The Yorkshire Grey - Town Pub of the Season

The 'Little' Plough is a fine example of a type of traditional pub which is becoming less and less common. And now it’s Doncaster CAMRA’s Doncaster Pub of the Season for Spring 2017.

Congratulations are due to licensee Nick Griffin for his third POTS award in eight years at the Plough. The others were for Autumn 2010 and Winter 2012-13. In fact, Nick is one of a select band who’ve won this award at two different pubs. His previous pub, the now defunct Red Lion at Braithwell, was our District Pub of the Season in 2007.

The “ Little” Plough ( Does anyone know where the big one was? ) opened in the 19th century and is featured in CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. It is largely unchanged since a refurbishment in 1934 by its then owners Hewitt’s Brewery of Grimsby. It consists of two rooms, a bar and a lounge, which are both accessed from a passage at its entrance on West Laith Gate. Both rooms feature photographs of old Doncaster. There’s also a small courtyard which gives access to the men’s toilet and is also used by smokers.

Details of the pub’s interior are dealt with at length in Dave Gamston’s excellent book “Yorkshire’ Real Heritage Pubs”. In any case, the reason for a CAMRA award is the quality of a pub’s cask ales. The Plough has always had a good reputation for this and Nick has kept up the tradition. Three real ales are always available : Acorn Barnsley Bitter is a permanent feature while the other two are regularly-changing and often sourced from local breweries. The Plough is a member of CAMRA’s LocAle scheme which encourages pubs to sell locally brewed beers.  In addition, the Plough regularly holds its own beer festivals and took part in the recent Doncaster Town Beer Festival.

The pub has recently undergone a renovation. Its frontage is being restored, with the Bass Yorkshire sign currently taken down and the old Hewitt’s sign visible. The pub’s sign is being restored by local artist David Venables who is painting a new pictorial in 1930s-style retro lettering.  The men’s toilet is also being renovated. 

The Scarbrough Arms, Tickhill - District Pub of the Season

Sat in front of an open coal and log fire, with a pint of Stancill Blonde (3.9%), having just devoured a fresh sandwich from one of the local butchers shops, it’s nice to be able to chat to a few regulars on an afternoon without children or music getting in the way. I’m in the barrel room of the Scarbrough Arms in Tickhill, one of the few ‘drinks only’ pubs that stay open all day, every day.

Rose and Steve Walters have been the licensees at the ‘Scarbs’ for 11 years now and have expended much time and effort into making this pub an attractive focal point of the town (yes – it’s been upgraded from village status). For a start they have fully refurbished the front lounge and rear bar areas – both now have welcoming log-burning stoves, whilst the cosy middle ‘snug’ retains its furniture made from barrels, and some old pictures of Tickhill. There are also four letting rooms upstairs and the lounge is available for private functions when catering can be provided.

This pub has been in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide since 1990 and the range of real ales available has steadily increased from one to the current five. They include John Smith’s Cask, Wychwood Hobgoblin, Taylor’s Landlord, Greene King Abbot Ale and a guest beer which is generally sourced locally – hence the LocAle accreditation. Recent
examples have been Bosun’s Mate (Wakefield), Glentworth Early Bird (Doncaster) and Cavendish (Welbeck) to name but a few. This selection is much enhanced for the twice-yearly Beer Festivals held at end of May and in mid-September when the outside smoking shed becomes an additional real ale bar.

Other pub events include Quiz Nights on Monday and Thursday evenings and Music Nights on the second and last Tuesday of the month. Outside events, apart from the Beer Festivals, will include the Tickhill and District Lions Club Annual Charity Summer Bash to be held on Friday 23rd May and the Tickhill Town Gala at the beginning of July for which the ‘Scarbs’ provides the space and sells the tickets.

Children are allowed in the lounge, dogs are welcome anywhere as long as they keep off the furniture. Food, other than snacks, is not served but customers are welcome to bring their own sandwiches. Wi-Fi is available – a code is required – and BT Sports is on the television in the bar. Rose and Steve are lucky to have a knowledgeable and hard-working team working with them including Carl, Andy, James and Curtis, who not only serve beer and bottle-up, but also chop logs, water plants, look after the cellar and numerous other jobs.