As Jimmy Carr quipped: you used to go to the circus to see the tattooed fat lady - now if you go down town on a Saturday night they're everywhere! In Northampton that is definitely the case, modesty not the name of our motto. If you're female and on a night out at the weekend the colder it gets the less they wear here. Don't get me wrong, we have some hot 'totty' but it just becomes a mass off boozed up young girls Saturday night as social class, etiquette and poise goes out of the window in pursuit of shots and boys. We do have some laid back bars and good places to have a boogie and the town centre certainly a magnet for partygoers in the Midlands but if your not young and gorgeous you don't feel part of that and so the middle-age pub beckons.
The smoking ban has hit pubs hard here with many closing down, or re-opening as gastro pubs, people put out of work for no real reason other than political correctness. The idea that pub goers are dieing from passive smoking is way over the top. The irony was that the people who smoked the most in pubs were the bar staff, why they took the job. One-in-four of Northampton's pubs are no more or under offer since the ban came in back in 2007.
The pubs where the young kids go to on Saturday night have the most problems of course. The Top 10 Pubs and clubs ranked by crime figures in Northampton for last year should be listed.
1. Lava & Ignite 190 crimes
2. NB's 94 crimes
3. Crush Nightclub 43 crimes
4. Chicago Rock Café 40 crimes
5. Revolution Bar 24 crimes
6. Edwards Bar 22 crimes
7. The Boston Clipper pub 20 crimes
8. Lloyds Bar 20 crimes
9. Motion Nightclub 18 crimes
10. The Jolly Anchor 18 crimes
Here is my A-Z of bars in Northampton.
A - Auntie Ruth's
It's the cool and trendy place to go in Northampton, members only and this the warm up bar to the Black Bottom Club, all jazz and groovy techno here, stuffed full of Northampton's young professionals and local sports stars. You can get in with another member or you female and sexy but the goons on the door won't let lads in if you're not a member. With a cool summer terrace bar and darkly lit sexy lounge you do feel like your in the place to be in Northampton here, why I'm not allowed in much. Membership is £120 a year!
B - Baroque Bar
Although the smallest popular bar in the town centre with its converted and intimate broom cupboard and rubbish bin alley smoking space to survive the ludicrous smoking ban its not a bad little place for a quick drink. Yes the music is too loud so you can't chat much and the beer expensive (2 Buds costing £7.60p!!!) but it's relaxed and the girls are pretty so the view ok. It is like going to a party in your living room.
C - Charles Bradlaugh
Once the only pub that drew the students into the town centre bowl from Northampton's factory like university up in the Kingsthorpe area its now much quieter , especially in the winter, although with its excellent beer garden and clever smoking area its busy in the summer with your more middle-class type drinker. It's often the case your friends want to go to a bar where their peers are and so this is the bar to go to for all you dooyooers in Northampton that hate loud tinny dance music and chavs, one seemingly inseparable from the other. Northampton is an upper working-class town at best and so these white-collar class hostelries quite rare.
It has two spacious floors and drinking areas and trendy DJs at the weekends. Beer is expensive though although the bar staff young and trendy and with jazz and live bands on in the week it is the safest venue in town, just hidden away enough from the main town centre pubs to avoid the roughians.
D - Downunder Bar
It's a 50s bar on the Wellingboro Rd, the main drag into town, a down the stairs job hence the name. Cellar bars always put me off and so I have only ever been in there a couple of times. Definitely for the older crowd although some of the crooners are fabulous and it has a real atmosphere to it. It reminds me of the Winchester Club in Minder.
E - Edwards
Is one of those bar/club places that popped up in the middle of the last decade as the drinking laws were relaxed. It's fairly working-class and with two levels and a dance floor it's very popular with the people that used to go in the now closed Chicago Rock Café, ironically put out of business by those late night licences. The CRC sign fell off the other day and nearly killed a pedestrian it's that dilapidated. Edwards does have a rep for the odd punch up and crime though so for your 30 and unders.
F - Fat Cat
This one has gone downhill a little over the last year or so with loud tinney dance music, attracting single moms with vulgar tattoos. Its saving grace is a beer garden for the summer months, full of smokers under the heaters and umbrellas. There's a black guy in the toilets from West Africa who almost certainly has no work visa but has everything you need to wash your hands after you have been holding your winkie half cut, and if you ask nicely he will line you up. I hate seeing these guys because it's embarrassing for both me and him to take that horrible job. If you try to make conversation everything is in rhyme and if you don't tip them they seem aggressive.
