Pub/Bar of the Month October 2015: Swan with Two Necks, Pendleton, UK
Swan with Two Necks, Pendleton, UK
We all know that a pub stands or falls on the commitment of its licensees and the Swan with Two Necks is a wonderful illustration of this principle.
This stone terraced pub – a former farmhouse – has a pleasant village setting, a few miles from the town of Clitheroe.
The benches outside overlook a stream that, unusually, runs down the middle of the main road, but it's what goes on inside that makes the pub what it is.
Steve and Christine Dilworth have been here for twenty-eight years and they have turned this comfortable free house into not just a vibrant community local but a national award winner.
Taking the title of CAMRA's Pub of the Year in 2014 was a just reward for more than a quarter-century of dedication.
What lies behind the Dilworths' success? A number of factors. When I dropped by, late on a drizzly Sunday afternoon, I expected the bar to be quietly ticking over at best. Instead, I struggled to find a seat.
The place was teeming with customers, some perched up at the bar sampling the cask ales; others happily tucking into platefuls of home-cooked pie, and yet there was still room for a few folk who just wanted to play a hand of dominoes. All interests covered, it seems.
It's the Buzz
The opened-out main bar fills the front part of the pub, cushioned benches providing the seating and a large collection of teapots and plates adding the décor. A stone fireplace stands at one end, the bar at the other.
Just behind is a snug with a few tables ('The Vault') from which a short flight of stairs leads to a small dining area.
But it's really not the fabric of the place that makes it so successful. It's the buzz. This is a pub for people of all types and ages. It's friendly, conversational and has a great vibe.
There are teams for darts and dominoes and the food is generous and sensibly priced.
In summer, the garden at the back is beautifully tended and provides views of the rolling Lancashire countryside, including the infamous Pendle Hill, haunt of the so-called 'witches' of the seventeenth century.
But a major part of the success of the pub – as CAMRA noted – must be down to the quality of the cellarmanship. There are seven handpumps on the bar.
Two are given over to cider and one serves Golden Pippin, the Copper Dragon beer that is now brewed by Greyhawk in Skipton.
The other pumps dispense guest beers from near and far, with one reserved for a mild and one for a strong ale.
Landlord Steve Dilworth recognises the importance of keeping good beer to the well-being of the pub, even if he does reveal an unorthodox approach to cellar management.
'Talking to the barrels has finally paid off!,' he joked when presented with CAMRA's highest pub honour, but maybe there is something in that. Never underestimate the importance of communication.
Some licensees don't even talk to their customers. And they wonder why their pubs fail.
Swan with Two Necks, Pendleton, Lancashire BB7 1PT.
Tel. (01200) 423112
Opening Hours: 12–2.30, 6–11; 12–11 Monday; 11–11 Saturday; 12–9.30 Sunday (10.30 in summer)