- Waggon and Horses, Greyfriars -
Saturday 10th March 2018 brings quite a dank morning as I catch the slightly delayed 10:15 Manchester train out of Wolverhampton. The skies are grey and ominous when I reach Stafford ten or so minutes later but this does not deter some photography - Foregate Street and Greyfriars are in the immediate firing line as I spot the former Staffordshire General Infirmary (now a Carers Hub). The A34 also features the Waggon & Horses as a landmark pub near the Stone Road roundabout.
- Stafford Rangers Social Club -
Fancy Walk offers a sidestreet ferret in connecting me with Marston Road where I emerge opposite the Joiners Arms. There are some interesting ghost signs in the vicinity, remnants of old industrial buildings plus another pub (the Kings Arms). Marston Road is a name well known in non-league football circles as the home ground of Stafford Rangers FC; the club's main entrance is actually on Astonfields Road so I get a few photos there while groundstaff prepare for the fixture against Lancaster City (a 2-2 draw would later transpire).
- The Sandonia -
Passing the Astonfields Balancing Lakes, I join Sandon Road accompanied by the murmuring ripples of the Marston Brook. St Patrick's Church and a Christadelphian Hall offer photo pickings along with a sequence of further pubs, namely the Tap & Spile (currently closed), Princess Royal and Hop Pole. My star find is undoubtedly the remains of the Sandonia Cinema with its elegant carved stone facade; sadly the building has effectively been abandoned, the vestiges of its later use as a snooker hall still evident courtesy of a gurning portrait vaguely resembling Jimmy White.
- Lego sentry on Salter Street -
The Four Crosses heralds the bottom end of Marston Road as I pass the local prison on my way back into Stafford town centre. A lunchtime pint seems appropriate - the Vine Hotel on Salter Street is tempting (once I've said hello to a Lego character outside a nearby toyshop), but ultimately it's the Black Country Ales promise of the Shrewsbury Arms which secures my custom. A Salopian Brewery stout is absolute nectar, especially when paired with a curry and onion scotch egg - lovely!
- 8 at Parkside -
Though overcast, the weather is still largely behaving itself so a little bus ride is now in the offing. The number 8 is a cross-town service linking Moss Pit and Parkside, the latter of which appeals as an estate I've never visited before. Boarding my Arriva steed at Gaol Square, I settle back for a ride along Stone Road, passing the old Antelope Inn prior to navigating the residential reaches of Holmcroft. Parkside Avenue then reveals the terminus location just beyond the shopping parade.
- The Staffordshire Bull -
The precinct's stores include Parkside Bakery, Scott Paul hairdressers and a Lifestyle Express outlet, while the neighbouring pub is the Staffordshire Bull. I'm in two minds over whether to call in for a drink or not so the prospect of Manchester United vs Liverpool football action is a necessary means of persuasion - a nice pint of Sharp's Atlantic is my reward as the respective charges of Klopp and Mourinho do battle at Old Trafford.
- Holmcroft Library -
United won and the final whistle is my cue to embark upon a closing dose of estate exploration. Holmcroft fits the bill although the rain has now caught up with me, persistent drizzle setting in as I attempt to account for branch library, Holmcroft pub and St Bertelin's Church. The elements can't stop me enjoying my wander back along the Eccleshall Road either, and I dry off with a Slater's High Duck in the Butler's Bell Wetherspoons before catching my train home - cheers!