G - Goose on Two Streets
A big spacious Wetherspoons pub on Fish Street just down from the Baroque it's the place to go for cheap beer and food, two bottles of beer for under £5. You can stand or sit and with video screens and no music it's refreshing and relaxed. With a good mix of punters from bin men to admin assistant's no-one is really in here to impress on a Friday night are there for cheap beer and it feels good. They do food all day and some great deals there too, a much older family clientele taking over in the daylight hours. The toilets are an adventure though, like the trek you get to find cinema toilets.
H - The Headlands
It's my local but I never go in it, lots of brass rails and knobs to lean on to stare at those antiques on the shelves that always seem to be in this type of suburban pub. The tattooed locals sit around every night with lots of lads banter and the beep of the fruit machine flashing away in the corner where that ubiquitous old bloke sits. The pool table briefly lays idle until the builders white vans pull up outside on a Monday night and single men fill the space to get away from the wife and kids as the same week begins over and over again as if in Groundhog Day. At least there is no push and shove at the bars in these places.
I - Imperial Raj
Everyone likes an Indian and this relatively new restaurant on the Kettering Rd is rather nice as it doesn't attract the last orders crowd as it's off the main drag. Menu is a little more expensive but with its marble floors and friendly service and stylish decor it's relaxed enough for a works do or out with friends or the girlfriend. It's about a mile from town and the main pubs but there's a decent pub called the Picturedrome to have one if you're walking up there to break the walk, a must on a summer's night.
J - Jade Restaurant
Opposite a nice relaxed bar called the Picturedrome is an imposing old pavilion that houses the rather large Jade Restaurant, Far East cuisine and a cocktail bar a great place for a romantic meal or bash with mates, Pacific/Asian food delicious, especially Thai! The pavilion used to be the central piece of an 18th century race track that used to dominate the Racecourse Park it edges on to, hence the name. It's a little grubby from the outside but rather pleasant inside and not too pricey for this type of place. It's a shame the views from its Victorian wrought iron balconies are spoiled by old men on the bowling greens and gangs of asylum seekers, drunks and druggies that hang around in the sizeable surrounds.
K - King Billy
Situated at the bottom of Bridge Street it's out of sight unless you're looking for it, which is definitely the only reason to go here, the town's biker bar. They have live bands on busy nights with a decent beer garden as Goths, skater rockers and metal heads and bikers mix with general punters enjoying the bands. It's loud but relaxed in that biker way and only occasionally does the landlord whip out the baseball bat.
L - Lava and Ignite Club
Topped the crime list with 190 arrests in Northampton, purely because it's the town's biggest night club, a huge dance floor and various smaller areas sucking in the young crowd for a snog and boogie. It goes till 4 am and its shoes and shirt time for the boys and as little as possible for the girls. I have never liked English nightclubs and only been in there when it was under previous ownership in my younger days. It's tucked away off Bridge Street in St Peters Way but just follow the throngs, 1200 packed in at capacity.
M - Mailcoach
Perhaps the most laidback town centre pub its just off the main drag and so attracts an older crowd, very much a 25-40 something bar. The beer prices are town prices though and the bar area somewhat cramped and so be patient. It has those pacifying board games for the students and plenty of relaxing seating, the cosy garden nice in the summer and winter, this the bar used by the actors and performers from the Derngate Theatre next door before, during and after shows. I once saw Gary Wilmott in there! Well its only Northampton.
N - Nandos
Yep, we have one, opened last year and very popular with a nice central location. Its glass frontage has a great view of all the drunk revellers straddling one of the many fibre glass lions that adorn the town this summer in celebration of the World Cup.
O - O'Malley's
I suppose you could call this a 'lad's pub', a whole string of these places strung up and down the Wellingboro Rd catering for young working-class males, who may or may not be slightly right-wing and enjoy wearing certain lads brands like Stone Island and Burberry. They start at the Abington and have a pint in everyone until they hit the town centre bars and clubs, which, in the old days, resulted in quite a few rucks.
