WHETHER you are going out for a Friday night drink with friends, celebrating a birthday or enjoying a Thursday night curry club, there is one place you can always rely on for a good time ­— Wetherspoons.

Founded in 1979 by Tim Martin, the company operates nearly 900 pubs across the UK and six of those are located in East Lancashire.

Two of the national chain's pubs are based in Burnley ­— although one is up for sale ­— and there is one in each of the towns of Blackburn, Darwen, Accrington and Colne.

You might think all ‘Spoons are the same but, as a regular visitor, I beg to differ and have attempted to answer an important question ­— which is the best one in East Lancashire?

For me, many a good night has been spent in a Wetherspoons, whether back home where I originally come from in Kent or places I have previously lived such as Manchester and Exeter.

Travelling to the far reaches of the eastern part of the county I have trialled out each of the six Wetherspoons and rated them from worst to best. Do you agree?

Lancashire Telegraph:


ABOUT: The name of this pub recalls the town’s origins in a Saxon settlement called Brun Lea, meaning the field by the Brun or brown field.

In 1294, the lord of ‘the manor of Brunleye’, Henry de Lacy, was granted a charter for a weekly market and an annual three-day fair.

In 1800, the ancient weekly market was moved to a position near the bottom of Manchester Road, then called Market Street.

The Bull Inn, one of the town’s most important inns during the 19th century, stood on the corner of Manchester Road, a stone’s throw from this site.

REVIEW: For the purpose of this list, I will be ranking the pubs in reverse order and my least favourite was The Brun Lea in Burnley.

I am sure, on its day, it is a very pleasant drinking establishment but I had a bizarre experience there.

Located next to Burnley Town Hall, the bar itself looks quite pristine inside and there are plenty of ground floor seats to accommodate people.

When I walked to the front counter I ordered a dessert, fresh fruit and ice cream.

Two punters asked me if I looked like a vampire, to which I gave a blunt answer of 'no' as I couldn't think of anything witty to say.

My order arrived relatively quickly but sadly it wasn't quite to my taste. A bruised and soggy banana was what struck me the most from the dish and the ice cream looked half melted already. I wasn't expecting a five star dish but perhaps something that looked more inviting to eat for £2.65.

My experience at the pub coupled with the fact it has now been placed on the market by the company's boss Tim Martin is why I have chosen this as my least favourite of the six pubs.

Lancashire Telegraph:


ABOUT: This grade II listed building was designed in the ‘Edwardian Baroque style’ in 1911 by a Blackpool architect.

The ‘Boot’ replaced an earlier Boot Inn, which stood on the same site and was originally a small farmhouse.

Like several other farmhouses in Burnley, it was converted into a public house in the late 18th or early 19th century.

REVIEW: Let me say that I do not have anything against Burnley, for those questioning why I have chosen the two Burnley pubs at the bottom of the list.

As the Burnley and Pendle reporter, I have visited the town centre several times and I recognise that the town is on the up.

However I just wasn't as impressed with these Wetherspoons as the others on my list. Firstly the Boot Inn, while in a good location, is pretty small inside.

Some people prefer a cosy atmosphere but when I walked in, I felt a bit crowded despite the fact it was a Sunday evening. I ordered a tea, which you can get refills for, for £1.20 ­— a reasonable price.

The service was fine, the staff were nice and I saw it had a beer garden, which I imagine gets busy over the summer. Overall it was a nice pub but nothing particularly wowed me about it.

Lancashire Telegraph:


ABOUT: This site is Blackburn’s former general post office, typical of the grand, Edwardian post offices built in the early 1900s.

REVIEW: Blackburn's The Postal Order was a pleasant experience. A place that is situated in Darwen Street, next to Blackburn Cathedral, has a prime spot in the town centre.

I visited the venue after a hard day's work (it's true) on a thriving Thursday night when the sun was shining and the pub was packed with guests.

Despite the busyness of the evening, I was served at the bar quickly and managed to get a booth table to myself (guilty).

Chicken tikka masala was on the menu for me tonight and the service was very good, even though the pub seemed stretched for resources, staff wise.

It wasn't my first time visiting the Blackburn 'Spoons and had been there for work celebratory drinks on more than one occasion.

