The friendly Bristol community pub with free pool and huge jackpots

The Old Crow is at the heart of the community in Henbury and also offers bed and breakfast

The jackpot winner of the previous day’s Play Your Cards Right pub game was still the talking point at The Old Crow the following lunchtime.

Apparently the pub was packed for the popular weekly competition, which costs £1 per ticket to enter.

The jackpot varies from week to week but the latest winner scooped just over £1,000 in prize money, a welcome pre-Christmas bonus for the lucky recipient and a far cry from most pub competition spoils.

According to one of the locals, people travel from all over to take part in The Old Crow’s Play Your Cards Right and the previous day’s winner didn’t hang around afterwards.

“They got in their car and drove off straightaway - perhaps they went to other pub games! Still, that £1,000 will make a big difference to somebody’s Christmas won’t it - we could all do with a bit of that at the moment!”

At the heart of the Henbury community, The Old Crow is one of those pubs where everybody seems to know the first names of their fellow drinkers, as do the bar staff.

Lee, Robin, Pete, Roger, Keith, Tony - they were all present and correct on the day I visited. There was a sense that you could set your watch to their daily arrival and if anybody didn’t turn up, questions would be asked and a search party dispatched.

“What have you got in your bag?” came the cry from one of the regulars, pointing at his mate’s heavy Aldi carrier. “Oh, my missus asked me to get flowers so I got her some cauliflowers!” chuckled his friend, taking his place at the large table in front of the bar.

The Old Crow has a dart board and a pool table which is free on Tuesdays
The Old Crow has a dart board and a pool table which is free on Tuesdays
The Old Crow has a dart board and a pool table which is free on Tuesdays

The Old Crow is a large, detached pub shielded from the busy main road by trees, pub garden and a spacious car park. As well as being the local pub, it also offers bed and breakfast for city visitors.

Either side of the central bar, there are two large rooms. One doubles up as a function room and the main drinkers’ bar has a pool table (which is free on Tuesdays) and a darts board.

Behind the bar, there’s a stack of clingfilm-wrapped filled rolls and a small heated cabinet keeps the £1.50 pies warm. These include steak and kidney, beef and onion and chicken and mushroom.

Although not a traditional cider pub, there are seven types of Thatchers on tap. Other draught options include Guinness, Stella, Madri, Foster’s, Staropramen, Atlantic Pale Ale, Bass, Coors and Carling.

I was joined at my table near the jukebox by a small group of locals who were settling down for a few lunchtime games of pool.

“This is a lovely pub, it’s always friendly in here,” smiled one of the friendly women playing pool. “Just because Henbury has a lot of council houses and tower blocks, people who don’t know the area have a certain image of the place but that’s a shame.

“Everybody is welcome in here and the staff really do their best to make it a friendly local for people.”

She went on to tell me that I should come back when the pub opens for a short spell on Christmas Day.

“Oh, it’s a lovely atmosphere - I often seen people I haven’t seen all year, not since the previous Christmas. It really feels like a proper community pub.”

The Old Crow, Crow Lane, Henbury, Bristol, BS10 7DW.

The Old Crow in Henbury
The Old Crow in Henbury
The Old Crow in Henbury