The Needle and Pin, Loughborough, pub review

The Needle and Pin is a friendly and welcoming pub - Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
The Needle and Pin is a friendly and welcoming pub - Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Screaming Lord Sutch played Loughborough Town Hall on June 20 1963. A poster advertising the event is framed on the wall, between a picture of a local bus from 1952 and a handbill for the Theatre Royal from 1936.

The location for this absorbing diorama of local history is an austere but stylish micro-pub, the Needle and Pin, sited in a long-derelict electronics shop. It’s just after 5pm and the place is filling up. Some customers are perched on a long bench beneath the posters. There are cushions either side of them and the tables in front are designed to enable eye-level interaction with whoever’s standing opposite.

Conversations around the bar are warmly inclusive. A man with an enormous grey beard is soon sharing fond memories of his favourite brewery, Harvey’s of Lewes in Sussex. Presiding over four hand pumps, meanwhile, is a bearded young man called Jethro. “Tull?” He nods resignedly. “My dad was a big fan.” As for his mum, she’s just walked in. Customers want to know how Rebecca is: she recently broke her leg in a skiing accident, since you ask. She is also the wife of Sean O’Neill, owner of the pub and the Wicked Hathern brewery.

Britains best pub lunches

“We brew a couple of times a month and, if we have any left after we’ve supplied our regular customers, then we’ll put it on here,” Sean shrugs.

No Wicked Hathern this evening. No Harvey’s either. But what’s there is in tip-top condition. My palate embarks on a satisfyingly indulgent tour, from a St Austell’s light but well-balanced Cornish Best to a richly creamy Old Rasputin Stout from Tollgate Brewery in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, via Oz Bomb from Bristol, packed with astringent Australian hops. Six draught ciders are available as well.

And if you feel peckish? You can always ring Peter’s Pizzeria around the corner. Delivery is prompt. My mushroom, red pepper, courgette and smoked mozzarella pizza is seen off with a full-bodied amber ale from the West End Brewery in Leicester.

By now we’re in the room upstairs being serenaded by a selection from David Bowie’s early-Seventies corpus: part of Sean’s expansive vinyl collection, played – naturally – on a Dansette.  Jethro Tull must be in there somewhere. No Screaming Lord Sutch, however.

The Needle and Pin, 15 The Rushes, Loughborough, Leics LE11 5BE (07973 754236)