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Previous Pint Pleasures - October 18, 2001

guinness eileen

The Marquess of Exeter, 28 Upper Hamilton Road, Brighton, East Sussex

guinness eileen

The Locomotive, 74 Lyminster Road, Wick, West Sussex

On a recent journey across the West Sussex coast my driving companion suddenly turned off the A27 to take a detour down Memory Lane. Having lived in Brighton 30 years sago he wanted to see if he could locate any of his old haunts. After a quick spin through Portslade and along the Brighton seafront we found ourselves at a multiple junction in the Seven Dials area where we came upon Andrew's old local, the Marquess of Exeter. Since we had a long drive ahead of us we decided to stop for a swift half.

Having consisted of three small rooms back in the 1970s, the Marquess of Exeter has doubled in size and is now one room nestled around a half-circle bar. Although somewhat modernised, many of the features are original, including the windows and the ceiling. The current landlady, who has run the pub for fifteen years, was one of the Marquess' young upstart barmaids at the same time Andrew was one of the pub's young upstart patrons. They reminisced about the old pub and a lot of the old customers, some now deceased while some are still regulars.

We sat at the end of the bar in what was formerly the kitchen. An advertisement chalked on a mirror announced Elvis appearing the following weekend, while a large likeness of Mr. Pelvis graced the far wall. And is that a bust of Mr. Peanut Butter And Banana Sandwich behind the bar? Must be some sort of Marquess of Exeter tradition here. Or perhaps the Marquess was an Elvis impersonator himself.

Just who was this Marquess of Exeter, anyway? All the landlady could tell us was that, according to his image on the old pub sign, he must have been one ugly bloke...

Our halves of Harvey's Sussex Best (4% ABV, Harvey & Son Ltd, Lewes, East Sussex) were excellent, a welcome tonic to prepare us for our long tedious drive to East Kent. When Harvey's Sussex is kept just right it can be an extremely pleasant pint. Since the day, which was predicted to be dark with gales and sideways rain, had turned out to be sunny and fresh with lovely billowy clouds, the well-served Harvey's simply emphasised the goodness of this particular moment in time. Yes, life was good in Brighton...

Earlier on the way from Middleton-on-Sea to Brighton, we stopped for lunch at the Locomotive in Wick near Lyminster. Located just around the corner from the Body Shop's world headquarters, this pub is a bit hard to believe at first: it seems to offer something for everyone. The bar itself is very friendly and welcoming, and there are 5 real ales on. The restaurant is large and features a family room, and the fairly-priced menu has some intriguing options. Outside a lovely verdant patio leads back past the boules piste to a roomy secluded garden. For those interested in pub games there are bar billiards, Connect 4, and a full-sized bar skittles table. And chalkboards on the walls advertise quiz nights as well as live music nights.

So what's the catch? In complete contrast to the nearby Six Bells, the sham of a pub not more than a quarter mile away, I couldn't detect any deceptive bells or whistles at the Locomotive. The landlord is quite warm and friendly, our lunch (prawn and Stilton toastie, BLT bap, and garlic mushrooms) was hot, juicy, and excellent, and our pints of the rarely-found-outside-London Young's Ordinary Best (3.7% ABV, Young & Co. Brewery, London) were mellow, comfortable, and refreshing -- a perfectly straightforward enroute beer which promised to lead us directly home with no detours.

The Locomotive is decorated with train pictures, old handheld signal lights, and memorabilia from the Great Eastern Railway -- which is a bit odd since the Great Eastern never ran this route. There are train tracks located close to the pub, but I believe they're for Connex trains. Perhaps in the middle of the night confused Great Eastern ghost trains pass by. After all, anything's possible in a historic country, especially with a few pints under one's belt.