quirky reptile rescue centre, presumably aimed at filling youngsters with excitement and parents with dread.
It also holds games evenings, such as dominoes and darts, as well as sponsoring the cricket team and organising excursions to places such as Belle Vue greyhound racing in Manchester.
I drained the last of my pint as a group of regulars walked through the door to a warm greeting from the barman.
As pleasantries were exchanged I got up to leave, concluding this pub’s tradition was not to be found in crumbly old bits of wood, but by continuing to provide a place for people to say hello.