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Pub Visit - England

Symposium1Thursday 31st March 2016

Bob Thompson

Micropubs come in many different guises and this one is unlike most. Undoubtedly a member of the genre on size alone, it varies from the norm in several ways. It serves several different functions. When Linda and I visited just after opening time at 12.00 it was more café than bar. One guy was nursing a half and there were two others who were on pints. The rest of the customers were not consuming alcohol.

Symposium2I would guess that through most of the middle of the day it operates in this manner. Soup of the day seemed particularly popular although there were many other “snackettes”, as they call them, available.

There are all kinds of dips and things to dip into them. They serve pork and other meat pies, also sausage rolls and scotch eggs from Grimshaw’s of Bryn.

Linda was specifically interested in a cake which she duly tested and pronounced it very good. They are baked by Anita from the Gingerbread Bakery in Wigan.

Symposium3We were baffled by the name and it was explained on a menu. I copy the quoted extract from the Collins English Dictionary: Symposium: (plural) -siums, -sia (-zɪə) (in classical Greece) a drinking party with intellectual conversation, music, etc. So now we know. I presume the “Doc’s” part of the name comes from a shortened version of the owners’ name, see below.

The pub was opened by Chris and June Docherty in August 2014. They say it is their semi-retirement project. The premises became vacant when Higham’s Florist moved to a new location. It is situated in a modern block of retail outlets across the road from Mesnes Park and there are outside tables and seating under a red and white awnings that shade from the sun in summer. Inside it is a medium-sized room with the service area on the left, firstly is a glass-fronted chilled cabinet which is framed in oak which extends to become the bar counter.

Further along is a shelf with five stools beneath. At this point the wallpaper depicts a dry stone wall, a little odd. The back wall is again covered with wallpaper. This time I think it is of illustrations from Alice in Wonderland. There are a couple of short shelves for upright drinking and in the far right corner there is a cast iron stove. At first I thought this was the real deal but after a while I noticed the flame was very consistent so I suppose it is a gas fire.

Symposium4In front of the bar service area is a tall wooden table with matching chairs. On the right side there are leather sofas facing into the room with loose tables and chairs in front. You can look out of the front window sitting on one of four more stools resting your beer on a shelf fixed across the front of the window. The remainder of the furniture is loose wooden tables and padded chairs and chairs.

The room is exceptionally light and all the furniture is of high quality, being of polished wood. Fresh flowers in vases decorate each table. It was a bright day so we could appreciate all this. There are five hand pumps on the bar, please see below details of the beers offered.

Symposium5We had a choice of the following beers: Martland Mill (Wigan, Greater Manchester) D-Day Dodgers (4.1%); York Brewery (York, North Yorkshire) Guzzler (3.6%); Prospect (Standish, Greater Manchester) Silver Tally (3.7%); Facer’s (Mynnydd Y Flint / Flint Mountain, Flintshire) DHB (Dave’s Hoppy Bitter) 4.3% and Irwell Works (Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester) Breadcrumbs (3.6%). A great selection of lower and medium strength bitters.

We asked about real ciders but they don’t do them anymore, just some keg Spanish stuff.

So, slightly odd it may be, this pub is great for cask beers (and cakes!). Please check below the days that it is open, it surprised us.

Important Information:

Doc’s Symposium, 85 Mesnes Street, Wigan WN1 1QJ. Tel: 07462 896822

Hours: Thursday-Saturday 12.00-23.00; Sunday 13.00-22.30. Monday-Wednesday: Closed

The pub is located just outside the town centre. From Wigan North Western station (trains from London, Warrington, Preston and Liverpool) turn right into Wallgate. Wigan Wallgate station (trains from Manchester, Bolton and Southport) is on the opposite side of the road.

Soon you will be in Market Place, the centre of the town. Turn left into Market Street. Walk down here to the end. Turn right into New Market Street and immediately cross this street. The park will be on your left. Turn left at the lights. You will soon see the pub on the right side of the road.