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The Bar Man, by Jeff Hoyle, February 7, 2020

Sometimes the signs are there. The hours during which food is served are reduced. You go past and the car park is empty.

The events that used to take place, such as the regular quiz no longer happen. The number of beers on offer is reduced. Other landlords tell you that they have been trying to borrow a keg of lager.

The monthly meet ups are changed to another pub, and eventually the doors close and the curtains are drawn. By no means all of those happened at the Deer’s Leap, but the news of the closure came as no real surprise.

The Deer's Leap on Wootton Road, Gaywood
The Deer's Leap on Wootton Road, Gaywood

A pub at the junction of two busy roads, surrounded by housing should have seemed busier. It is a while since I met up with former colleagues there, but even then, it seemed unnaturally quiet.

Back in the days of the New Inn it was one of the busiest pubs around and had a great reputation. With its family friendly atmosphere and large car park it should have a future in the right hands, and given that it is a fair distance to another pub, let’s hope that it is taken over as a going concern sooner rather than later.

There was no such feeling about Goldings. Soon after it opened we went along and were disappointed in the high prices for the beer and one or two other things.

However we persisted and aided by a cut in prices we became pretty frequent visitors. The food was good and at times the beer, especially that from the Grain brewery was great.

Based their consistently high average on the CAMRA National Beer Scoring system, I took them a sticker just before Christmas as recognition of their excellent beer.

Golding’s had a nice atmosphere where you could sit and chat without distraction and seemed pretty busy so it came as something of a shock to discover that it closed in early January. However it is not the end.

The good news is that the business will continue next door in the old Market Bistro, more recently Dough Dealers. I believe that the pizza oven will be retained alongside some of the Golding’s menu and I hope that they can find a way to serve some of the excellent cask Grain beers.

The premises were once occupied by a pub called the Recruiting Sergeant, a Colchester Brewery House at the time of closure in 1906 so it would be good to see a bit of the past restored.

Meanwhile the old Golding’s is due to reopen as Wenn’s Chop and Ale House around the end of February.

With Michael Baldwin, owner of the Bank House one of the people behind the new venture, the experience and knowledge should be there to create a fabulous place that will further enhance that area around Saturday Market which has improved so much in recent years.

It is also pleasing to see the name Wenn’s officially back. For some the building will always be Wenn’s whatever it is called, so why push against the tide?

One of the most famous and historic pubs in Manchester is Sam’s Chop House, an old term for a place that sells steak and chops, so hopefully that is a clue to the direction the new Wenn’s will take.

I know that the current trend is towards veganism, but I am rather old school and think that there is no meal finer than a great pint alongside an excellent steak. Bring it on!

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