Pub Awards

Pub of the Season - Spring 2016

The Maple Tree - Town Pub of the Season

The Maple Tree on Plantation Road, Balby has been voted as Doncaster Pub of the Season for Spring 2016.

Congratulations go to the managers, Ian and Jill Morris, and their staff, as the award as ever is given on the quality of their beer. They keep 2 regular beers, Wychwood Hobgoblin and Marston's Pedigree, and up to 4 other handpull beers at any one time. On a recent visit they also had Ringwood Old Thumper, Jennings’ Sneck Lifter, Hobgoblin Gold and Revisionist Sardinian Bock. Should you find it a problem deciding which beer to order, you can always try 3 different thirds for the same price as a pint.

Compared with a lot of pubs in our branch area, the Maple Tree is a relatively new addition to our long list of hostelries selling real ale. For those of you who don't know, it is a new build pub in the fairly recently-built Plantation housing estate near the large 24 hour Tesco Extra in Balby. They have their own car park or you can catch any of 3 buses there, the 22, 72 or 73.

The Maple Tree is a well furnished and a tastefully decorated large open plan pub, but the clever use of differing seating areas gives it a much more cosy feel. It is ideal if you just want a quiet drink on your own, or to catch up with friends and family, and for those with children. They have both an indoor play area with 6 large puzzles to keep them amused, along with the 2 newly - installed interactive digital screens, or there is a gated outdoor area with climbing frame, slide etc. for the more adventurous. Also outside is the largest armchair you'll find in the area, I'm sure.

You can pop into the The Maple Tree on a Tuesday evening and enjoy a game of poker, or you could take part in the popular quiz nights on a Thursday and Sunday, or most other times if you fancy a quick game of pool.

The large range of food is served from 11am, ranging from light bites to a full Sunday roast, and there is also a separate children’s menu to choose from should you need it. Since becoming a Generous George pub after its recent re-fit, it now boasts its own pizza oven at the end of the bar, which along with the ice cream parlour boosts the main menu.

The Hill Top - District Pub of the Season

We are pleased to announce that, once again, the Hilltop has been awarded our District Pub of the Season by popular vote at our branch meeting.  This follows similar awards in Summer 2011 and Autumn 2013.

This time we thought we’d look back at the history of the pub. The original Hill Top Hotel was on the opposite side of Sheffield Road. It opened in 1828. Francis Ogley owned the building and by 1846 he had added the Hill Top Brewery in adjacent buildings. Brewing ceased in 1881 and the hotel was supplied by Mappins Brewery of Rotherham who bought the pub in the 1920s and rebuilt it on the present site. The business was later sold to Hartley’s Brewery of West Cowick near Snaith. Hartley sold out to Hull Brewery in 1957, Hull sold to Mansfield Brewery in 1985 and Mansfield to Marston’s in 1999. The Hill Top survived all these takeovers but was threatened with closure by Marston’s in 2005.

This is where Julie and John Bullcroft come into the story. They bought the pub in 2005 and installed cask ale soon after. Their efforts paid dividends as the Hilltop became very popular with visitors and locals alike. Actually, the nearest housing is about half a mile away. John’s background is in plumbing and Julie’s in hospitality, food and drink.

One of John’s and Julie’s early ambitions was to install a brewery at the Hilltop; this was achieved last year with help from Gary Sheriff of the White Rose Brewery when the Hilltop Brewery was established in outbuildings at the rear of the pub, history repeating itself! The brewery has really taken off with up to three brews usually available on the bar, often with a guest beer from another local brewer.

Opening hours are Tuesday 5 -10pm; Wednesday & Thursday 5 – 12am; Fri 4- midnight; Saturday and Sunday noon – midnight; closed Mondays. Quiz and Play Your Cards Right feature on Wednesdays when supper is provided and Hoy is played on Sundays. Sunday lunches are so popular that booking is recommended. The adjoining Pie Shop is open Thursday and Friday 10am -4pm and Saturday 10am -1pm.

The Hilltop stands on the A630, Sheffield Road, at its junction with Old Road at the far end of Conisbrough close to the Rotherham boundary. It can be easily reached by X78 bus which runs frequently between Doncaster and Sheffield continuing until very late in the evening and stopping close to the pub

Pub of the Season - Winter 2015/6

The Leopard - Town Pub of the Season

It was the venue for the first-ever meeting of Doncaster CAMRA in 1975. More recently it hosted our 40th anniversary celebration in July this year. Now it's been named as our Doncaster Pub of the Season for Winter 2015-16. Congratulations to licensee Adrian Smith and his staff at the Leopard.Leopard

Situated near Doncaster Interchange on the corner of West Street and St Sepulchre Gate West, the Leopard is one of Doncaster's remaining traditional pubs. With its distinctive Warwick and Richardson frontage, it's a listed building which for decades has doubled as a pub and a music venue. It has always featured cask ales and has often featured in CAMRA's Good Beer Guide.

