Sat in the little room at the back of the pub, she asked me why I’d called in? I said I was a bit sceptical and I’d come to see for myself what all the fuss was about?
She asked straight back what I thought, so over the best part of the next hour, I told her.
I just took to Carol Ross as soon as I met her. She’s confident, distinguished and a very passionate lady where her pub is concerned, at all times remaining pleasant and polite, despite this woolly back asking stupid questions.
Carol told me all about the pub and it’s plight, which is well documented elsewhere; one of the famous five included in every GBG, family run for over thirty years, now owned by what are effectively property developers who are currently enveloping the boozer on three sides with an apartment block.
Yeah, the beer was excellent, a big selection for a little pub, well kept, well presented, local bias, top marks here. I expect decent beer, in every pub I go into, but you don’t always get it. The beer isn’t everything though, I could take over any pub and put on a good selection of well kept beer. Having said that, I could also go into The Roscoe Head and implement a regime of laisse faire cellar management and be dispensing undrinkable beer within a couple of weeks. For me it’s not the transient beer side of things that need saving, it’s far more complex than that.
Lets start with the people: Saint Theresa of The Roscoe didn’t know I was going to write this when she first started chatting with myself and Mrs C. We just got that lovely down to earth discourse I remember from the Liverpool of thirty years ago. I was always told to say hello and to chat to people and it should be second nature for everyone. Sadly this isn’t always the case. If you could bottle Theresa and the other girl, sorry I thought I’d written your name down pet but I can’t find it; you told us you were originally from Scotland. Anyway, if you could sprinkle what these ladies have behind every bar in the country then the world would be a much better place. I think that’s what a lot of pubs need, a sprinkling of Roscoe Head magic.
It was obvious that Carol and I had a lot in common, things like Brasso, furniture polish and other cleaning sundries. It’s not so much that you can see the place is clean, more you feel it, inhale it. Not just on the surface neither, it’s got that lustrous patina that can only be built up over years.
I was surprised that Newriver refuse to sell the freehold. I hope they change their minds and I’ll do anything I can to help them, because a heritage like this is something that can’t be bought or planned for, it just sort of happens and when it does it’s really good and deserves to be cherished. Okay, it might not last for ever, but we need to encourage it to last as long as it can.
If you haven’t been to The Roscoe Head then here’s a bit of descriptive for you; It’s a quaint little place with four rooms, the main bar and three small side rooms, each one slightly different, if you got forty people in at once then you’d hardly be able to move. Lots of wood and memorabilia and more CAMRA awards than most people will ever see assembled in one pub. Six cask ales and on two visits I tried thirds of six different ones, all very good beers all in cracking condition: Roosters Calypso (3.9%), Empire Brewing Jonah (4.3%), George Wright Brewery Steve’s Brave New Beer (4.7%), Rock The Boat brewery Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding’s fave beer according to one local wit, Weetwood Cheshire Cat (4%) and Barghest Oatmeal Stout (4.5%). I passed on the Timmy Taylors and The Tetley Walker.
The outstanding feature for me, amongst the chequer tiled floor, the bar staff, the friendly punters, the cosiness, was the fact that it’s a boozer that’s not been tampered with. No trendy designers have produced this. No uniform Pubco design catalogue fittings here. No, it’s all real, it’s naturally evolved into what it is and no one can produce this, it’s unique. Yeah, they can try, but they’ll never succeed and that’s why it’s so important to keep places like this going.
I know I’ve been sceptical for a while around ACV’s. Yes, they have a place, but before you go to that place there has to be consultation, with everyone involved, especially the owners or whoever is running the pub and I mean hard working independent publicans here, not the big Pubco’s. I’m not worried about an ACV here though, it’s deserved and needed, even though in the end it might prove to be a bit toothless and indicate something more efficacious is required?
I sincerely hope that at sometime in the future Carol eventually takes over the freehold of this wonderful little pub, for everyone’s sake. In the meantime I wish the campaign to ‘Save the Roscoe Head’ my very best.