Published: 06:00, 02 April 2021
A website has been launched to celebrate a town's best boozers with a Monopoly-inspired pub crawl.
So with pubs due to reopen in just over a week, it's time to stick on your top hat, fetch the dog - but maybe leave the iron at home - and embark on a tour of Maidstone's finest inns and alehouses.
And there's never been a better time to celebrate the best of the County Town, following the recent news that its landmarks are to be immortalised in its very own edition of the iconic board game.
The Maidstone Pubopoly project - which we must stress is in no way affiliated with the game itself - sees popular drinking establishments allocated to each square of the Monopoly board and is the brainchild of Steve Cheeseman and his pals.
They dreamt up the idea years back after undertaking a similar pub crawl around the London locations featured on the classic board for his 30th birthday, and thought why not do something similar for their hometown.
"We were sat in the back room of a pub around Christmastime talking about how we could apply this to Maidstone, could we do a Maidstone version?
"We started naming pubs and and picking where we thought would be Old Kent Road and where we thought would be Mayfair, and eventually we had a list of far too many pubs and we sort of made a board out of it.
"We've been sitting on this for a little while now and thanks to the lockdown and a bit of time I've managed to put it together into a Maidstone version of the Monopoly board pub crawl."
In all 26 pubs made the cut - although Mr Cheeseman is keen to stress that no one should attempt to have a drink in each in one day.
The website allows visitors to view the pubs either in order they appear on the board - from the Muggleton Inn right round to the Market House - or by how far they are from each other, useful for those trying to take fewer steps between pints.
One town centre pub which has made it onto the board is The Style & Winch in Union Street, which the Pubopoly creator describes as "a traditional pub which combines the atmosphere of a comfy local with a vibrant town centre bar".
Landlord David Savory says he is delighted to have been included, saying they have captured the character of this pub perfectly.
"With lockdown easing and hospitality reopening, hopefully this will encourage people to come out and support their local pubs," he said.
Mr Cheeseman, a 36-year-old former Oakwood Park Grammar School pupil, says promoting Maidstone's local, independent boozers is a key aim of the project.
"A lot of these places on the board are not big national chains, they are small family-run businesses in most cases," he said.
"They really need our support so if I can do anything to sort of drive bit more trade for them that's great, and it's just coincidental that Winning Moves have decided to create a Maidstone Monopoly board at the same time really, which is quite handy."
The plans for a special County Town edition of the board game were announced earlier this month and people have been asked to submit their ideas for local landmarks to be included in the game.
It is hoped the game, which should be released in the autumn in time for Christmas, will help promote the best of Maidstone and the surrounding borough, and potentially help lure more visitors to the area.
Maidstone Museums director Victoria Barlow said: "We are very excited at this opportunity to put Maidstone on the map, or on the board at least.
"The museum is just one of the brilliant landmarks we'd like as part of the Maidstone Monopoly game. We can imagine an iron on Week Street, a top hat at the Archbishops Palace or a giant dog outside the Town Hall.
"It would be great if visitors were drawn to the County Town and everything we have here because of something they found in the Community Chest."