In recent years the Leopard fell on hard times and actually closed for a while. The turning point came in summer 2014 when the lease was purchased from Enterprise Inns by Doncaster Catering, Conferencing and Events. DCCE had the pub extensively refurbished and it reopened in August that year, being officially opened by Simon Townshend ( Pete's brother ). It has gone from strength to strength ever since.

The reason for a CAMRA award is, naturally, the beer. The many CAMRA members (we estimate 80-100) who attended our 40th anniversary celebration on July 11th were impressed by the range and quality of what was on offer that day. To prove it, we got through eight 9-gallon casks of real ale that day. And later, when the voting was held for Pub of the Season, the Leopard won by a significant margin.

Five cask ales and a real cider are usually available at the Leopard, one of which is always from Sharp's Brewery (a term of the lease – the pub offers various other Coors products ). When I visited the pub to research this article, the beers on offer were Sharp's Atlantic, Pennine Brewery Good Try (this was during the Rugby World Cup ), Stancill Lucky No 7 and Springhead Outlawed as well as Weston's Old Rosie cider. The Leopard is a member of CAMRA's LocAle scheme so most of the time at least one locally brewed beer is available. And when gigs take place in the upstairs room a Doncaster Brewery beer is usually on offer.

There are plenty of good reasons to visit the Leopard. If you're into music, it's a stalwart of the steadily diminishing live circuit and deserves support for that reason alone. It caters for all tastes - indie, heavy metal, even Charlotte Church has played there! Weekly Open Mic sessions provide a valuable springboard for local bands. It's also unique among Doncaster pubs in having its own art gallery featuring the work of emerging artists.

The Old Market Hall, Mexborough - District Pub of the Season

The Old Market Hall in Mexborough has always been a well-known local landmark. It was opened on July 6 1880 by Joel Kirby. As the name suggests, the building was used as a market hall for over 100 years then, more recently, a bingo hall. In 2009 it was taken over by the Wetherspoons chain, thus this great building continues to serve the community of Mexborough. Wednesday night sees the very popular quiz. A lift offers easy access to the large open plan bar area.

Many of the original features of the building have been kept, giving the popular pub a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. 

oldmarkethallThe walls are adorned with historical pictures showcasing Mexborough and the surrounding areas, using interesting photographs and information of local celebrities. 

The pub serves up to 6 continually changing quality real ales and cider in addition to the Wetherspoon permanent offerings, so there is normally a beverage to suit all tastes. It is also a promoter of CAMRA’s Locale scheme. The real ale has always been in good condition, thus gaining the Cask Marque award.

When I spoke to the manager Matt, he said how happy he was that The Old Market Hall had gained the award, and he was pleased that the award reflected the hard work of all of the team at Mexborough.

The pub caters for diners with an extensive Wetherspoons menu, which is reasonably priced.

With excellent bus and rail links very close by, the tastefully converted Market Hall has become a busy local hub for locals and visitors alike.


Pub of the Season - Autumn 2015

The Tut n Shive - Town Pub of the Season

TutWhat makes a good pub? A visit to the Tut’n’Shive will give you the answer. It’s one of the most popular pubs in town and has been voted Doncaster Pub of the Season Autumn 2015 by members of Doncaster and District CAMRA.

I first set foot in this pub when it was the Spread Eagle – more years ago than I care to report! Evidence of the original name can be seen in the stone decoration high up on the front of the building. Yes, you guessed it – it’s an eagle! Later, for a short while, the name changed to Joplin’s. I avoided the establishment during that period but I was back again when it became the Tut’n’Shive – the wonderful alehouse that we know today.

Nick Coster has been the licensee here for nearly 19 years. He reinstated real ale and the quality of his beer led to him being the first licensee in town to be awarded Cask Marque accreditation. He has retained this ever since. Two Greene King beers and up to four guest ales are always available. The ales, known as “local heroes”, often include those from Abbeydale and Kelham Island Breweries.

The pub opens from 11am until late (MonSat), and from 12 noon on Sunday. Reasonably priced food is available every day until 8pm. Apart from the excellent beer and food there are many more attractions. There is a very popular quiz on Sunday evening, on “Wine Wednesday” wine is available at only eight pounds a bottle, Thursday is poker night, and all major football matches are screened courtesy of Sky and B.T. There is also the famous juke box, playing rock standards. The “Tut” is, of course, well known for its unusual décor (the entire interior consists of reclaimed old doors, church pews etc.!). About three years ago, the toilets were refurbished to a high standard and are now amongst the best in town.

A friendly welcome can be guaranteed from Nick and all the hard-working staff. Assistant manager Liz, for instance, has a smile that would melt the stoniest heart. No matter how busy, she always remains unflustered, friendly and efficient. Pubs nationwide, please note - this is how a good pub should be! 


