Friday, 3 August 2012

The White Hart, Watling Street Road, Preston

Once upon a time Preston built things on a humongous scale.
There were giant mills with enormous chimneys hulking out into the sky, huge factories teeming with workers who lived in thousands of terraced houses with ceilings so high you could squeeze in a couple more floors without having to stoop.
And after a long day spent at work in a huge building, where did the people stop in to relax before sidling through their  100-foot front doors?
A pub the size of the bus station of course.
Nice blooms at The White Hart
Now this potted social history of Preston is based nothing more than a few obscure, baseless musings I conjured the other day, but they seemed to fit perfectly when I arrived at The White Hart in Watling Street Road.
I have passed the pub countless times without investing in it any more of my time in it, than the occasional raised of an eyebrow as if to re-affirm it is still a 'really big pub'.
But the Central Lancashire branch of Camra reported it had starting serving real ale and it has some cracking hanging baskets outside, which was enough to draw me in.
Impressive blooms aside, my first impression of the place remained the same as it had been the countless times I drove past.
It was vast.
But while in its heyday (taking my flawed history theory) thousands of workers would have been pouring out of the mills and filling places like this, at 6.30pm one weekday evening, the appearance of my mate Big Dog Dave and I, was not enough to push the total clientèle into double figures.
With a pint of Young's London Gold we took one of the very many empty seats.
A couple of big screens were dotted around the place and with lots of streamers and banners, they were trying to get into the Olympics spirit.
But everything seemed to be swallowed up into the enormity of the place.
On a Saturday when North End are at home I am sure it gets busier but you could probably get a good portion of a 10,000 gate seated in there, in perfect comfort.
In decades long gone, your typical Preston worker pouring out of say Tulketh Mill at 5pm on a Tuesday, may well have popped into their local for a quick pint to relax after work, while your call centre crew emerging there today is more likely to head straight to yoga or spinning (which is ironically what their predecessors may have been doing all day).
The only solution is to entice more people in and they can do worse than starting with a decent pint of real ale, some cracking blooms and the sense you are in a pub which gives you plenty of room to breathe.

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