“ Address: 66 Overstone Road / Northampton NN1 3 JS / England „
T'was a dramatic night in Northampton at the Lamplighter pub last Saturday as the Floor and Blind store across the road gushed thick grey smoke as menacing flames threatened to lick passers bye, pints put down and last orders at the bar folks! The pub bravely remained open behind the police tape but it was clear to see it was a good time to be a no smoking pub. It recently had an expensive refit and you could see the bar staff and manager were very nervous. Fires aside normally the pub is packed on a Saturday night and a great place to go if you are not in that fabled 18-25 crowds lusting for tinny dance music, sex and shooters any more. That is me. But because it is on an urban town centre street this style of old fashioned pub is susceptible to this type of street property fire or cordoned off event. It's not the first time I have been in this type of pub when fire has raged at number 27. In fact one of its quirks is how cozy it sits in an urban terrace street setting with the next door neighbors washing clearly visible from the politely noisey and vibrant beer garden. In the old days when men wore caps and girls were only ever seen in long skirts and button up blouses many a normal street would have a pub on the corner.
The Lamplighter is located just off Northampton town centre on the Overstone Road and not that easy to find if you are from out of town. Its one of those pubs that wants to be ignored by the town centre pub crowd as it knows it customer base. Parking is never great in Northampton in the deadly traffic warden zone though where it sits. It's in the heart of the old shoe industry where derelict old factories with beautiful old signs and royal crests proudly display their forgotten history and heritage high above the walkway, a final act of defiance by the industrial revolution before being gobbled up by property developers to be converted into trendy loft apartments, a thousand chattering stitching machines and leather stretching devices long since silenced by cheaper South East Asian labor in equally crumbling factories.
It's in a lively urban part of town with lots of Polish immigrants, student types and young families taking up the post war terraced houses and private accommodation. Its one of those welcome lively pubs that you come across on the way into town and you finally realize you are no longer as young and gorgeous as you think you once were and so the perfect pub to go when you are over thirty but in no mood to accept that onset of age. The weekend clientele is twenty-something student types to older real ale boys and girls, the later often jammed into a pair of jeans two sizes too small, a very talky place with plenty of those keg beers to try. It is town centre prices so not a cheap night out. What it isn't, is one of those slightly edgy working-class pubs with a pool table, dart board and menacing tattooed balding men at the bar just off the building site ready to get loud and leery. There is never the slightest hint of trouble here and the clientele a good social class mix, perhaps one of the pubs with a higher IQ in Northampton, which there are not that many.
The bar is small but the boys and girls behind it are quick, and plenty of beer and ale choices to indulge, on tap and in the fridge, punters under pressure to try something exotic with a silly northern name. You can buy a range of obscure real ales straight from the barrels and they often host regular real ale and music nights, not uncommon to see fully decked out Morris Dancers in this eclectic and refreshing pub. Its one of the center piece pubs for the coming Northampton Music festival.
The pub prides itself on having great live bands most Friday and Saturday nights and they range from what you may see in a small tent at Glastonbury to a full on Blues band or a bit of Northern Soul. The disco straight after to the 1pm closing time also gets them up and a small intimate dance floor just adds to the cozy atmosphere.
Monday night is Open Mic Night where Performers get a drink on the house - Starts 8:45pm. Be warned, this ranges from poetry to very bad comedians. The Wednesday night pub quiz is free and a nominal £1 per pint for the first hour and everybody cheats on their smart phones but good fun. There are cash prizes and you get families and groups joining in.
Grub wise its standard pub fare you would get anywhere else although I have never eaten there. You can eat it in the small pub garden in the summer if you don't fancy the main area or in one of the many smaller cozy rooms upstairs on the end of winding staircases that add an extra intimate dimension to this pub, also great places to take your date at the weekend. The pub is confident in its clientele and so doesn't have its own website so I can't tell you how much food is. I wouldn't say it was a pub food place and there are far more geared up places around the same price in the nearby town centre.
On the whole it's the ideal place for the more mature customer (25-55) that wants to go out on Saturday night and not feel too old and still enjoy their favorite real ale and a good youthful atmosphere. It's always busy on Friday and Saturday night and plenty of spaces to escape the gentle bar crush. The recently heated beer garden full of those wobbly brown picnic benches host interesting and drunken conversations between the students and once were students crowd and nothing too rowdy or boozy since I have been going there. You can also walk down to the Charles Bradlaugh from The Lamplighter which has very similar clientele but more crumpet and a bigger beer garden so good that way. In a way the Lamplighter is that pub you have always been looking for now you are over 35.
Address: Lamplighter, 66 Overstone Road, Northampton NN1 3JS
Telephone: 01604 631 125