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Pub Visit - England

Furlongs1Friday 10th July 2015

Bob Thompson

The idea for this excellent micropub comes from Andrew Sach who had many times passed an empty former fishmonger’s shop on Preston Street, one of the main arteries of Faversham town centre. He thought it would make an ideal micropub and, so it came to pass.

Furlongs2He was joined by Martin Brenchley-Sayers and they set about the transformation of the old shop. They arrived at the name because for most of its life it was a barber’s shop with the name of Furlong’s.

To test the water they decided to open it as a pop-up pub during the Faversham Hop Festival in 2014. Most of the time that weekend you couldn’t get in the door! Mind you, in that location they couldn’t fail.

Anyway, all was set fair for an opening later in the year. This, they achieved but only just, the pub opened on Friday 18th December. Of course, this enabled them to introduce the pub over the holiday period.

I entered at exactly opening time (18.00) that evening. The proprietors were entertaining their families yet I can say that I believe I was the first paying customer. Very soon the room was as packed as it was during the Hop Festival.

At that time it was still work in progress as many items were waiting to be installed. However, by July 2015, I thought it was the right time to take my camera along on one of my regular visits.

Furlongs3There is a display of hop bines in the windows either side of the central door. On the left of the room are the steps down to the cellar. After that there is a shelf for resting glasses on whilst doing some upright drinking.

Adjacent to that is a broad shelf that is used for newspapers, leaflets and CAMRA magazines from throughout the country. The Christmas tree sits here at the appropriate time. On the right is a small alcove with a shelf and three stools that looks out to Preston Street.

Furlongs4Then we get to the main part of the pub. On either side are wooden pews facing towards the middle walkway. These are two steps up and come with fitted wooden tables that are actually high on one side to enable standing customers to face those that are seated.

It is very ingenious and was installed, along with all the other fittings by Martin (not the co-owner), who is a carpenter. His wife designed this excellent layout. The small counter is to be found at the end on the left with a small table for standing drinkers on the right. There is a small room on the left behind the counter where the wines are kept cool and the washing up facilities are located. The right side has the unisex toilet.

As this shop had a cellar, it seemed sensible to the two partners that it was used for beer storage, thus freeing up a lot more space for patrons. The hand pumps are arranged along the side wall which is tiled. When the pub opened there were five hand pumps. The idea was that one would be permanently in use for cider and there would be three of the remainder used for beer service with the fourth being cleaned.

Furlongs5Because of the popularity of the pub, another has been installed to enable a fourth beer to be served. On Friday and Saturday all five dispense beers. They are even working out if they can install another, such is the demand. The beer arrives via lagged pipes so the temperature is just right.

Back to the pub décor. Once inside the front door you will see, on the left posters advertising beer festivals, etc. This is followed by six or seven framed paintings by a local artist, which are for sale.

The opposite wall has a very large abstract painting and two photographs, all printed on heavy canvas. The dark grey painted walls show of all of the displays really well.

Furlongs6At the far end on the right are four wooden poles displaying pump clips of beers past. A small pot of fresh flowers on each table completes the picture. There’s a lot of natural light flowing in from a large skylight in the ceiling.

Occasionally those who don’t frequent the pub often are surprised to hear people walking across the roof. This is because the first floor flat over the adjacent shop only has access that way via metal stairs at the rear of the pub.

So here we are in July before the number of hand pumps increased. There are three beers offered and they are: G2 Brewery (Ashford, Kent) Vela Blonde (4.2%), Hop Fuzz (West Hythe, Kent) and Wantsum Brewery (Hersden, Kent) Dynamo (4.6%).

As can be seen these are all resourced from local breweries in Kent and this applies to all of the drinks and products sold in the pub with one exception. This is the beers of Dark Star Brewery of Partridge Green, West Sussex and that is simply because the customers like them so much.

Furlongs7Whilst the beers are constantly changing the cider is always the same. It comes from Core Products of Mystole, near Canterbury, and is Penny Pot Cider (5.5%). The name comes from the fact their farm is in Penny Pot Lane. Whilst Kent is fairly well known for its cider what about wine? Well there are a number of vineyards throughout the county.

Kentish wines are normally quite expensive when purchased in a shop. Here the prices are very reasonable. The choice was Westwell (Charing, Kent) Ortega Classic White; Chapel Down (Tenterden, Kent) English Rose Rosé and Barnshole (Staple, Kent) Red Reserve. They also have bubbly by the bottle: Chapel Down Vintage Reserve Brut. I don’t normally mention wines in such detail but this is an exceptional selection.

Micropubs usually don’t offer a lot to eat and here is no exception yet what there is is quite an eclectic selection. They have locally-smoked cashew and pistachio nuts along with pickled duck eggs.

Furlongs8The crisps are from the Kent Crisp Co. and the fruit juices are from Core Products of Mystole. I asked about the provenance of the chillies in the crisps and informed in no uncertain terms that they are grown under glass near Folkestone! I might have been on safer ground if I had asked about the cashew and pistachio nuts!

So, a great pub to visit if you are in the brewing town of Faversham. A warm welcome awaits you from Martin or Andrew; possibly it might be Andrew’s wife Jude pulling the beer or barman Josh.

Important Information:

Furlong’s Ale House, 68 Preston Street, Faversham, Kent. ME13 8NS. Tel: 07747 776200

Hours: Monday-Thursday 16.00-22.00; Friday 15.00-22.00;
Saturday 12.00-22.00; Sunday 12.00-20.00

Faversham station is served by South Eastern Trains. There is an every half hourly service from London St Pancras via Stratford, Gravesend and Chatham which runs all week. It continues to Ramsgate via Margate. There are many trains from London Victoria that run via Bromley South and Chatham. They continue to Ramsgate via Margate or Dover via Canterbury. These are less frequent on Sundays.

From Faversham station leave on the town side, cross the road by the crossing to the left. Walk around the Railway Hotel to the right. You are now in Preston Street. Walk past the next three pubs and you will find Furlong’s on the right just before the end of the street.

Faversham is on many bus routes and the bus stops are close to the pub.

Routes 3, 3A, 3B and 3X to Canterbury four times an hour Monday to Saturday, hourly on Sundays. Route 333 runs hourly to Maidstone via Sittingbourne Monday to Saturday, four times only on Sunday.

Route 638 runs to Whitstable via Dargate four times a day Monday to Saturday.
Route 660 runs twice a day to Tankerton via Graveney and Whitstable.
Route 666 goes to Ashford hourly Monday to Friday, every two hours on Saturday.

Unless stated these routes do not run on Sunday and apart from the 3 are non-existent in the evenings.