This would be the best pub in Bridport, if it wasn’t a Palmers Brewery tied house. It’s the only pub I’ve been in that has the full range of Palmer’s ales on the bar, all six of them (including the Colmers sumer ale), plus their new, own branded, cider (Shepton Mallet produced, I think). It’s also the best pint of Palmers I have ever had and having spent August down there for the last five years, I’ve had a few believe me. To be fair, it’s not that bad if it is kept right, and it is here, the Best Bitter was spot on. All this made me think that it must be the Palmers Starship Enterprise. Geraldine, the landlady put me right, it’s just a standard tenanted pub. I don’t think Palmers actually have a brewery tap flagship?
The Ropemakers is a real gem from the fantastic display of hanging baskets up front to the courtyard area at the back. The back being quite a long way from the front in this characterful, rambling, low ceilinged pub. In reality there’s just one room but with all the little nooks and crannies it doesn’t feel like that. As you would expect there’s lots of rope making memorabilia, one of the traditional local trades, loads of interesting ephemera and a good line in witty/pithy comments around the bar.
Geraldine and John (Baker) have had the pub for eight years now and they are really proud of The Ropemakers as it was a bit run down when they took it on. It was definitely the busiest pub I visited in the Bridport area. They have regular music and lots of other events. Geraldine said they’d had fifty people turn up to yesterday’s ‘Cheese night’ – six cheeses and accompaniments, matched wines, taste and compare notes sort of thing. We called into the monthly Monday Jazz night to find it was standing room only. It was good to see a happy crowd of older people being catered for. There’s a few lessons here.
Geraldine was clearly on the same wavelength as me when I told her it was nice to be in a pub with a good local feel.
‘One that’s not been cleared out and painted “that” green?’
‘What, Farrow and Ball?’ I said.
‘Heritage colours?’ Geraldine said, smiling.
It instantly summed up my feelings about a lot of pubs.
Prices were on par for the area. For example, £1.90 for a half of Dorset Gold, a premium golden ale. It’s not The Ropemakers fault, but the entire area is very expensive for what are pretty ordinary types of beers. I don’t want to start banging on about economics, but in an area that is dependant on seasonal tourism, I sensed I was getting ripped off in most places I drank.
Reasonably priced, simple pub food menu and local people in eating a market day lunch. Dogs are allowed and there’s free Wi-fi. The pub is spotless and smells of polish and wax. Importantly, the toilets were first class. Everything was clean, worn and used, but definitely not shabby, more … comfortably lived in.
I sat pondering the various factors that make a pub like this a great boozer. Yeah, everything above, but to me it’s simple. Lovely landlady behind the bar. Landlord walking round, chatting and checking, making sure everything was as it should be. There’s far too many folk these days who take a pub on thinking that it’s all beer and skittles. Well it isn’t, it’s hard work. You can’t sit upstairs, you’ve got to be hands on. Every ship needs a captain and the sailors need to see them stood on the bridge. I think this is far more important than pursuing ACV’s. Lets start a, ‘We want proper Landlords & Landladies campaign.’
This is a proper old fashioned pub that has a bit of something for everyone. The only way you could improve it would be to get some decent guest beers on the bar …