A good pub in a central spot.

Lancashire Telegraph:


ABOUT: This landmark corner building had been the Regency Bar since 1977. Before then, it was the Commercial Hotel for almost 100 years.

Built in 1881, it was the second Commercial Hotel on this site. The first was an early 19th-century coaching inn.

In 1848, two coaches called at the hotel daily, except Sundays – the Invincible (for Burnley and Preston) and the Shuttle (for Blackpool).

REVIEW: The Church Street pub sits opposite Accrington Town Hall and, like the others, on the list is located in a good spot in the town centre.

It is well lit inside, has a good number of seats and, despite just having two bar staff on when I visited, the service was good.

The most prominent feature of the pub is the beer garden which includes green astro-turf looking grass and a clock face which has 'Commercial Hotel' inscribed on it.

I can imagine this being very popular among people from Accrington and neighbouring towns such as Oswaldtwistle and Church.

My previous experience of visiting this pub was when I travelled with two southern friends to watch Accrington vs Portsmouth (which ended in a 1-1 draw).

We enjoyed that visit and I was similarly impressed on my recent return ­— all in all, I would recommend Accrington's The Commercial Hotel.

Lancashire Telegraph:


ABOUT: Wallace Hartley was born at 92 Greenfield Road, Colne, in 1878.

By the age of 15, he was giving solo violin performances and, soon after, entertained passengers on transatlantic liners.

In 1912, he became bandmaster on the ill-fated Titanic and continued to lead his band as the mighty ship sank beneath the waves. His body was recovered two weeks later and brought back to Colne.

Around 40,000 people lined the route of the funeral procession on its way to Colne cemetery. A statue was erected soon after, which still stands today.

REVIEW: I wonder how many people who visit The Wallace Hartley would actually know about the history of Mr Hartley but clearly the name of the pub is in tribute to a well-respected man.

My first recollection of The Wallace Hartley was certainly memorable. I was sat in there after reporting on last summer's World Cup when England lost to Croatia in the semi finals.

I had been to Colne Cricket Club just before and was one of over 4,000 people watching what ended up being a depressing end to the tournament on the big screen.

So what would any person do after a game like that, well in my case head to a local Wetherspoon for a pint or two. The Church Street pub pleasantly surprised me. It has a prime town centre location and a sign with the image of Mr Hartley drooping down from the top of the pub.

The service was good, the drinks were cheaper than the other Wetherspoons I had visited and the food was good as well.

There are two TVs inside the pub and a beer garden too. There are also some comfortable sofas too. Even the toilets impressed ­— always a good sign.

It cheered me up after that disappointing result, no mean feat, and I've enjoyed recent visits too.

Lancashire Telegraph:


ABOUT: Described as the finest building in Darwen, this former Wesleyan Methodist Chapel first opened its doors on 30 March 1866.

It was designed in the classical Corinthian style by the architect Edward Bates – also responsible for the nearby India Mill.

In 1969, the old chapel was bought for £14,500 and converted into a supermarket. It later became a discount store, until its refurbishment by Wetherspoon in 2014.

REVIEW: I could be accused of bias for choosing the Old Chapel in Darwen as I live there myself. I have visited the pub on several occasions and that is testament to the fact that I really like it.

Compared to the other Wetherspoons, it is the biggest of them all. It has a large ground floor seating area and upper floor with booths, tables and plenty of space.

That space is quickly filled on Friday and Saturday evenings as the pub is heaving with people from Darwen and neighbouring towns of Blackburn and Bolton.

For my review I took a Friday evening out of my schedule to see how the pub copes during the busy period.

Having worked in a bar previously, my first ever job was working as a member of the bar staff in a nightclub in Exeter, I understand the challenges of working during a busy period.

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They seem to have a relatively organised system with staff members divided in roles between dealing with customers at the bar and those who use the app. It's a tall order with such a big pub but they do it well and with a smile on their face.

There is also an outside beer garden which is particularly nice in the summer. The one negative is the fact the pub is a bit more expensive than the others but I think it's understandable because Darwen is a night-time economy. Despite that I think this is the best Wetherspoons in East Lancashire.