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Pub Visit - England

Kings Ditch 1Sunday 30th August 2015

Bob Thompson

At first, the name seems a bit strange but it becomes clear when you understand how the location of the pub is related to the old fortification of the town. This was achieved not by a wall but by a moat or ditch.

It was constructed by either Anglo-Saxon King Aethelfaed or Offa. It was also named the Walferlong. I have read that it was referred to as Offa’s Dyke. I find this very strange as the Offa’s Dyke I know runs more or less along the current England / Wales border.

The final visible evidence of the King’s Ditch disappeared around the end of the Nineteenth century. Nevertheless it lasted for over a thousand years. It passed a few paces north of the building the pub is now housed in. The last use of the building before becoming a pub was as a cycle shop.

Kings Ditch 2The instigator behind the project is Ged Fisher who had visited a number of micropubs in East Kent which is where the inspiration came from. He was joined Dave Barnfield and Ade Smith. It was the latter who was tapping the casks when I visited. They located the property in June 2014, signed the lease in October 2014, and finally opened on 27th November 2014 after five weeks of hard work fitting it out to be pub.

The results of their hard labours were easy to see when I walked through the front door.

The walls are mostly exposed brickwork. On my right the wall was home to a number of mirrors, some from breweries. Under these was a fitted bench seat along the wall which turned a corner to face into the pub with one of the front windows behind.

Kings Ditch 3There was similar bench seat inside the window on the left side. Here the brick wall had an alcove which contained some old brewery trays. Facing the benches were normal pub tables, stools and chairs. The bar was located in the left top corner and on the back wall there was yet another fitted bench. One thing that did catch my eye was the flat screen television monitor on the wall. It displayed images of the “cellar” behind it. So, although you couldn’t actually see your beer being poured, you could on CCTV!

The beer is sold direct from the cask as could be seen. At the right side of the room there were a few stairs leading upward. These take you to another, very small, room. This is where you can gain access to the toilet facilities. I noticed that the ceilings were beamed.

They normally have four cask beers on offer and when I visited they were: Intrepid (Brough, Derbyshire) Traveller IPA (5.4%), Salopian (Shrewsbury, Shropshire) Polygraph Stout (7.4%), Exit 33 (Sheffield, South Yorkshire) Hop Monster (4.5%) and Church End (Ridge Lane, Warwickshire) Stout Coffin (4.6%).

Kings Ditch 4The pub has already won Lichfield, Sutton and Tamworth CAMRA’s Cider Pub of the Year 2015 and that is not surprising considering the vast range that was on offer when I visited. Possibly this list is a bit too long but here it is anyway. Please note that all are ciders except where noted.

Gwynt y ddraig (Pontypridd, Glamorgan, South Wales) Happy Daze (4.5%) and Black Dragon (7.2%)
Mr Whitehead’s (Alton, Hampshire) Equinox (4.5%)
Gwatkin (Abbeydore, Herefordshire) Squeal Pig Perry (4.5%)
Broad Oak (Clutton, Somerset) Pheasant Plucker (4.5%), Somerset Snuffler (4.8%) and Moonshine (7.5%)
Rich’s (Highbridge, Somerset) Farmhouse Dry (6.0%)
Black Rat (made at Thatcher’s Cider, Sandford, Somerset) Dry Cider (6.0%)
Hurst View (Ivetsey Bank, Staffordshire) Puckered Pear Perry (6.0%) and Jibber Jabber (7.0%)
Hogan’s (Alcester, Warwickshire) Panking Pole (6.2%)
Chant (West Pennard, Somerset) Badger’s Spit (7.5%)

Finally there were some fruit-flavoured ciders from Lilley’s Cider Barn of Frome, Somerset. This company’s ciders are made at Broad Oak Cider (Clutton, Somerset) so I presume that the base cider is made there. Please note that all of these are 4.0% so I guess the flavourings are added later. They are Lemon & Ginger, Lemon & Lime, Strawberry and finally Mango. I do not know if the flavourings are true fruit. Theoretically they could be, yet it is doubtful and if that is the case, therefore not true ciders according to CAMRA.

Only packaged snacks are offered but should you choose to bring you own food in they will provide you with plates. I liked this pub very much and in conversation with one of the regulars discovered that we had some mutual friends in Birmingham. It should be a “must-visit” if you are on a beer visit (or any other) to Tamworth.

Important Information:

The King’s Ditch, 51, Lower Gungate, Tamworth, B79 7AS. Tel: 07989 805828

Open: Tuesday-Thursday 16.00-22.30; Friday-Saturday 12.00-22.30; Sunday 12.00-17.00. Monday: Closed

The pub is very close to the town centre, about five minutes walk.
From the station it is around ten minutes. Leaving from the main entrance, go forward. This will bring you to a roundabout. Take the second turning on the right hand side. This is Albert Road, walk past the Albert pub on the right. You will end up at another roundabout. Take the road second on the left. This is Lower Gungate and on turning the corner you will immediately see the pub on the right of the road.