It's a noisey bar where the boys want to be loud and the girls louder to get their attention and so not a place to meet girls. It's all about drinking in here and you better keep up.
P - Picturedrome
This one is off the main drag on the Kettering Road opposite the Racecourse Park and quite a popular student/twenty something bar. Pretty people go there and they also have a cinema screen and stage at the bottom of the pub to show arty movies and sports events. They also have live music and comedy nights. It's the perfect local if you don't like the more traditional boozer. It's heaving on weekend nights although it's more of stay all night place as groups from the art college tend to congregate and sit on the big bench tables all night and standing space is squeezed. It's a good place to be though if you want to escape the proles, this, the more arty area of town.
Q - Queen Victoria
This is the sink estate punters pub of choice near the town centre, cheap tinny jewellery, polyester and tattoos the dress code. Imagine the darts crowd for the world championships and you're in the right ballpark. There are livery facilities to stable your status dogs with plenty of water and an old tyre for them to chew on to toughen up the teeth and jaws for the next illegal dogfight - and a smoking area called the toilets. If you have your ex girlfriend or football club tattooed on the back of your calf or forehead you can enter the VIP area.
R - Roadmender
The alternative music venue has all the live bands and comedy nights going on and has see a lot of big bands play here in their early careers. If they ever come back they know their careers are over. Its 'studenty' but comedy nights on Sunday are fun and the nightclub rooms play all the 70s, 80s, and 90s discos plus theme nights. You could say its Northampton's Hacienda Club but without annoying Manc's everywhere.
S - Serengeti Bar
This African themed bar on the Wellingboro Rd is the first real black African hang out in Northampton, the town exploding with immigration now, that drinking honour previously held by the Matafantanca Club back in the 1970s by the bus station for the Rastafarian clientele, which was spectacularly levelled in 1984 for excessive marijuana and drug use! White people don't seem to want to go into the Serengeti Bar because of its name and so it has become the place for black guys to drink. It's quite small but has Sky TV and various cable channels not normally found elsewhere. I watch cricket in there at lunch times in the winter because of those various satellite links form all manner of places.
T - Thomas O' Becket
The ubiquitous Irish pubs abroad are noting like the genuine article back home, this, the roughest pub in Northampton by far. Décor is anything the landlord can find in a skip and the clientele usually the Irish builders who put it in there. In the old days the hat would go around when the Irish national anthem was played and you were in no doubt where that money was going. It was the most challenging pub to go in the Monday night pool league, of which I played a lot back then and so know all the pubs well in the town..
U - Urban Tiger
The poor mans Spearmint Rhino, Northampton's biggest lap dancing club is not only the biggest employer of sexy Eastern European girls in Northampton but a rather sad place. I have been in once and it was rows of working-class men pawing at women in seedy booths and that was enough for me. I have never understood why guys would want to pay money to humiliate women, women that must feel utter contempt for them in reciprocation. I have no problem with the girls doing it as they make a good living but it's about as sexy and erotic as being groped at the bus stop. Members of the local Jesus Centre just 50 yards away in the town centre bowl are equally unimpressed and have twice tried to firebomb it in the early hours.
V - Vue Entertainment
Sol Central at the bottom of Gold Street is our town centre cinema complex with plenty of screens and its own bar and restaurants. We have another cinema complex out of town near the football ground at the Sixfields complex with multi-screens but a bit of a trek for non drivers. Early shows are cheaper although the first screenings tend to be at obtuse times like 4:15. You can pay between £3.50 and £6.00 for film now.
W - White Elephant
Once the student pub for the nearby Northampton Art and Design College it's not just another big and brassy pub that's half empty, no longer cool with the kids. The sound of pool balls being whacked can be heard most nights and they have a big screen for footy and a great 2-1 pizza deal. It's reasonably busy but not the lively place it used to be under Alex, the legendary bald bowtie wearing landlord in Northampton
X - xxxx
The naughtiest bar in town is the approximately named 'Jolly Anchor', a seedy pole dancing/stripper's pub that does both straight and gay nights. When the Queens are in its all leather and tight T-Shirts and when the straights are in it's exactly the same. This is not a place for females that don't have snake or a pole wrapped around them. I have only ever been in once and there were people having sex in the toilet cubicle. If you want something Soho seedy then is the place. It's on Gas Street down by the old gas works behind the Argos car park, deliberately out of sight.
