The Tears of a Clown

Now if there's a smile upon my face…

The Malt Cross, Nottingham

Sometimes we’ve all been guilty of ignoring a little gem from right under our noses and this was the case with me and The Malt Cross in Nottingham until the past year or two. I always knew imageof it’s existence just off the Old market Square in the city centre on the pedestrianised St. James Street, adjacent The Bell Inn, but never visited. I wasted some time because the converted music hall dating back to 1877 is a beautiful and interesting place to find oneself for a quiet pint and tasty snack early evening after work or to listen to the good quality live music that the venue sports.

Built on two floors, the upper area is an oval balcony that looks down on the throng below and also the small stage which is curiously situated at a height between the two floors at one end of the building. Presumably this would have been where the original music hall acts of the Victorian era would perform and heavily harks back to that age.

As well as an impressive and historic structure, The Old Malt Cross has pleasant, friendly and efficient staff which means those dreary and frustrating queues for drinks or usually absent, even at the peak of a busy Friday night in Nottingham’s city centre.

Being so close to the main cut and thrust of Nottingham’s pub life one might imagine it to possess some of it’s less salubrious characteristics but this is firmly not the case. Whilst this is a pub with a generally young clientele, the Hens and Stags in their various paraphernalia and the gaggles of hard-drinking youths in their shirt-sleeves are just not interested in this place. It seems to hold no appeal for them (thankfully). Perhaps this is due to the preponderance of students that seem to gather in the place but it should be stated straight away that this bar does not have the atmosphere of a ‘student pub’. The younger crowd that tend to gather in The Old Malt Cross are an exceedingly decent and pleasant lot. Age is not a barrier to enjoying a drink or a snack upstairs or down.

imageThe upper level

On some evenings a DJ and his decks operate in the corner of the ground floor at a very listenable volume whilst still being able to talk with friends over the music. What is really surprising is the eclectic mix of music being spun on any given night, visitor is just as liable to hear a little Led Zeppelin being played as much as dance music. I like this idea of music for all tastes in a pub and am far more likely to listen to someone else’s tastes because of it. This all-inclusive attitude is one that more bars should experiment with I believe.

image image

Add a decent suite of drinks on draft at fair prices to all of the above and I believe one has a winning formula. I’d like to think so.

There’s no doubt that The Old Malt Cross feels like something of a quiet oasis in the middle of the busy city, not only during a quiet early evening as people rush by on their way home from work but also when stepping inside a full pub and out of some of the madness immediately out on the streets outside. If you’re passing this way way try it. I’m sure you’ll find a it a refreshing change.

May 16, 2009 - Posted by | On The Road, Times Gone By | , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. Love it. One of my favourite places for a lunchtime liaison (one of the others being the Alley Cafe). Nottingham has some brilliant pubs and cafes like this if people are willing to seek them out. Have you found the ‘Hard to Find Cafe’ on Mansfield Road yet? Another place with atmosphere in abundance.

    Why anyone would ever go into a Starbucks with gems like these in the city is beyond me.

    Comment by Alan-a-dale | May 21, 2009

  2. Yes, I really like the ‘Hard to Find’. Handily situated near The Lincolnshire Poacher too – one of the last bastions of ‘sensible’ drinking! I’ve tried the Allay Cafe but was looking for somewhere to have a chat that night and well…it was a Friday night! Nice place though.

    Comment by Stuart | June 4, 2009

  3. As a Hibs-loving, ex-Nottinghamite (now Derby!) I must thank you Stuart for alerting me to the Old Malt Cross – and allowing me a re-frisson at Riordan’s cool penalty v the dastardly Gorgies.

    I am interested in Victorian Musical – ie wd really love to have been there – but never realised The Old M was such a venue – will rectify soon.

    Incidentally – please read Peter Ackroyds Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem – its set in Victorian music hall milieu – Ill say no more.

    I also very much agree with your Mixu perspective. The HibsNet writer is extremely harsh.

    All the best

    John

    Comment by john | June 6, 2009

  4. Hi John, thanks for your comments, it always pleases me when fellow Hibbies drop by here! I’m sure you’ll enjoy The Old Malt Cross and thanks for your recommend of the book, I’ll look into that.

    I’m not sure how deep your interest is in music hall but there is another relic from that time that few Nottinghamians know about. There was an original ‘Theatre Royal’ in Nottingham which was placed on St Mary’s Gate in the Lace Market, a few doors up from the Keanes Head pub. All that remains of this original music hall now is a barren looking doorway of a white, arched design. Adjacent to it is a replica of it which was an electricity board building and built in sympathetic style.

    The reason I know of this building is because I went to a talk about it at a local book festival once. The talker, Michael Payne, described the music hall scene of the time in great detail and with eloquence. He referred to such performers as Champagne Charlie and Paganini who appeared there. Apparently the theatre was latterly used as a warehouse before meeting it’s demise at the hand of the Luftwaffe in the 1940s’.

    Cheers, Stu

    GGTTH

    Comment by Stuart | June 6, 2009

  5. Hi Stuart

    Thanks so much for your review, I’m the project manager of the Malt Cross Trust (we’re a charity) so on behalf of all the staff I would really like to say Thanks for a lovely write up and really glad that you love it here as much as we do. I have loved the Malt Cross since I was 16 and it was Potters House so I feel very passionate about maintaining it and keeping it as a hidden but loved gem to be enjoyed by lots of people, whether that be as the whole package or the food, atmosphere, great drinks, art and entertainment. Do come and introduce yourself when you are next in.

    Kind Regards

    Jo

    Comment by Jo | July 1, 2009

  6. Thanks for dropping by Jo, you’re welcome. It’s good to hear of your dedication to the old place and good luck with your continued efforts. As I speak to people about The Old Malt Cross I find that many have an affection for it and this doesn’t surprise me in the least.

    I shall make a point of saying hello on my next visit!

    Comment by Stuart | July 12, 2009


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