Nigel Evans MP reviews The Swan with Two Necks at Pendleton in Lancashire
An old working farmhouse dating from 1772 that doubles up as the local tap for hardworking farming families and Clitheroe dwellers, has become, 240 years later, the Camra ‘best pub of Britain’.
Little could the enterprising farmer struggling to get to grips with maintaining his herd of cows and taking in events in our troublesome colony across the pond know that thousands of thirsty regulars visit this most iconic of pubs to quench their thirst on one of five cask conditioned beers and a choice of three ciders on tap, along with a couple of ice cold lagers. I should also mention the choice of 29 malts along with 3 blended ones in one of the largest choices I’ve seen in any country pub south of the border.
Steve and Christine Dilworth, the landlord and landlady, are in their 27th year running this treasured freehouse. Steve has been in the business all his life and such is his commitment to real ale he actually talks to the beers in his cellar.
It’s a relatively small but cosy local employing 15 people and sourcing its food locally. Steve heads his son Michael and young Luke in the kitchen preparing home made pies and other local favourites. A chalked board lists an impressive display of daily specials and the prices are extremely reasonable.
Another chalked board explains the tastes of the beers on offer. Steve maintains one constant named Copper Dragon (3.9%) but changes the others regularly offering milds and darks amongst the bitters. A bat with three small glasses ensures the opportunity to taste the beers without having to sign up to a full pint.
The pub was refurbished four years ago and one of their oldest regulars, Billy, cut the red ribbon to reopen it. As a mark of respect following his passing, Uncle Billy’s glass is displayed in a glass case on the wall along with two miniatures of his favourite whiskey.
After the reopening the pub soon started to pick up Camra awards with its latest being the most prestigious in the Camra armoury.
Steve and Christine support many local charities and use the pub to raise much needs funds for the likes of the mountain rescue team and local cancer charities amongst others. They even have a charismatic vicar, Roland Nicholson, conducting the locals in Christmas carols each year with free mince pies for all. This is a local that likes to support good causes.
The pub also has regular brewery visits, outings to other pubs and visits to the many local beer festivals including the great beer festival based in Olympia.
Rosie, a 10 year old cat, is the real master of the house as she roams her territory eyeing the nearest warm space, normally one of two real coal fires. The pub also has an extensive beer garden with views over historic Pendle Hill, most famous for its connections with the Pendle witches.
Since winning the coveted national award trade has increased markedly and the Swan with Two Necks have advertised for more staffwhich is encouraging at a time when 26 pubs close in the UK every week.
Whilst visiting the area, you could also enjoy a walk around the picturesque village of Pendleton or sit outside listening to the brook flowing along its way. The Swan with Two Necks is situated conveniently off the A59 not far from Clitheroe. Book if you want to savour the local fayre, but if you just want to sample the beers then there isn’t a problem. Never has beer been better kept or better spoken to.
Food: ££. Beer: £3.00 a pint with a 20p reduction for Camra members.
The Swan with Two Necks, Main Street, Pendleton, Lancashire, BB7 1PT. Telephone: +44 (0) 1200 423112.
Nigel Evans MP is the president of the beer group at Westminster and the Member of Parliament for Ribble Valley.
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