Thursday 30th June 2016
I would guess that this pub is a godsend to travellers. It’s around 150 yards (or metres) from the front door of Hove railway station. Ideal if you are changing trains. I wonder how many have been missed since it arrived on the scene? In fact, it opened its doors for the first time on 1st May 2015 at 17.00, so was just over a year old when I visited.
The inspiration behind its creation came from two couples: Rick and Ruth Evans, together with Dave and Ali White. The catalyst moment occurred when they visited the Tankerton Arms in the town of the same name, close to Whitstable in Kent. Its owner Nigel Ranger was a friend from times past. They thought that the Brighton & Hove conurbation was crying out for its first micropub, and they’re probably correct.
Their first thoughts were on a property in Richardson Road in Aldrington. It was York House Wines Off Licence but the sale was cancelled at the last moment. In retrospect, as Dave said, it was a blessing as they all regard the current location to be a much better option. In fact, it is difficult to imagine anywhere more suited; it is surrounded by shops and there is continual procession of potential customers walking past.
The premises were last used as a second-hand electrical shop and the two couples have spent a considerable amount of time and money in establishing it as pub. When the shop opened its first use was as a watchmakers, hence its name.
I was visiting on a weekday lunchtime and the pub was not particularly busy. However I understand this changes in the evening and at weekends. The front of the building is shaded by a tree. I entered through the door which is on the left side of the building. Inside I found a light and airy room that benefited from the two large windows that were garlanded with hop bines.
Either side of the central aisle there are a pair of tall tables along with some high stools and chairs. There are wooden bench seats along the walls.
Further along I found the small bar counter on the right of the room with a couple more tall tables either side. According to the wooden sign on the wall this is the “Sussex Room” The right side wall is more decorated than the front of the pub with a row of wrist-watches hanging from it. What else in this pub?
It was around here that I encountered the pub’s dog which I believe is named Muffin. A quick sniff of my trouser leg and it quickly returned to its dog bed and went to sleep.
I thought the bar area was particularly attractive. It is made with wood taken from the original walls when the room was renovated. There is a nice wall-mounted clock. As can be expected there are many timepieces here and some of them work.
The beers are dispensed from a cool room situated behind the bar. To the left is a wide corridor that leads to the separate Ladies and Gents facilities on the left. On the walls, there is a display of pump clips representing the many beers I am destined not to drink. However a fact that I was unaware of until I researched this article is that this pub now has its own brewery. It is at the back and is of 100 litre capacity. It is known as Beercraft Brewery of Brighton and its brewer is Jack Tavaré.
Sadly there weren't any Beercraft beers on sale when I visited but there was a good range nonetheless. This comprised of: Pig & Porter (Tunbridge Wells, Kent) Dance First Stout (4.2%); Downlands (Small Dole, Henfield, West Sussex) Best Bitter (4.1%); 360˚ (Sheffield Park, East Sussex) Dampfbier (4.4%); Hurst Brewery (Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex) Keepers Gold (4.4%) and Saltaire (Shipley, West Yorkshire) Elderflower Blonde (4.0%). The selection is always changing.
Cider Drinkers would not have been disappointed, as there was: Kentish Pip (Bekesbourne, Kent) Forager (added berries) (4.0%); Seacider (Ditchling, Wast Sussex) Bloodorange (4.6%); Garden Cider (Chiddingfold, Surrey) Vintage Dry (6.0%) and South Downs Cider (Wilmington, East Sussex) Medium (4.5%).
There is a selection of wines available including some from Sussex and Prosecco. There is a bewildering array of different flavours of sausage rolls and some pork pies on offer. Both of these come from bakers McStrongs of Brighton. There are the usual soft drinks and packaged snacks including McStrong’s pork scratchings.
This pub is well worth visiting and is easy to get to if you are in the area.
The Watchmakers Arms, 84 Goldstone Villas, Hove, East Sussex BN3 3RU
Tel: 01273 776307
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 12.00-14.00, 17.00-21.00; Friday: 12.00-14.00, 17.00-23.00;
Saturday 12.00-23.00; Sunday 12.00-15.00. Monday: Closed
Hove railway station is served by trains operated by Southern from London (Victoria), Brighton, Worthing, Littlehampton and Portsmouth. There is an infrequent service provided by Great Western Railway to Southampton, Salisbury, Bath, Bristol, Newport and Cardiff.
The bus stops outside are served by Brighton & Hove
routes 5, 5A, 5B, 7, 21, 21A, 95A, N5 and N7.