Hickleton Village Hall - District Pub of the Season


A previous winner in 2007 and 2010, Hickleton Village Hall has now achieved a 'hat-trick' by winning the Autumn 2015 District Pub of the Season award. This Autumn also sees this venue hold the 2nd annual Hickleton Beer Festival.

Situated in the centre of Hickleton, overlooking the small village green, this hostelry has been the village’s “watering hole” for over a century.

Inside is more like a cosy, characterful pub than a typical village hall. It is actually a members social club with a difference in that it is managed and run by the local community.

Beer quality is key when we select our Pubs of the Season and on that score the club manager and local resident, Alan Watford, has clearly read the script as the real ales here are always in tip-top condition. The everchanging guest beers come from all over the UK and include the occasional local ale. During my visits this year I have sampled beers from Wales, Cornwall, Guernsey and the Isle of Skye.

A quiz is held every Tuesday evening and live entertainment is featured from time to time. In addition, special one-off gourmet evenings are arranged periodically throughout the year. For other special occasions there is an impressive function room available for hire. New members are particularly welcome here and CAMRA members are automatically affiliated to the club.

If you like hostelries which have a relaxed atmosphere, great beer and a friendly clientele, the Hickleton Village Hall will be right up your street. Please give it a try, you will not be disappointed.

Pub of the Season - Summer 2015

Marketplace Alehouse & Deli - Town Pub of the Season

marketplace“We had no idea how Donny would receive it” says Kath Thorpe, referring to the concept behind the Marketplace Alehouse and Deli. European-style bottle shop / beer café outlets are not so unusual in large cities. Kath and her partner Rachel Brakes had frequented similar places in Manchester before returning to this area.Their new business opened in December 2013 and has grown organically in a way they didn’t anticipate. What’s more, it has won our Doncaster Pub of the Season award for Summer 2015.

The Marketplace Alehouse and Deli is unique in Doncaster and is exactly as its name suggests. On entering, the first thing you’ll see on your left is an impressive array of around 300 bottled beers. They are grouped into categories - local, regional, national and international – and cover all tastes. There’s a core range in each category with new beers regularly added.

On the right is a bar featuring three regularly changing cask beers, which always include at least one from a local brewery. When I visited to research this article, the ales on offer were Idle Black Abbott, Stancil Indian Ruby Ale and Half Moon Full Moon. On every table there’s a menu offering deli boards and baguettes, as well as a specials board on the wall. And, if you prefer to have a coffee they’ve got a wide range of those too.

The driving force behind the business is a love of beer, explains Kath, who previously had a career in law. The staff are all handpicked for their knowledge of beer and enthusiasm for cask ales. They can all make recommendations if you want to take home a bottle or two. It’s this commitment to beer quality which has won them their first CAMRA award.

The Marketplace Alehouse and Deli has grown in popularity since its opening. It has a great atmosphere, especially in the evening, and is limited only by its size. To meet increasing demand, Kath and Rachel intend to soon open a second outlet only two doors away. The Queen, a market place pub which has been a Polish restaurant, will reopen as a pub later this year. It will have the same emphasis on beer, a more extensive menu and live music. 


The Brewers Arms, Snaith - District Pub of the Season

The Brewers Arms at Snaith has been one of my favourite pubs since I first set foot in it. Chris and Chrissie Smith have been the hosts for 7 years and take great pride in their pub. From the real ales to the food, they have set high standards and the pub has a wealth of assorted memorabilia to look at while you enjoy your pint. The bar has four themed areas. One is dedicated to the former RAF station which used to be nearby.

HickletonThe pub is part of the Old Mill Brewery pub estate and is only a short walk from the brewery. There are up to 4 Old Mill real ales on sale, including favourites such as Traditional Bitter and Blonde Bombshell.

The bright and welcoming bar faces you as you walk through the door. During the summer months Chris takes pride in the wonderful hanging baskets that adorn the outside of the pub. The source of the baskets is a closely kept secret. Another attraction is the wishing well, at the bottom of which is a skeleton (It’s only a plastic one!). This is used to generate money for various charities.

There have been a number of improvements to the pub over the last 12 months. There are 6 rooms for guests which have all been refurbished to a high standard. Outside the garden area has been enlarged and activities for children have been enhanced to include a bouncy castle. Further improvements are planned.

Food is of a very high standard and seafood is a main feature of the menu. In June there is the Whitby Crab Festival and in August a Whitby Seafood Festival. It’s not all seafood though, because in July there is a Tapas Night.

Chris and Chrissie are always thinking of new ways to support their customers. The pub has access to a 17-seater bus which has been used recently to ferry customers on a real ale trip to other interesting pubs. Keeping up with the digital times, their website ( even lets customers book a table as well as providing lots of other useful information.