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Leicester Mercury Jan 2005
Article From Leicester Mercury Supplement January 2005
Shops prides itself on taking you to the swankiest places in town. If its new and nice (and sometimes if its nasty)you can be sure we`ll dip our toes in the waters, cocktails, spirits and beers and tell you all about it.
But sometimes Shops likes to head off the beaten track. Even we like an occasional break from "trendy".
So when we heard we could get a decent pint of bitter for £1.30-ish at recently refurbished city pub The Shakespeare`s Head, we decided it was time to sample its unknown delights.
The closest most readers will have come to this arguably not-externally-beautiful, horse-shoe-shapes pub is whizzing past it as they drive through Southgates underpass, near Vaughan Way.
The pub sites atop it, bordered, effectively, by a car park, a bus depot and a sheer drop.
It was built in the 1960`s- a significant fact because it defines everything about it.
While other 1960`s pubs have long since succumbed to modernisation (or demolition), The Shakespeare's Head has clung on defiantly to the period it was built to define.
Take the entrance. Two glass doors lead to a small bar and reception area. A "public bar " leads off to the left, a "lounge" to the right.
It`s a familiar set up to most of the drinking population, but one that comes a little closer to extinction every time an old pub is modernised.
In the brightly lit public bar, there`s a pool table and dartboard. In the lounge, the lights are lower and the seats, which are neatly laid out around copper-topped tables, more comfortable.
There`s a selection of puzzle books in one corner, which captures the fact that this thoroughly retro pub belongs to a gentler more innocent era.
Thar`s not "retro" as in somebody's ironically hung it with 1960`s swirly wallpaper and decked it out with plastic furniture, by the way.
There`s absolutely nothing trendy or funky about The Shakespeare`s Head. There`s also nothing pretentious or contrived about it.
It`s warm, clean, friendly and comfy, and we had a thoroughly nice time, particularly as our two pints and two cokes came to less than a fiver.
If you like a young, noisy crowd, loud music, modern decor, alcopops and scantily-clad poppets, don`t even think about it.
If you`re looking for that rare animal, a city pub where you can have achat. feel safe, drink a sensibly- priced pint and feel nostalgic about an era you might never have witnessed, give it a go.
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leicester chronicle Nov 07
40 years of Shakespeare
Some things never change.. and at the Chronicle that's just the way we like it. Here`s our look at the gems of Leicester; the pubs, shops and places where time stands still. They never quite got round to calling time in the Shakespeare`s Head. Built in 1964 the only concession to the passing years has been the occasional lick of paint, writes Les Marlow. That's the way the customers like it- and, as long as landlady Ruth Rodger has her hands on the beer taps, that's the way it will stay. "I hate all those poncey new pubs which try to fake their old-fashioned authenticity," she grumbles. "They must think we`re daft and can`t tell the difference." The Shakespeare's Head opened in Southgates in the year that Harold Wilson was elected Prime Minister. Seven PM`s on,it`s much the same as it ever was:a big brutal lump of a building. "I quite like it," reckons Ruth,42."But I still think we`re still bit to close to the 60`s to appreciate it fully.I think in 20 or 30 years,it will be even more striking." Walk past the original busts of Shakespeare through the original double-fronted doors and you`ll find a pub dominated by the original bar. "We`ve got the original lettering on the toilet doors too,"says Ruth. "I did get rid of the mirrors, which had a ghastly pink tinge to them,and we`ve had a new carpet, but that's it." You might half expect to hear the beatles singing Love Me D on the jukebox-except the pub doesn't have a jukebox. "there`s no TV;no load music,and we only do food on Sunday and cobs on Saturday night, if they`re hungry.It`s a proper pub-darts, cards, pool.That`s it." The Shakespeare's Head is on Southgates,Leicester,LE1 5SH phone 01162624378