The friendly sports pub that serves the cheapest Sunday meal in Bristol - Mark Taylor review

It’s popular for darts, pool and also has six screens for live sport

King William IV in Staple HillKing William IV in Staple Hill
King William IV in Staple Hill

They were getting the flags out when I arrived for an early afternoon pint at the King William IV in Staple Hill. No, it wasn’t to mark the appearance of Bristol World’s thirsty pub reviewer - the barman was simply unpacking boxes of banners for the upcoming World Cup.

It may be Halloween Weekend at the pub - with its fancy dress party and live music from Blues Brothers - but all thoughts at ‘The King Billy’ are now turning to the football next month. And with six screens and three Sky boxes, this vast pub on Broad Street is certainly better placed than many when it comes to beaming live matches from Qatar.

I don’t know what it is about Staple Hill, but it seems to have cornered the market when it comes to huge pubs. The King William IV is one of the deepest pubs I’ve encountered and has two small courtyard gardens.

A few doors down, the posh new Forge & Fern pub and restaurant is also huge, as is The Portcullis on the junction of Broad Street. And each pub seems to have its own clientele, with The King William IV appealing more to the committed drinkers and football fans.

On a quiet weekday afternoon, there were only two other customers in the pub but regulars Roger and Dave didn’t seem to mind. The barman said he was also expecting to see Brian and Geoff at some point during the afternoon - this is one of those pubs where locals and staff are on first-name terms.

With its double height ceilings, carpet, pool and darts, it’s a traditional pub that goes back to the end of King William IV’s reign in the 19th Century. Close to the popular Page Park with its bandstand, bowling green and Edwardian drinking fountain, the pub is decorated with black and white photos of the building over the years.

In one shot, there are horse-drawn carriages outside the pub, presumably delivering the beer. These days, the brewery lorries drop off barrels of St Austell Tribute and Sharp’s Doom Bar, but these omnipresent Cornish ales are overshadowed by draught Bass - an increasingly rare treat.

Outside the pub, there is still an original Bass lantern, which for many older real ale drinkers is a sight for jaded tastebuds. The pint I had was crystal clear and in immaculate condition. This is clearly a pub that looks after its ales and the Bass was worthy of the ‘perfect pint approved’ tag dangling from the tap. The same tag was attached to the pump for Guinness.

The traditional interior of the King William IV in Staple HillThe traditional interior of the King William IV in Staple Hill
The traditional interior of the King William IV in Staple Hill

Other draught lagers and ciders included Stella, Coors, Foster’s, Blackthorn, Strongbow and Thatchers Haze. I didn’t spot a food menu on offer but there were small blackboards advertising the pile of clingfilm-wrapped rolls behind the bar.

These include classics like cheese and onion or ham and tomato for a modest £1.50. Time your visit on a Sunday and you can order the ‘special’ roll with pork and stuffing. At £2.50, it’s easily the cheapest Sunday lunch offer in Bristol.

King William IV, 62 Broad Street, Staple Hill, Bristol, BS16 5NP.

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