Y - Ye Old Oak
Country pubs are under the most threat from the smoking ban and greedy pub companies and so the best ones should be enjoyed. England's pubs outside of the big towns maybe tranquil but always romantic and cosy in the winter and great for bunk up with girls in the sticks in the summer. This one is in Great Houghton, the nearest village to Northampton.
Z - Z is for Za Za
This is one of those 'shots' bars that get a bad rep because it does cynical drinks deals to get young people drunk quickly in loud noisy bars. But it's the young people who buy the drinks and if you're crazy enough to buy a thimble full of booze for £2 then you deserve all you get. It's no wonder so many girls get in trouble with sexual assaults (79% of all alleged rapes happening between Friday night and early Sunday morning in Northampton) at the weekends with this type of reckless boozing. Take responsibility for yourself girls because boys won't.
Northampton has recently seen the arrival of various new bars in town which, in my and many of my friends' opinions, has greatly improved the town's social scene in general and has helped to pull in punters from surrounding areas as well as more of the locals. New bars such as Revolution in Bridge Street and Edward's in The Drapery, as well as Goose and Yates' on Fish Street are some of the more popular of the arrivals and their somewhat more modern and 'designer' approach makes them very appealing to the punters, particularly in these cases, the younger crowd in search of somewhere which combines fairly cheap drinks (these bars often have various alcoholic drink deals such as 2 for 1, especially mid-week)with a fashionable surrounding. Their often minamilistic design and large interiors mean there's always enough space and often with an array of big sofas and chairs, they offer a comfortable and convenient place to meet friends. In the day, these bars are obviously quieter and provide a more 'chilled-out' place to relax, while at night they come alive and are bustling with people who flock here to get themselves in the mood for a night out. Often, at weekends, these 'new' bars have a DJ to provide music, another factor which attracts the younger punter.Good security and a relatively strict door policy means that you aren't too likely to witness fights or other drunken behaviour and maintains a relaxing and safe atmosphere. Other bars in this style are the recently refurbished Decadence(Bridge Street),formerly known as Tabasco Jaz. This, with it's unusual and cleverly themed interior and new outdoor 'Mediterranean-feel'area, is another highly popular bar. Places such as Bar Soviet and The Balloon Bar,also on Bridge St., although smaller,are also in this new, modern style and are also very popular, especially with the young. Bar Med on Gold Street is also a popular 'hang-ou
t'and can become rather crammed at night on the weekends when music is played. A dance-floor also makes this a rather convenient bar/club. Apart from these main bars, Northampton town is also home to various other bars and pubs such as Hogshead,The Drapery, which as a Nationwide chain of pubs, has a familiar, relaxed interior with reasonably priced drinks and is ideal to come for a quiet drink.Like many other Northampton pubs owned by chains, you can eat here for a very fair price. The Moon on the Square, in the market-place is also very good for fairly inexpensive food and drink and comes alive at the weekend (though no music means you are still able to hold a conversation with your companions). Pubs such as Sadler's on Bridge Street, and The Auctioneer in The Drapery are also very popular and appeal to the older crowd too because of their less-fussy, traditional feel.Sadler's also holds Karaoke nights in the week. As you can see, Bridge Street, The Drapery and Fish Street seem to be the epi-centre for the popular bars and pubs in Northampton but other popular bars and pubs such as Lloyd's at the top of Abington St. with it's large interior and upstairs terrace, are only a short walk away. I speak for many when I say how surprisingly good Northampton now is as a night spot with its many bars and pubs and I strongly recommend it to anyone.
Anyone that has ever passed the Frog and Fiddle on the main road out of Northampton, in Kingsthorpe, will have spotted the outdoor play area for kids. Prominently placed on the corner, it always looked like an attractive pub. When I was invited to a 'get together' there at lunchtime today, with a friend - we thought - great - we'll take the kids (both 3 years old). Off we set (18 miles down the road) both kids hyped up - looking forward to seeing some old work colleagues. Signs on the doorway - parents are responsible for their kids-must be kept at the table - fair enough - no-one wants unruly kids all over the place. Imagine our surprise, when we set foot in the pub, only to be accosted, within seconds, by (who I presume to be) the bar manager - to be told - you can't bring the kids in - we've got no license for kids ??????? Needless to say, we said hello to our friends (who unfortunately had already ordered food - otherwise we would have on mass left), and left to trudge back home. Why is a pub, who appears to be advertising the fact that they encourage kids by having play equipment & appropriate signs, not serving families???? Good question - needless to say I will not be going back there, and neither will any of the other 20 odd people that had gathered there - shame really because that means the pub will only have 3 other people in it at lunchtimes!
