Renovated Bristol City FC pub offers a warm welcome – but lacks an essential ingredient
Surprised and a little disappointed. It was my first impression upon entering the new Luckwell pub in Bedminster.
From the front door of this old hotel, I could see the expansive Ashton Gate booths lit up in the twilight and drizzle.
And as I brought my pint of cider to a table under one of the four big TV screens showing live sport, all I could hear was heated discussions about the local football club, much of it. to do with subscription prices.
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But other than that, I haven’t spotted any reference to Bristol City other than someone talking about former Robins star Tommy Doherty being in The Luckwell on opening night.
So no coasters printed with Scott Murray’s face, no Paul Cheesley bar towels and no framed John Atyeo shirts, that’s more of a shame and a missed opportunity, maybe.
Of course I’m kidding because I enjoyed every other aspect of my visit to The Luckwell, which reopened last month after a Â£ 178,000 renovation by Proper Pubs.
Everything from the restrooms to the beer garden has been revamped and the bar still has that fresh paint aroma rather than the beer runaway of yesteryear.
There may not be any images of the city’s legends on the cream-painted walls, but there are plenty of black-and-white framed photos of Bristol on display. The rest of the sage brown paint and ‘Mouse’s Back’ looks more like the posh Cotswold village pub than Bemmy’s boozer.
One of the only remaining parts of the old pub is a small brass plaque on a pillar above the bar. It is dedicated to Anita Anstey, who died in 2012 and still âsadly missed and never forgotten by everyone at RIP de la chanceâ. A touching tribute to a regular who we missed a lot.
The couple who now run The Luckwell, Ella and Hamish Wood, are locals and Hamish has been drinking at the pub since being legally allowed to do so.
They are clearly proud to be the last guardians of their local pub and plan to host karaoke nights soon, as well as start darts and pool teams.
It was Hamish who served me my pint of Thatchers Gold – a Â£ 3.90 piece – and he apologized for the lack of real ale that night, adding that there had been some issues with start-up and that the wine merchant was visiting the next day.
Not that there weren’t many other draft products on offer, with Guinness, Thatchers Haze, Blackthorn, John Smiths, Fosters, Stella, Carling and Moretti all available.
A community pub since 1885, The Luckwell has always been a favorite spot for pre-game pints before hitting the short distance to Ashton Gate.
After its recent makeover, it looks brighter and cleaner than ever, and the welcome was really friendly. It’s one of those increasingly rare beasts – a locals pub run by locals.
And, of course, if they can find classic city memorabilia for the walls, even better. A Gerry Gow corner or a shrine dedicated to Brian Tinnion might be a good place to start.
The Luckwell, 147 Luckwell Road, Bedminster, Bristol, BS3 3HB. Phone. : 0117 3291533.
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