Home   What's On   News   Article

Secret Drinker's favourite landlords, barmaids and pub staff across Kent

‘Having a pint’ – it’s never been about the beer in the pot. It’s all about meeting mates, sharing stories, commiserating occasionally and hopefully enjoying a few celebrations together. The fact is, during lockdown I haven’t missed beer at all as I’ve kept plenty in the fridge. I’m sure that what you’re really missing, just like me, is our favourite way to enjoy beer.

To say landlord John at Ye Olde Chequers Inn is a right miserable so and so would not be unfair, but he does it so well the regulars love him
To say landlord John at Ye Olde Chequers Inn is a right miserable so and so would not be unfair, but he does it so well the regulars love him

A good pub is far more than just a building and always has been, it plays a vital role within society. It’s the place where we make and meet friends, somewhere that feels like home when we’re away from home.

And, more often than not, it is those behind the bar that make all the difference in turning a building, which simply serves beer, into a warm and welcoming social hub.

Over the last year I’ve met some fantastic, funny and friendly folk behind a number of bars in Kent and would like to share a few memories of them this week. Without them the pubs we love just wouldn’t be the same.

Some say they’ve never met a nice one, at least the Monty Python boys said that, but the South African fellow at the Cock Inn, Ide Hill must be bucking the trend. He takes a very hands-on approach and has been at the pub for five years.

The ‘no-frills’, upbeat, friendly atmosphere created at The Cock Inn is due, in no small part, to the staff and a particular South African gentleman
The ‘no-frills’, upbeat, friendly atmosphere created at The Cock Inn is due, in no small part, to the staff and a particular South African gentleman

Clearly knowing exactly what makes the place tick and understanding what his locals want. Prior to this residence he was at The Woodman just down the road for 13 years, so he certainly knows a thing or two about the area – a true gentleman and a credit to the place. Here's my full review.

But, you don’t always need to be an affable, jocular, upbeat character to win over the punters. Landlord John at Ye Old Chequers Inn, Tonbridge extracts real delight from insulting all his locals equally. And, the level of effing and jeffing he can inject into his favourite pastime is something to be admired. According to the regulars this landlord holds back his hospitable side for the visitors who haven’t got to know him yet! While I was in he took time to shower and change into a salmon pink jumper before returning to the bar to resume the insults. You can read more here.

It’s not always the bar staff that make the place either. At The Sennockian, Sevenoaks it was a couple dressed head to toe in black manning the door.

Claire at The Sennockian demonstrates what a fantastic addition good door staff are to any pub
Claire at The Sennockian demonstrates what a fantastic addition good door staff are to any pub

Well, being strictly accurate, manning and womanning the door, as Claire was one half, and dare I say it, the better half of the team. As I said at the time, there is nothing worse than unnecessarily heavy-handed door staff, but there’s nothing better than good ones. It’s not always easy striking the right balance, but these two were spot on and as the first faces you see they have an important role to play. My review on this excellent Wetherspoon pub is here.

One visit which will live long in my memory because of the people in the pub is the Queen Charlotte, Rochester. It was a screaming hot summer’s evening on the day I met my youngest ever customer – Annabelle Elizabeth, weighing in at six pounds, who was enjoying the pub at just 12 hours old. Landlord Richard, who was serving, collecting glasses, organising the barmaids and even filling in a health and safety form, casually mentioned he’d delivered his daughter before work earlier in the day – now that’s putting in a shift!

The atmosphere in the pub was great and everyone at this Craft Union boozer, from the youngest to the oldest,feels welcome and included. Read the full story here.

From the outside the Queen Charlotte looked like any other sports bar you might find on Rochester high street but inside the regulars were busy celebrating a happy arrival
From the outside the Queen Charlotte looked like any other sports bar you might find on Rochester high street but inside the regulars were busy celebrating a happy arrival

I only met the landlord of the Anchor Inn, Wingham after I’d already left as Kevin was sitting on the bench outside. And, even by his own admission, it was ‘er upstairs who must be obeyed’ who runs the pub. However, everything about Kev and the way he chatted told me immediately why this local hostelry had been turned around from a rough old place to a great community pub.

As the sign says, this pub keeps it real – the food, the ales, the music and the people. And accordion-playing Kev epitomizes everything about the place. Here's the review.

There is a saying which goes ‘Save the best ‘til last’, there’s also a saying which goes ‘You’re a feckin eejit’. Well, both are true at the Rose Inn, Kenningtonor at least they are when Mary’s on duty behind the bar. Oh yes, there’s something about Mary alright. From the second you meet her, to the moment she joins you at your table, until the second she bids you goodnight, you will be entertained by the Irish barmaid.

She might only work one night a week, but she’s fantastic value and, to be honest, once a week with Mary is probably plenty for everyone – what a truly wonderful character. Find out more about me and Mary here.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief gallop around a few local pubs and re-meeting some of the real characters I’ve come across over the last 12 months. I look forward to meeting up with you again, just as soon as we’re allowed to get back into our great Kentish pubs.

Read all Secret Drinker's pub reviews here

Follow Secret Drinker on Twitter

We're backing Kent's pubs with our Love Your local campaign - here's how you can get involved


More by this author


This website and its associated newspaper are members of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More