ROLLESTON ARMS – SWINDON

Rolleston Arms
Commercial Road
Swindon
SN1 5NX

FIRST VISIT: THURSDAY 3 APRIL 2014

The Rolleston is a bit of Swindon institution but it’s seen better days. It’s been run down, threatened with closure, temporarily closed, reopened, run down, threatened with closure… (repeat to fade). But it’s standing.

Outside is the good old Greene King logo. Nice and big to make it easier for you to avoid the place. But it’s no longer a GK pub. Or, if it is, they don’t bother having a hand in the beers that the place sells. There were a loads of big brand kegged products that you find in most mainstream pubs. The cask list offered London Pride (these days Swindon is practically a suburb of London), Doombar (we are sort of in the West Country) and Purity’s Mad Goose (our friends to the north). Naturally, I opted for a Mad Goose. It’s a good beer and I’ve long preferred it to Purity’s more famous Ubu. In the fridge, alongside the alcopops and mixers, were bottles of Bombardier, which seemed like a slightly odd choice for the only bottled beer. I took my beverage to a chewed up but comfy leather sofa.

The Rolleston is a decent sized L-shaped boozer. It looks like and feels like a pub. You can sense the regret and lost opportunities as soon as you step through the doors. ‘If only I hadn’t discovered Doombar, I could have been a contender.’ There’s artwork on the walls. Artwork that you can buy, if you so desire. That’s long been a feature of the Rolleston. They don’t just sell beer. They give wall space to local artists. And they host live music. And, according to bits of paper placed strategically around the place, they do the best Sunday Roast in town – just like another 20 or so places. There’s free Wifi but only for 30 minutes but if you hang around longer you might get to re-log back in. I didn’t hang around for 30 minutes. I scooped my pint in about 25 then headed of on quest to discover Yeastie Boys.

The Rolleston is better than I remembered. I won’t be rushing back but I won’t be avoiding it with quite the fury that I once did.

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