Bar Man, by Jeff Hoyle, February 19, 2016

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Some people love Wetherspoons, others hate them, but one thing that I admire them for is making the best of their premises and trying to root each outlet into the local community. In Lynn, that may not be quite as obvious as both the Lattice House and the Globe were already pubs when the company took them over, but in many places the company have converted cinemas, banks, theatres or even swimming baths and kept many of the original features, which make them worth popping into just for a look. In addition they usually have old photographs of the local area, or information about local history, such as the panels about Frederick Savage in the Lattice House. In many places the name of the pub reflects local people, for example the Eric Bartholomew in Morecambe and the Mary Shelley in Bournemouth. Many regulars will be aware of this, but what is less well known is that each of their outlets, which number well over 900, has a carpet with a unique design. They cost between £20,000 and £30,000 and are made by Axminster, often on old fashioned looms which are necessary as the Wetherspoons carpets often contain a wider range of colours than the 4 or 5 typically found in a normal carpet. They are designed by the in house architects who are responsible for building or converting the pubs for the chain, and often incorporate patterns which echo the name of the pub, although not all are as obvious as the one for the Playhouse in Colchester with its theatrical masks.

It struck me that now this information is more widely known, that there is probably someone out there who would make it his life work to visit all the pubs and take pictures of the carpets. However I am too late as this project is well under way and you can see lots of the carpets illustrated on the website, where Kit Caless has collected together submissions from a wide range of people to form a mesmerising gallery of carpet designs. I didn’t spot either of the Lynn pubs on there, so you could be the first to add our designs to the gallery.

I don’t think Kit has been to them all himself, but I would wager that there are some guys who are well towards the end of a Wetherspoons odyssey, and have only just realised about the unique carpets, who are now kicking themselves at a lost opportunity, or perhaps relishing the opportunity to go round again.

Another thought that came to mind is that there may be some kind of hidden message in all these works of design. After all, Dan Brown has made his fortune writing about secret codes in old churches and the like. Perhaps there is room on the shelves for a story about our hero who has to visit endless Wetherspoons pubs to solve the code of the carpet. Then again, maybe such a ludicrous farfetched story would never sell, and I should stick with the much more plausible Da Vinci Code. Anyway, the theme has already been used in a novel, The Way Inn by Will Wiles, in which the Neil Double discovers the disturbing secrets hidden in the design and décor of a faceless hotel chain, so it might be too late for this as well. Still, the knowledge of the unique designs might come in handy if I ever find myself face down on the carpet in a Wetherspoons. Just inspecting the pattern, honest, M’lud.