The Bristol pub with a fascinating history and a Michael Jackson night - Mark Taylor reviews The Lamplighters

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It’s a popular pitstop for walkers, cyclists and dog owners

Open as a pub since the 1760s, The Lamplighters in Shirehampton started life as a grand villa for a wealthy local businessman who made his money illuminating the streets of Bristol.

Joseph Swetnam had the contract to light the oil lamps around the city and he used the profits to build the palatial Lamplighter’s Hall on the banks of the river looking across to Pill.

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For a time a hotel frequented by seafarers, the Grade-II listed building is now owned by Cornish brewery St Austell.

Popular with riverside walkers and cyclists, the pub has a beer garden on three sides of the detached building, which retains plenty of original character via sash windows and fireplace.

The Lamplighters in ShirehamptonThe Lamplighters in Shirehampton
The Lamplighters in Shirehampton

Missing the ‘L’ from its name on the front signage - according to the barmaid I spoke to, they’ve got a replacement and it will be fixed soon - The Lamplighters (or The Amplighters as it is currently known to first-time visitors), is also used by local dog walkers.

Four-legged visitors are made to feel welcome with bowls of water and they even get to choose from a glass jar of bone-shaped biscuits on the bar.

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As well as St Austell products Korev lager and Proper Job and Tribute ales, there’s Bath Ales Gem on draught, as well as Guinness, Moretti, Amstel and three types of Thatchers cider.

The smart interior of The Lamplighters in ShirehamptonThe smart interior of The Lamplighters in Shirehampton
The smart interior of The Lamplighters in Shirehampton

Sunday roasts are hugely popular and booking essential, with a standard weekday and Saturday menu that takes in light bites, burgers, bangers and mash, curry, sandwiches and old favourites like ham, egg and chips.

I went for the fish and chips with peas and tartare sauce (£12.50) which was a well rendered pub classic, the thick flakes of fish encased in crisp, golden batter.

Brown leather button-back Chesterfield sofas and walls dotted with old maps and pictures of Shirehampton village create a smart country pub atmosphere.

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Whoever was in charge of the piped music on the midweek lunchtime I visited was clearly on a bit of a 1980s trip down memory lane.

The lovely river view from the front garden of The Lamplighters in ShirehamptonThe lovely river view from the front garden of The Lamplighters in Shirehampton
The lovely river view from the front garden of The Lamplighters in Shirehampton

Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone was followed by Take on Me by A-ha, Madonna’s Material Girl and Down Under by Men at Work. That was before more back-to-back ’80s classics from the likes of Journey, Toto, Cyndi Lauper and David Bowie.

By the time Michael Jackson’s Beat It had come around for a second time, I was starting to wonder whether I should have turned up wearing a shell suit and leg warmers.

And for anybody who wants to show off their 1983 Jacko moonwalk dance moves, the pub hosts a special event next Friday.

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Rory Jackson appeared on Britain’s Got Talent in 2016 with his Michael Jackson tribute act and he brings his ‘ultimate concert experience’ to The Lamplighters on October 7.

The poster has no mention of dress code but let’s hope a few Shirehampton locals turn up with white sequinned gloves and fedora hats. Now, that would be worth the detour alone.

The Lamplighters, Station Road, Shirehampton, Bristol, BS11 9XA. Tel: 0117 2793754.

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