Saturday, 29 June 2013

Crawling, The Pub Version.

Once upon a time, I was a feature writer on the local newspaper where I grew up and still live. This week my old newspaper published a feature on the city's infamous Westgate Run pub crawl. Which was nice.

But back in my day we just didn't write about it. We went out, did it AND claimed the expenses *nostalgic sigh* 

Reprinted in full from 1995: The Westgate Run and apologies to any blog reader who doesn't live in Wakefield *bows* ... 

Photograph of the original Westgate Run newspaper featureTHE MISSION: To boldly go where hundreds of hardened drinkers - and hospital admissions - have gone before. The Westgate Run.

THE DATE: Tuesday April 4 1995
THE TIME: 7.10pm
THE PLACE: The Redoubt, Westgate End.

The Westgate Run is not a run, although it is up Westgate. There's no rule book, only the wisdom passed from generation to generation. And there's no prize, but the knowledge of a job well done - usually several days later when the hangover recedes.

Traditionally The Run -  the object of which is to have a drink of your choice in every pub along Westgate - begins at the Redoubt, a heritage pub of great venerability and greater character. Many have attempted The Run, got thus far and stayed.

Not so our intrepid adventurers who had convened to not just attempt, but complete on pain of shame the legendary pub crawl.

Many have attempted it and many have failed. Witness one of our company, a landlord of the parish who, in days of yore, was sick every hour on the hour for four days after drinking a pint in each of the Westgate pubs.

The author, mid Westgate Run 1995
*intrepid feature writer face*
Forearmed with a legion of horror stories, we not only set ourselves a rigid schedule - ten minutes in each of the 19 pubs on the road - but also decided to drink halves.

And so, in The Redoubt, we set forth upon The Run aware that we had another 18 ports of call to go before the bells struck 11pm. Aware that, timed to the second like a military manoeuvre, we had to be in Metro by 9pm if we stood a chance of succeeding. And fully aware, with a horrifying clarity, that we would be drinking lager/ beer of varying qualities, hues and strengths until the dreadful deed was done.

From The Redoubt, we moseyed across to the Waterloo to partake of drink accompanied by the raging sounds of two aged pensioners embroiled in an argument. Then on to the Tap 'N' Spile, a real ale haven, to admire the eccentric decor and, um, drink lager.

The Wagon and Horses was our fourth port of call to catch a snatch of Eastenders and be dazzled by the brass, and then on to the Smith's Arms where tall tales began to be told and a DJ set up in the corner.

A half in there and it was 8 o'clock - five pubs in 50 minutes. Two and half pints each in less than an hour. Easy!

Then the Old Globe where we won £5 on the trivia machine, drunk our halves and patted the resident dog all in just ten minutes.

We diced with death to cross over to the Swan With Two Necks and three and a half pints up, the giggles were beginning to surface. One of our number was now demonstrating a camera tripod designed by NASA and used, apparently, on the space shuttle. Needless to say something small and technical dropped off and that's the last we saw of that.

Thence to Henry Boons, four pints in and just 8.40pm - one of us was clock-watching, one of us was convinced we'd complete the challenge with time to spare, someone else wasn't. I was feeling quite full.

The Elephant and Castle was next where acquaintances were renewed with the barmaid who used to pull the pints in RoofTops night club and we sank our tenth half. Life was getting distinctly rosy. To the Black Horse which coincided with half-time at the theatre next door. Battling with hoards in tuxedos at the bar put us a whole ten minutes behind schedule. Panic overtook us, we quaffed and departed for ...

... Metro. And problem! One of us requested bitter, but the bitter was off. Someone else opted for lager. The thwarted bitter drinker opted for brandy. Gasps were audible.

So to Bitz. And it was shut so crossed the road once more to the newly opened Jailhouse where I grooved down to some 70s sounds and gasps were, again, audible. Back across to the White Horse - an oasis of calm in the acre of glitz that Westgate becomes - and there we rested our weary bones.

But it was a brief respite and onto the Exchange where we hovered near the door contemplating the wobbly road ahead. At Rumours, one of us was quizzed by a doorman about their camera and went into a huff.

So to The Irnwrx. Now on our eighth pint, we were blase - "Westgate Run? Do it backwards, mate!"

On to the Black Swan where one sped off to exchange meaningful conversation with two young ladies.We, the troop, sat next to them. They sulked. The huffed cameraman came out it and took pictures.

Having been thwarted in our attempt to hit Bitz, it seemed only fair that Reflections (slightly off the run but would make up the numbers) receive our brief patronage. And it was brief, the clock was ticking.

And so to the Black Rock - our very own finishing line. We were completely and utterly sozzled, but it was 10.45pm and we'd done it!

Self congratulatory celebrations over, we rushed off to catch last orders at The Beehive. It's not part of The Run, but we thought we deserved a drink.

Original photograph from 1995, author and friend
*Not at all drunk at all faces*

The End.


  1. westgate run is bottles and pints, not piddling little Halfs. come back when you have done it with pint in each place. Until then your a blip on the landscape, a nothing and this blog is shite.

    1. Hi, Thank you for your comment. To be fair, I've done the Westgate Run several times with pints and bottles but the editor at the Wakefield Express at the time vetoed that for the purposes of clarity in the feature. Upsetting I know, all that beer on expenses *sigh* But again, thank you for your helpful comments


Thank you very much for commenting, if you want to chat some more find me on Twitter or Facebook :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...