My Local Pub
The Swan, 1 Horsham Road, West Green,
Crawley, West Sussex
The Swan is a Whitbread managed house; in their parlance it's called
a 'Beer Engine' - I guess that means the emphasis is supposed to
be on beer (debatable). It's widely thought that there has been a
pub on this site for about a hundred years although the current
building is not the original one. Prior to being accquired
by Whitbreads it belonged to Brickwoods Brewery.
With charity it could be described as a no-frills, locals pub - in reality
it's a run down dive. Although we have a lovely new manager(ess), Joe,
who works very hard, it's obvious that everyone from the area manger
upwards doesn't give a toss about the place as long as the money
keeps rolling in. And why should they, you may ask, as long as dumb
punters like me keep coming back.
There are two bars. The divide between the two is as much social as it is
physical - in fact it's almost like two separate pubs, each with
it's own set of customers. People tend drink in one bar or the other. There
aren't many "cross-benchers".
At the rear of the pub is a paved area with
tables generally called the "herb garden" - put it this way, a lot of people
smoke out there. Children are welcome, but dogs are preferred.
When the pub was renovated (ie they hung sacks on the ceiling) and
convertred a few years ago to a "beer engine" it was explained to
the punters that there would be a vast array of ever changing beers -
a sort of real ale heaven. Sadly it didn't work like that.
Firstly, the previous manager
fell out with the main wholesaler and stopped ordering beer from them.
Secondly, because the pub has a large body of regular customers, there is no
incentive for any one in the management chain to make more than the bare minimum
effort. So we exist on a limited diet of the same beers - perm from one to six from the
following list - Flowers Original, Flowers IPA, Wadworth 6X,
Greene King Abbot, Fullers London Pride, Fuggles IPA and King and Barnes Sussex.
Others crop up less frequently or on a one-off basis eg Tanglefoot, Bombardier, Old
Speckled Hen. Boddingtons Mild is nearly always available direct from the cask.
There is however is small light it the dakness in the shape (ahem!) of our new
manageress. Joe at least seems interested in serving her customers and taking
an interest in what they want. We can only hope for the best.
Joe - sex goddess turned pub manager
Sadly, with food, it's already a different story. Five years ago the pub opened early for
breakfasts and did a steady lunchtime trade
with local business types. The previous management team killed that off entirely with
a combination of general disinterest and a menu that demonstrated the culinary
imagination of a 13 year old. Now the area manager has shut the kitchen entirely, citing
lack of business as the reason. . Well, what do you expect when you dish up a load
of c**p that no one wants.
Into all this gloom the customers try and inject a little fun by organising typically pubby activities.
Regular weekly events include:-
- Monday night - ladies darts
- Tuesday nights - jam session (alternate weeks)
- Thursday night - mens darts
- Friday night - live band (very loud)
I run a quiz on the first Wednesday of each month.
Around about Burn's Night and St. Andrews day the hospitable Scotsmen (that's me and another John)
prepare and serve haggis, neeps and tatties for anyone who wants to partake.
You should avoid this pub if you are :-
- trying to impress your partner/boss/customer/friend
- offended by bad language
- decor or furniture sensitive
- accustomed to quick and effecient service
- not dog tolerant
Now a few words for dogs. This is one of the few pubs in
Crawley where you can bring your owner. Be nice. Don't pee
on the wall or fight with the other dogs. Someone will give
you a biscuit.
Why would anyone want to drink in a place like this? Well, it's not for the decor for sure. The beer
is ok but nothing special. Although it may seem like a cliche, it's the people that make it
special. People from all walks of life. The rich and the not so rich. All political shades from Marxist
to somewhere right of Attila The Hun. People with mobile phones and those without.
Rather like a downmarket version of "Cheers".
If you ever come to Crawley and need a beer, don't be put off by the semi-derilect appearance - come in and find
out what a real pub is all about.
Click here to visit the Rogues Gallery.