“ The Charles Bradlaugh 1 Earl Street Northampton NN1 3AU. „
Pubs in Northampton's town centre, like any other, tend to be geared towards the young kids, a constant drone of chart and pop music ramped up to kill conversation and keep you drinking. If you're over 40 then The Mail Coach is the only pub who really offers something relaxed for the older clientele in the town centre area and so you are pushed out of the centre bowl to places like the Charles Bradlaugh if you want that vibe, the staging hostelry for the cool dressed in black crowd bar for their foray into the town centre, although the cotton wearing classes rarely mingling with the proletariat in Northampton.
Charles Bradlaugh was an interesting local character, a confirmed tee-total atheist/ pro feminist social reformer from the 19th century who represented Northampton as a liberal MP, an ironic patron for the pub these days as its usually full of Northampton's drunken student population that are not big fans of the Liberals today.
As I say the best way to describe the two story bar is it's the town center 'middle-class pub', the clientele 'studenty'/young professional/ urban trendy, the piped and DJ music tailored to that demographic, synonymous with the Richardson Group who own the pub. They have jazz nights on Sundays and Indy nights in the week to press that kudos and some of the clientele are so cool they even drink coffee at 11pm on a Friday night!
Based in an old converted shoe factory it was the 'in place' in the 1990s but the smoking ban and high beer prices has recently deterred the Northampton University crowd from trekking into town to enjoy its safe and laid back ambience. The bouncers have cob webs in their knuckle dusters for the lack of action here, the pub comfortably away from the main town centre drag so doesn't attract the baseball capped, cheap gold jewelry wearing polyester crowd. There is never trouble in here. If there is, its just some boorish drunk trying to impress his mates.
With excellent car parking and the town centre action just a five minute walk away it's a great starter pub for your night out if you want to avoid the working - classes. The beer prices are the main drag though and there are rarely deals or happy hours, although they will serve snacks on a Saturday night if you ask nicely. A pint cost £3:30p and the generic beer is Carlsbeg, also surprisingly expensive as it's actually brewed in Northampton. That funny taste of one of the most disgusting lagers you can buy under license in the U.K is the River Nene; by the way, the water hovered up out of the local river here. You can also ask for Connect 4 or Battleships to be really noisy on the corner table with your friends although the trend for pub board games is dying off fast here as it is rather naff. They do food but mostly basic snacks and salads at lunch time.
The reasonably sized summer beer garden is a cracker and the pub much livelier then in the warmer months. The girls are pretty and reasonably intelligent here and the guys look like they are straight from an ober styled indie band, mop tops and the Badly Drawn Boy the look today. It's an ok chatting up pub and not one of those loud banging tecno pubs that are designed to keep you drinking and not talking. Its is mostly groups of friends here and the most interaction goes on outside in the smoking area that edges the beer garden, a clever three walled shed that gets around the smoking laws and surprisingly cozy. But only the cool cats go out there in the winter. Parking is excellent with an onsite carpark and with no intrusive bouncers on the premises you don't feel threatened.
It is my local and after winning a champagne party for all my friends through a competition during the run up to Christmas I got to see the staff and operation close up. As I don't have hoards of mates these days I decided to give the free party to my teacher friend and her mates and then let the invite me to the party! Teachers have a tougher job than we think and the job suffering a very high attritional rate as the kids get rowdier and rowdier as the teachers have their powers stripped away to stop that. Teachers also scrub up rather nicely and so I thought I might get lucky. Alas I didn't get lucky although the champagne was lovely. I promise to invite you all next time.