CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> Royal Oak, Lydd

Previous Pint Pleasures - February 13, 2001

guinness eileen

The Royal Oak, Park Street, Lydd, Kent

A tragic number of pubs close every week in the UK. Still more stop selling real ales. It's rare to hear of a pub reopening after a closure. And it's even rarer to hear of a pub with no real ale -- or with an apathetically kept handpump or two -- changing hands and restarting as a decent real ale pub.

Down in the fairly isolated Marsh town of Lydd, between the sands of Dungeness and the green stretches of Old Romney, a splendid event has occurred. The Royal Oak on the southwest end of town has reopened as a real ale lover's pub with a lot of promise. New to the pub trade, landlords Trevor and Mandie Brown received excellent training from their friends Stuart and Gilly Gresswell (of the Guildhall in Folkestone). And Trevor, like Stuart, loves his real ales with a passion.

Shortly after opening last November business was fairly slow, but this is to be expected in such a remote location during such a low-key pub season. Things are reportedly picking up now as the news gradually spreads that there is a good place for a pint way out here in the Martian outreaches. So put on your spacesuit, fire up that rocket ship, and jet down to Lydd. Now you have a good reason.

The pub is spacious, with two large rooms featuring a pool table, darts, and a listenable jukebox. Trevor has only one or two real ale selections on at any time, but so far the selections have included London Pride, Elgoods Golden Newt, Adnams Broadside and Bitter, Greene King IPA, Tetley's, and Marston Pedigree. On my last visit our pints of Adnams Bitter (3.7%, Adnams and Co, Southwold, Suffolk) were quite refreshing and appreciated. This is an excellent beer for a friendly Marsh pub session, a good beer for petting cats and patting dogs. Yes, for all my fellow pet-loving real ale drinkers the Royal Oak family features Trevor and Mandie's lovely Alsatian, Sasha, and their gorgeous black and white cat Bonnie and her handsome offspring. To me there's nothing as idyllic as sitting in a pub with a cat on your lap, a dog at your feet, and a fine pint in your hand. And if anybody wants to throw in a neck massage at the same time, well, that would be most welcome...

At present Trevor and Mandie are offering bacon sandwiches and simple pizzas but no other food is available. They hope to get the kitchen up and running in the near future, as well as a series of live rock and blues nights. And they plan to extend their hours in the spring; at the moment the pub is closed at lunchtime from Monday through Friday.

But come down for a lunchtime visit on the weekend. If you need any more reasons to visit Lydd there are several. For one thing Lydd is just up the road from Dungeness, with its turn-of-the-century lighthouse positioned against the quaint nuclear power plant. Strangely enough you can buy some excellent smoked fish around here. (That's smoked, not irradiated.) If you like hitting little balls around with little sticks there's the Lydd Golf Club and Driving Range; if you're a small plane pilot there's Lydd Airport. And if you're a necropolitan explorer be sure to visit Lydd's pride and joy: All Saints Church, the longest church in Kent, with its smuggler-filled graveyard.

Lydd is also famous for the development of both soda water and the high explosive Lyddite. Whether there's a local Lydd cocktail to celebrate these two inventions I can't honestly say, but perhaps Trevor and Mandie would know. I'll have to ask them next time I'm around; it would be a good reason to stop down for another visit.