A historic pub interior of national importance
Listed Status: II*Gordon Road
In the Test Match and the Vale Hotel, Arnold, Nottinghamshire has two of the best Art Deco pub interiors in England. It was built in 1938 to the designs of A.C.Wheeler for brewers Hardys & Hansons of Kimberley. A revolving door sweeps you into a glorious two-storey, ash-panelled lounge with ceiling lighting reminiscent of a great inter-war cinema. The (later) wall paintings by local artist T.L.B. Hutchinson have a cricketing theme. To the right is the former gents-only smoke room with a striking arched approach to the toilets (obviously no provision for ladies): as elsewhere, they are as built. A wide staircase from the lounge leads up to the beautifully preserved Boundary Bar, originally a cocktail lounge, with its semi-circular counter. During a major but sensitive refurbishment in 2001 the lounge was linked to what was an assembly room at the back. A side entrance takes you into the remarkable public bar, complete with its jazzy terrazzo floor, tiered counter and angular slate fireplaces.
A remarkable interior. Built in 1938 for Hardys & Hansons Ltd of Kimberley, the two brewers having merged in 1930, the Test Match is one of the finest surviving inter-war pubs in the country. It was the first new licensed premises to be allowed in West Bridgeford in the twentieth century, and the owners and their architect, A. C. Wheeler, were at pains to ensure the building was well-appointed and up-to-the minute in its details. The buff brick exterior gives little hint of what to expect within.
Behind the central portico is a revolving door (added in 1950) which sweeps you into a remarkable two-storey high room. The cricketing motif is expressed in wall paintings (of c.1950) by the Nottinghamshire artist, T. L. B. Hutchinson, of festooned bats, an urn for the ashes, and notable cricketers. The latter are William Clarke, who laid out the county ground, and the great batsman George Parr. This room is the lounge and the up-to-date feel was conveyed by the cinema-style ceiling lighting and Art Deco detailing of the woodwork and fireplace (the latter has a marble surround flanked by sapele columns). The wall panelling is English ash. A wide staircase leads upstairs to a cocktail bar and impressively complete, original toilets (note the Art Deco-style lettering).
To right is a further bar, formerly a gents only smoke room, with lower ceiling and linked to the lounge by an opening widened in the late C20. The wall panelling is similar to that in the lounge. The public bar (shown in our picture) - separate and on the left of the building - has a remarkably complete assemblage of 1930s work. There is terrazzo flooring in jazzy geometrical patterns of yellow, grey, orange and black. The bar counter rises in three tiers of rectangular panels, breaking forward as they rise; simple shelving to bar back and a fire surround of slate blocks with angular detail. At the rear of the building is an assembly room with gently curved ceiling with moulded transverse ribs and spine. At the springing a moulded cornice with large projecting features above brackets containing up-lighting.
A major refurbishment was carried out in 2001 but was undertaken with great sensitivity in view of the grade II* listing that had been given to the Test Match. The main change was opening the front part to the assembly room, and the installation of kitchens at the back of the latter. The materials and designs were of excellent quality and, although the pub is not 'intact', its remarkable qualities still make it one of CAMRA's Heritage pubs. The 2001 work was carried out by Oulsnam Design of Bakewell and won the refurbishment award in CAMRA's Pub Design Awards.
In the book 'The Inns & Pubs of Nottinghamshire: Stories behind the Names' by Gordon Wright & Brian J Curtis - Nottinghamshire County Council, 1995, ISBN 0-900943-81-5 the authors explain the pub name as follows: “For 44 years West Bridgford Defence Association had waged a stubborn battle against the granting of a licence. When eventually the Kimberley Brewery obtained permission from the licensing magistrates at Shire Hall to put up their ‘hotel’ their chairman, clearly relieved that the long protracted struggle was at last over, was heard to remark ‘that it had been as hard to win as a 'test’ against Australia’ “. Other surviving Art Deco interiors can be found at these Heritage Pubs Three Pigeons, Halifax, West Yorkshire; Vale Hotel, Arnold, Nottinghamshire; Duke (of York), Bloomsbury, London WC1; Portland Arms, Glasgow; Steps Bar, Glasgow; and Frews Bar, Dundee; in the Sporting Memories Lounge.