A micropub that’s big on atmosphere

Warm and welcoming environment
Warm and welcoming environment

Top quality ales, cider and wine; and a friendly and open environment in which to enjoy them.

While enjoying a drink in my favourite micropub in Worthing I got chatting to a fellow ale fan.

The shop used to be a watchmakers

The shop used to be a watchmakers

We were discussing the micropub movement and I mentioned in passing that I was surprised that there wasn’t one in Brighton or Hove.

At this point my drinking companion – whom I had never met before – pointed out my error and said that there was indeed one in Hove, The Watchmakers Arms.

For those who are not aware, the definition of a micropub – as per the Micropub Association - is “a small freehouse which listens to its customers, mainly serves cask ales, promotes conversation, shuns all forms of electronic entertainment and dabbles in traditional pub snacks”.

What this means in real terms is no music, no TV, no lager and in some of the more militant ones no mobile phones either.

Ali and Ruth working the bar

Ali and Ruth working the bar

What you do get is top quality – mostly local – ales, cider and wine; and a friendly and open environment in which to enjoy them.

The Watchmakers Arms in Hove keeps to these principles; although they are slightly more relaxed on the technology front in that phones and even the odd laptop are permitted.

Situated just down from Hove station in what used to be a watchmakers shop – hence the name – you will find the only micropub in East Sussex.

Opened by couples Ali and Dave White and Ruth and Rick Evans back in May; the pub offers locals and visitors up to five ales and two ciders plus red and white wine.

Bar snack and take away

Bar snack and take away

Pub snacks are courtesy of local producers McStrongs including pork pies and scratchings.

I popped by on a Wednesday evening and there was a lively post work crowd in attendance with former teachers turned publicans Ali and Ruth behind the bar.

They told me how their journey was inspired by a mutual friend who opened their own micropub in Kent.

After paying them a visit and a number of others – in the name of research of course – the couples took the plunge and risked it all to pursue the dream. I asked Ali what makes a micropub so special: “It’s the fact that each one is different, they are a reflection of the personality of the people that run them and their clientele.”

The Watchmakers is still developing its own style and they accept that this takes time “you cannot just buy character and have an interior designer build it for you.”

The Watchmakers is a little larger than some other micropubs and they also have an actual bar – this is not always the case.

Both Ali and Ruth agree that the bar was a necessity and that it does not stop them from interacting with their patrons, it is only small and they are rarely behind it.

This gives The Watchmakers a slightly more formal feel and so if you are just looking for somewhere quiet to have a drink cannot be drawn into conversation you can do so here.

I spent a good few hours in the pub on my visit and - apart from a small lull after the post-work crowd left – there was a steady flow of customers.

Without the distraction of screens and overly loud music there is a gentle hubbub of conversation and laughter .

In my mind this is what a traditional boozer should be like.

Pubs are a community hub where people meet and exchange stories and news about the area and this is what the micropub movement is trying to recapture.

If like me you have grown tired of chain pubs that only seem to suck the soul out of this great British institution I highly recommend popping into The Watchmakers Arms. Not only will you receive a warm welcome and have a fantastic choice of local and guest ales; you will also be supporting a local business that is looking to give back to the community in which it is situated.

The Watchmakers Arms

84 Goldstone Villas, Hove, BN3 3RU


01273 776307

Opening Hours:

Tuesday to Thursday: 12-2pm / 5-9pm

Friday: 12-2pm / 5-11pm

Saturday: 12-11pm

Sunday: 12-3pm

Monday: Closed