The evening is late as we enter The Ship – the one on Bromham Road that is, not St Cuthbert’s Street. This photo was taken a few days later:
As a building, it’s pleasing enough: white exterior with exposed timbers, hanging baskets, and The Ship Inn painted in big clear script above the centrally-placed door, with the Charles Wells branded lantern. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s Charles Wells, or the big, prominent “Sky Sports, live here” banner covering almost half of one of the windows; or the various advertising boards outside promoting “big screen”, “disco”, “karaoke” and “party” that put me off. I’ve walked past this place hundreds of times, but it’s always looked so impenetrably gloomy in there. But, enough of snap judgements: let’s head in.
When we enter, on a weekday evening, it’s pretty quiet, as one might expect. Modern pop music plays at a comfortable volume – in fact, as RealAleRocks observes, it’s VH1 (Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Adele), playing from one of the TVs. The other TV, further back next to the pool table, shows something else, muted. A handful of punters sit near the bar; two play pool.
The welcome from the barwoman is friendly enough, and perhaps making up for the mediocre beer selection: on the handles, Young’s Special and Courage Directors; on the taps, CW Dry Hopped Lager, CW Eagle Smooth, and then the usual suspects, which today are Carling, Kronenbourg, Aspall’s, Guinness, Stella, Fosters, and Strongbow. We both plump for the Young’s Special, for a total of £7. The beer is lively, but eventually a pair of pints are marshalled into place.
The front of the pub is mostly a seating area, up a couple of steps from the ground level, and separated off from the main part by a handsome wooden balustrade – one of many nautical-themed elements here. There are round dark wooden tables and chairs, and a two-seater sofa in the corner; ceramics line the lintels, and on the dark wood-panelled walls are hung pictures, many of a seafaring nature. A sign above the window reads “Dan’s office”.
Further back and round to the left – past an oddly-placed sofa right next to the door out to the beer garden – is the bar, with stone flagging underfoot. Opposite the bar are the loos, easy to find and clearly labelled (always a plus point in my book). Pennants along the wall promote awareness for prostate cancer. There’s a fruit machine here, quietly flashing away. Beyond this, the space opens out to accommodate a pool table, with a TV on the side wall facing it. Above, a projector, presumably called upon for those live sports events that were advertised outside.
A man and a woman, perhaps in their 20s, play pool; a woman sits at the bar, reading a paper; a man plays with the fruit machine. Later, a man in his 60s arrives, orders a pint of Stella, and sits near the window, reading a book. Two men in their 40s pop out to the beer garden to smoke. Now, a woman in her fifties, and separately, a man in his forties. I’m pleasantly surprised by the gender mix here.
It’s quiet tonight, but dotted around are adverts for “Captain’s Quiz”, “Poker night”; book a table for Mother’s Day; come for the Liverpool v Arsenal game. I wonder just what those events look like – it’s hard to imagine this place being busy, right now. It’s quiet here, and that’s fine by us. At 8pm, both TVs are switched over to show a football match. In some pubs, that’d be a rudely noisy cue to leave; but here, the sound of the football is low, and we feel no reason to hurry away.
I like The Ship‘s dedication to its nautical theming; it was friendly, and if you prefer to be left alone, that was fine too. So a return visit isn’t out of the question, and it is quite near to the station. But as RealAleRocks notes, why would you come here, when The Bedford Arms is only a couple of minutes’ walk away? Maybe just because, even though arguably better pubs are close at hand, The Ship is friendly, easy on the eye, and still deserves its fair share of trade from the passing traveller.
Images by GirlMeetsPint, CC BY 4.0