Home   Spalding   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Secret Drinker reviews The Black Bull in Donington





I’m not quite sure what it says about the modern world and us as a society that, these days, Donington has three chip shops, two Co-ops but just one pub.

This was a village (or town, depending on who you speak to) that used to have so many hostelries you could almost fall out of one and straight into the next without a chance to stumble.

The Black Swan, Bottle & Glass, Peacock, Protection Inn, Queen, Red Cow and Rose & Crown have all called time, a quick Google confirms.

The Black Bull in Donington. Thanks to the LincsOnline team for sharing a file photo. The night-time one I took was ruined by glaring lights and cars stuck at traffic lights outside.
The Black Bull in Donington. Thanks to the LincsOnline team for sharing a file photo. The night-time one I took was ruined by glaring lights and cars stuck at traffic lights outside.

But thankfully the Black Bull remains.

And the one huge plus about a village (or town) having just one pub is is that it can do the very thing a pub should do – bring all walks of life together.

More stories like this delivered straight to your inbox every morning - sign up to The Briefing here.

I arrived early one midweek evening and was delighted to see the place packed and lively; the after work crowd still in their Dickies shorts and steel toecapped boots mingling with the best-Levi’s lads gathering at the bar and the couples out for a pint.

The decor is homely and warm
The decor is homely and warm

At the tables nicely-dressed groups of ladies got the evening started with glassed of wine before being called through to the restaurant.

The movement was constant, mates offering each other drinks, making each other laugh, nipping out for a fag. Everyone there to make the most of the final drops of the day. Just how it should be.

At the well-stocked bar, made to look like a giant stretched out beer barrel, the one lady serving was criss-crossing from customer to customer as they queued to place their orders, not even breaking stride to screech ‘LANGUAGE!’ at one bloke dropping an f-bomb.

The bar was well stocked at the Black Bull
The bar was well stocked at the Black Bull

Fortunately, this allowed time for the chap stood next to me to whip out his phone and tell me to ‘have a look at this’.

If you’ve spent enough time in pubs over the years you know this could mean anything – a proud dad who’s just received a picture of his daughter’s latest school trophy, someone showing off a screengrab of a juicy winning bet or even a stranger who wants to know if you’d like to ‘get to know’ his wife (all three have happened to me over the years, thankfully two more than the other).

But what my new chum did show me was possibly the last thing I’d expected, a video of him carrying out some rather aggressive martial arts moves with a set of nunchucks (those two sticks on a chain the orange Ninja Turtle had).

Flinders Bar at the Black Bull in Donington
Flinders Bar at the Black Bull in Donington

Realising this bloke could probably karate chop me in half quicker than I could say ‘Jean-Claude Van Driver’ the remainder of the conversation saw me being extremely courteous until I made my excuses and took my seat in the only available space – the champagne bar.

This was actually just two seats and a table in the hallway with a sign saying ‘champagne bar’ to presumably add some gravitas to the chairs nobody else in the packed pub seemed to fancy.

But it did offer me a great view of the night unfolding, and the many other signs dotted about the place: ‘no children after 9.30pm’, ‘muddy boots off please’ and ‘zero tolerance of swearing at the bar’. Ah, that explains it!

No champers in the Champagne Bar
No champers in the Champagne Bar

Fed up of looking like the village (or town) idiot all alone in my seat I decided to nosey about the place.

Read more Secret Drinker reviews

Outside was a well-lit spacious and sheltered smoking area where a guy with an almost full pint glass in one and and his phone in the other was telling what I guessed to be his partner that he was just on his way home.

There was also a special surprise waiting for me in the gents... nudes.

The smokers and summertime drinkers get shelter at the Black Bull
The smokers and summertime drinkers get shelter at the Black Bull

Thankfully, not the chatty bloke at the urinal next to me but the framed pictures across the back wall.

As you may have read, I’ve come across bondage art in pub toilets before, but never full on nudes.

It's not every day you spot some nudes in the gents
It's not every day you spot some nudes in the gents

Perhaps in the good old days before mobile phones dodgy geezers would carry these into bars as visual aids when they asked strangers if they’d like to ‘get to know’ their wives and the landlord just found a better use for them?

Exiting the gents I came face to face with my mate with the nunchucks down the narrow corridor.

Momentarily, we stood motionless in front of one another like two cowboys in a western shootout. Was this to be my High Noon? Nope. he just nodded an ‘alright mate’ in my direction and went to do his business.

Who needs more than one pub when you can get so many characters together in a village (or town)?

THE BLACK BULL, 7 MARKET PLACE, DONINGTON, PE11 4ST.

DECOR: Flinders Bar is nicely set up with comfy chairs and tables around the fire and a well-stocked bar. Beautiful old beams hold the ceiling up and if you fancy some titillation head to the gents. 3/5

DRINK: I plumped for a Sharps Doom Bar (ABC 4.3%), the rugby boys’ choice, but at least you know what you’re getting. 3/5

PRICE: At £4.60 a pint I felt this was more than reasonable. 3/5

ATMOSPHERE: What a local should be. All walks of life mixing in and no need to fill any silences with the jukebox promoting its Ministry of Sound bangers. 3/5

STAFF: Just the one barmaid on duty but she must have got her daily steps in as she didn’t stop moving. Just don’t f*cking swear at her. 3/5

Click here to follow Secret Drinker on Twitter/X.

Do you agree with the secret drinker or have any suggestions where he should go next? Email secretdrinker@lincsonline.co.uk or comment below.



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More