Its Sunday morning after a night out in my hometown of Northampton.I nearly pulled as a drunken divorce with nice eyes hung on to me before she passed out.I got a snog anyhow. If you have taken the easy route at Uni for a social degree then you will probably end up at somewhere like Nene(University) College in Northampton.Or you move here or down for a night out i can give you a run down on the night life.Don't worry,if your not into rock music then you can have an ok night here. The Wellingboro road is the main drag into the center with around twelve pubs mostly catering to the bluer collar with lots of lads with the shirts untucked and lasses wearing clothes according to their qualifications .ie the tighter the lesser Gcses passes.Posh Spice cuts compulsory. The best student pubs(Indie Juke box) are a couple of miles away at the main campus or The White Elephant near the central campus although sometimes on the colder January Saturdays the studes can be out numbered by a more colorful clientele. Town center has the biggest concentration of pubs and bars like most places with at least 30 mostly piped dance and techno chart dross themed places for the boob tube brigade,and technicalcollege girls. The Rat and Parrot is the primary hub of Northampton's nightlife as its the largest bar with the loudest pop. The heavies on the door are not to picky so footy fans might sneak in with trainers although most bars don't allow it This is one of life's great mysteries why we are not permitted to wear sneakers in most bars on weekends bit like the mystery of why there are no motorbikes advertised on TV.Or why we don't see white dog poo anymore.Weird. Anyhow The Parrot is busiest at 9 to 9 30 as the "in" crowd moves on to Bridge street and the more smaller wine bar type places house the under 16s looking to get pregnant in their teens and the young kids wearing clear color framed glasses trying to look cool. Ta
basco Jazz is probably the best bar down there as its big and very Miami Beach with more jazz fusion trendy live DJ tunes over the formula crap.Watch out for the invisible steps that are heading for a law suit soon. There's a night club right at the end of Bridge street opposite the Carlsberg brewery but its a little of the beaten track so it attracts a samey crowd(fiver to get in after 10.30) . Thers also a bikers pub called The King Billy here but you need to be a fire eater or sadist to get in. The main club is Visage which is a factory type setup,standard tunes for standard people and party groups.Queues are long before the full price kicks in Seven pounds plus after the 11 o'clock cut off.They can jam in a couple of thousand people so there's room for all.Not for the serious cool clubber cats. Students with brain cells tend to congeal at The Roadmender that has different themed club nights with Indie and cool dance nights.Its down the road behind the Job Center near the main bus station.Fiver plus to get in. There are other clubs in the center but they are a touch tacky and i cant imagine any dooyooers to be into that scene.Legends night club being the main offender.Everyone under 40 can get in here folks.Over 40s have to go way out of town to Glenville's near Billing village which is an A typical knocking shop that the middle aged have to put up with adding to the degradation of age. If you want a real middle class student young professional place then you cant get better than the Charles Bradlaugh which has a good juke box and piped music(no techno)with a very relaxed feel with lots of classy thoughtful totty but they are very clicky here and a shag is tricky. Alex the barman is a bit of a character in Northampton and makes you very welcome with his strange sense of humor.Sadly though the more art studenty types don't like to be bumped when they are in their cool clothes.Black is the color to be seen in. Thi
s lot usually track of to The Roadmender or the more up market Auntie Ruth's late bar where the Northampton glitterati hang out(The Saints rugby players and Jeffrey from Rainbow).Its members only or a friend in free for a tenner.Next to the central Lloyds bank. If you endure the bright lights of Northampton most weeks they quickly become predictable and dim.But if your here for the weekend or college you can have a solid night out unless you like Rock or the more sophisticated select stuff ,then Brum is more your ideal hang out. On the whole though its a typical commercial expensive drink town where you are processed every weekend ending up thirty pound light.Plenty of take aways on all routes out of the center.Nofuntown,Northampton.get it!.