SOMETIMES the finest delights can occur at the most unexpected time and a random day out with a few mates can lead to a real discovery.

“Let’s go to Chorley for the afternoon,” said a pal as a few of us debated what to do on a midweek day off work with admittedly few alternatives.

So off we went on the rattler, via a quick change at Preston, to the market town for an afternoon into the unknown — well, unknown to me at least.

Obviously I knew Chorley was home to superb cakes, a pretty good football team and, in my mind, an even better cricket team.

I also knew there was a market there and I once had marvellous tea and scones in a tiny cafe on the high street.

But, aside from that, Chorley was something of a mystery to me, especially in the sense of watering holes.

Several were pretty good — but the one that stood out to me was The Sir Henry Tate, one of the omnipresent JD Wetherspoon chain — and this one is a good ‘un.

I know that people have their feelings about the Wetherspoon group.

Some folk wouldn’t go near one if they were parched with thirst and they were giving their ale away. Others swear by them. I am a take it or leave it kind of guy. As is the norm with such a large chain, some Wetherspoon pubs are good, others less so.

The Sir Henry Tate in Chorley is definitely in the former category.

Randomly, today marks the eighth anniversary of its opening but, rather than seeming worn and tired, the pub — which was built from scratch as part of a development — is still smart and on the afternoon of my visit was doing good trade too.

As with all Wetherspoon pubs there was a good selection of real ales and most of them at the stronger end of the ABV scale so maybe some of the more seasoned ‘characters’ had burned themselves out by mid-afternoon. But that didn’t really hinder the atmosphere.

All the usual lagers and ciders were on sale and the food side of the business was doing a healthy trade and we sat outside at the front of the pub in an area that turned into an impromptu beer garden thanks to the addition of a few tables and chairs.

While sitting there supping a Guinness, I also found out that Sir Henry Tate wa Chorley’s most celebrated son, who began his working life as a grocer, made a fortune from sugar refining and left his collection of paintings to the nation.

He also funded the building of the Tate Gallery.

You see, you can make the most amazing of discoveries and I am sure Sir Henry would approve.

I certainly did — but the Northern Rail timetable dictated that it was time to move on.

However, I shall be heading back.