Wednesday 10th August 2016
Occasionally whilst researching a pub article I come up against a brick wall when it comes to information about it. Unfortunately, that is the case here. I haven’t even got a firm lead on why it has this particular name. A Slater’s Pick is a real tool that is still used. Of course, it is shaped exactly like the sort of Pick you would use to break up a road surface, only smaller. For use on roofs, I guess it is used to lift tiles or slates.
Why the pub should possess this name is another mystery. I looked at the Sherlock Holmes connection as it is located in Baker Street as this link is used in the names of the two other adjacent micropubs. Maybe there is a story where a murder weapon is a Slater’s Pick. Any input on this vexing question would be greatly appreciated.
What I do know is that the pub opened in May 2016, just three months before my visit. It is the concept of Mark Waters and is housed in what was the former Sugar Cubes Sweet Shop and joins Sherlocks and the Twisted Lip to form the latest member of what is a trinity of Baker Street micropubs.
It actually faces across Baker Street which is quite narrow, to Sherlocks micropub, which itself is separated by one house from the Twisted Lip pub. A pub crawl that could literally be done crawling!
The frontage of Slaters Pick is very attractive as its lower parts are covered with shiny dark green brickwork. However I think the green artificial turf in the entrance is probably a step to far.
Once inside I could see that the pub is decorated in a style that is very much in your face. The front door is on the right of the narrow building and first thing I noticed was the brick-built bar counter on the left of the room. This has a glass top through which I could see a massive collection of penny coins. I moved my eye around the room in a clockwise manner and will describe what I saw below.
Abutting the counter was an old red phone-box or was it? Closer inspection revealed that it was a wooden replica. It had me fooled for a short time. Beyond this the wall has been stripped back to the brick. There is an old fireplace in the middle with a small alcove either side. In the first of these is an old radiogram and I wonder if they use it for vinyl nights. There are shelves of books and artefacts with old suitcases (?) above.
I don’t think the fireplace is usable as it was filled with more ornamentation. Beyond it the alcove has a small fitted bench suitable for a single person. We are now at the rear of the room and the door that leads out to the outside drinking and no doubt smoking, area. Quite what the significance of the large USA flag is that is hanging from the wall in yard has, is not known.
Looking along the left side of the room there are grey-painted walls and there is a nice black wooden bannister which provides access to an emergency exit.
On the wall over the way out to the yard there is a display of old clock faces. It amongst them is a real clock showing the correct time, which is rather deceptive. There’s copper topped round table with three chairs and a stool.
Next along is a green stuffed two-seater bench. Then, towards the main door, the wall is against exposed brick and there is a circular tall table with high chairs.
I suppose the bar room interior is best described as haphazard. However, when I climbed the stairs to the toilets, I noticed here that it was just plain bizarre with corrugated iron walls and an old bicycle by the gents.
Back to the bar or more precisely what was being served from it.
There were four hand pumps and on the day I visited they dispensed: Rooster’s (Knaresborough, North Yorkshire) YPA (Yorkshire Pale Ale) (4.1%); Thwaite’s (Blackburn, Lancashire) Original (3.6%); Pig & Porter (Tonbridge, Kent) Summer Stout (4.2%) and The Slaters Pick (3.9%). I did ask where this house beer was brewed but I have forgotten the reply, I should have written it down! However I think it was from Durham area, possibly Sonnet 43 of Coxhoe. I had it and it was very good, being in the American Pale Ale style. The pub also serves wines and spirits.
Well, that was the last of the trinity of Baker Street micropubs. All of them are worth visiting if you should ever be in the (once) cask ale desert that is Middlesbrough.
Slaters Pick, 10 Baker Street, Middlesbrough, TS1 2LH
Hours: Monday-Sunday 11.00-23.00
The pub is close to many bus stops and is about ten minutes from the bus station.
From the railway station the best way is to walk. Leave the station by the main exit. Turn left and go down the steps. Turn right at the bottom. Cross over the dual-carriageway road. Continue in the same direction. Cross over Corporation Street and keep on. The Town Hall is on your left. Then you will come across Grange Road on the right with a glimpse of the Infant Hercules micropub. Ignore it (for now) and keep going. The second of two more streets on the right is Baker Street. The three micropubs are near the other end.
Middlesbrough is served by many trains. From the south the most useful is the hourly Trans Pennine Express service from Manchester, Leeds, York and many other places on the way. There is a Northern rail service from Darlington and another from Newcastle via Sunderland.