The Queen’s Arms, 24 Great Knollys Street, Reading, RG1 7HL.
All ‘information’ in this review is ‘accurate’ as of December 2015.
We’ve got traditional pubs, hipster pubs, Irish pubs… But Reading doesn’t really have a scary geezer’s pub, does it? The sort of place where everyone stares at you when you walk in. And then maybe beats seven shades of shit out of you. Well, maybe we do. You just don’t go to it. Or maybe even know about it. It’s called The Queen’s Arms and it’s on Great Knollys Street. Look, it’s not exactly the Wild West. We’ve been in two or three times and we’re still alive. But there’s a distinct feeling in this – Technically – Greene King boozer that you might get your fucking head kicked in. And we’re all for it.
Drink Selection: No ale, no real choice. You get what you’re given. That said, they have Guinness Dublin Porter in there and it’s bloody lovely, it is.
Location: An industrial estate not all that far from the train station. Next to the cattle market. Near the bus depot.
Atmosphere: Like the faces of the punters in The Queens’ Arms, you can cut the atmosphere with a knife. Not really, it’s fine. If you’re careful. Just don’t stare at anyone’s pint or spill their wife and you’ll be alright.
Beer Garden/Smoking Area: A collection of old benches out front affords the smokers wonderful views of Great Knollys Street. We went a while back when there was a traveller camp set up opposite. A pissed Polish Nazi ran into the camp and starting banging on the caravan doors and screaming while we all stood on, watching. Terrified.
Toilets: Not too haunting considering countless people will have been killed in there over the years.
Sports? No, thank Christ. We can only imagine the number of Chelsea fans that’d be in there if they had Sky or BT.
Price: We paid three quid for the Dublin Porter and you can’t say fairer than that.
Decor: Spit and sawdust. Though not literally. There are football club mirrors above the bar. Chelsea AND Leeds. Of the 92 league teams, Millwall aside, they’ve seemingly intentionally chosen the two most horrid clubs. It’s a clue.
Pub Games: There’s a pool table, if you’re brave enough to stick a pound coin on it. Regular ad hoc bare-knuckle fighting events are also staged.
Food: Knuckle sandwiches are available on order.
Events: Regular punk nights, Rn’B and other music line-ups get an outing in the surprisingly impressive back room which is actually pretty great for shady gigs. We saw an old ’80s Oi! punk band called Hard Skin play there. That was the night of the Polish Nazi fella. He stormed the stage, bit the bassist’s leg, swung for someone, had to be pinned to the floor by the lead singer’s guitar and tried to stab a woman before being arrested.
Seating: Less blood stains and bullet holes than you might imagine.
Punterwatch: A heady mixture of the too-pissed, the pissed and the about-to-be pissed. Occasionally diluted/made worse by gig-goers, depending on the band playing.
Word on the street is, this place is due for the scrapheap, so you might not have long to pop in for a pint and chance your arm, survival-wise. So get down there, have a few, glass someone and pass on the word. There’s nothing wrong with Shit Pubs. Stop being such a tart.