Saturday 9th March 2013
The Thistle Park Tavern is a little off the beaten track but is quite easy to find if you know where to look. It's in the Coxside district which is on the opposite side of Sutton Harbour from the Barbican, so beloved by visitors to the city. It was built in 1898 and occupies a corner position on Commercial Road. Historical research proved a little difficult but in the post war period I believe it was a pub of Starkey, Knight and Ford of Tiverton.
It is now a free house but has very close connections to the South Hams Brewery of Kingsbridge. This is because in a former guise this brewery was located next door to the pub. It was then the Sutton Brewery and I do remember visiting the pub and looking at the brewery in the adjacent building. Brewing was established on the site in 1993 and continued until 2003 when the 10 barrel plant was moved and renamed. It was CAMRA Plymouth Pub of the Year 1998.
The pub is very much a music venue and because of that please don't expect an exquisite decor in the traditional pub style. I visited on a Saturday afternoon and the landlord told me you couldn't move in there the previous evening. Friday and Saturday nights are the main music evenings but bands often appear on other nights. Please note that bands are on at midnight (actually 23.55 on the previous day, to avoid confusion), see below for hours of opening.
On my visit the beer opportunities were reduced because of the previous night's demand but there were still the following on offer: South Hams (Kingsbridge, Devon) Brewery XSB (4.2%), Eddystone IPA (4.8%) and a seasonal; Knickerdroppa Glory (5.0%). To complement these there was a St Austell (St Austell, Cornwall) seasonal beer for the Six Nations Rugby Tournament; Ruck and Roll (4.0%). There was also Thatcher's (Sandford, Somerset) Cheddar Valley cider (6.0%).
There is no food available in the pub but they have now opened Thai in the Park on the first floor which is open Sunday to Thursday from 18.00 to 22.00 and Friday and Saturday from 18.00 to 23.00.
If you are looking for a good outlet for a small brewery's beers you can do no worse than venture to the Thistle Park Tavern.
The Thistle Park Tavern, 32 Commercial Road, Coxside, Plymouth, Devon PL4 0LE
Tel: 01752 204890
Open: Sunday to Thursday 12.00-01.00; Friday and Saturday 12.00-04.00
There are no bus routes that serve Coxside. To get here from the Barbican cross by the swing foot bridge that crosses the entrance to Sutton Harbour, the original port of Plymouth. Please note this closes at 21.00. On the other side pass the National Marine Aquarium on your left side then follow a rather gloomy alleyway round the back of the building till you arrive at a road. Turn left and at the end you will see the pub on the opposite corner. Bus 25 serves the Barbican.