A pint at the local #5 The Goat, Hertford Heath

Written by Les Middlewood

A pub on the village green. Can there be anything more English? The Goat occupies a part 16th building with later additions and is Grade II listed, situated in Vicarage Causeway and overlooking the green. The area of Hertford Heath in which it sits was until recent times a separate village known as Little Amwell and the Goat is the last pub standing in the immediate area – the Horse and Dray, the Two Brewers and, most recently, the Townshend Arms all now names from the past. The Goat has provided refreshment in the village since at least 1756 when the first reference to it is found in the Victuallers Billeting Returns – the Goat providing billeting for troops heading into the Seven Years War when Britain and its allies eventually overcame the French and their allies. Perhaps the soldiers were much smaller than today, as the low ceiling in the area of the bar counters is barely over five feet high. By the mid-19th century the pub was in the ownership of the Hoddesdon brewer, Christie’s, and they maintained ownership until 1928 when the company and its pubs were sold to the Cannon brewery of Clerkenwell. In 1930 Cannon were bought by Taylor Walker and the company’s beers became firm favourites until 1960 when a further sale saw the pub taken over by Ind Coope who were subsequently subsumed into the Allied Breweries empire. The 1960s were a time when cask conditioned beer was all too often sold under top pressure and so it was at the Goat. It wasn’t until the mid-1970s that CAMRA’s campaigning began to persuade the big brewers of the day to bring back handpumps and dispense the beer in the traditional way, without the use of CO2 gas. And even slower it was at the Goat – handpumps not appearing until 1982, selling Ind Coope’s Bitter and Burton Ale. After the Monopolies Commission Report, where the big pub owning companies were told to offload some of their pubs, the Goat was sold to a pub company but in 1997 it was bought by Marston’s and then three years later by Greene King, who own it today.

Turpin Rides a Classic Car?

There are stories of a female pub ghost and reference to a visit by Dick Turpin – but then he must have held his beer well, because a string of pubs in East Herts seem to claim a visit by the brigand and usually his quick escape, via a handy open window. For around 40 years, on the first Sunday of every month, Hertfordshire Classic Car Club members gather after 11am and bring their array of cars and vehicles to the green – a sight to behold for visitors. Our picture, left, was taken c1982. Today’s Goat is still at the heart of the village community, with a strong local following and a darts team. Landlord David Sharp has been at the helm for six years. “We run a traditional family and community pub with a welcome for everybody – and their dogs”. Greene King IPA is the standard beer but there are two additional guest beers with pub regulars playing a hand in what comes next – Skinner’s Betty Stogs a firm favourite. There is a full menu with food being offered both lunchtimes and evenings (not Sunday evening) with steak nights on Wednesdays and roasts on Sundays. Popular with ramblers and cyclists, the Goat is open all day from noon, Monday to Sunday.

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