There are a number of historic, traditional pubs in The Lanes which attract loyal, local customers but they’re even keener to welcome the tidal wave of daytrippers passing by their door.

The Pump House definitely falls into this category and when I visited all three doors were flung wide open to encourage our European cousins to venture in.

This must be one of Brighton’s oldest buildings and there is even a piece of memorabilia explaining how it got its name – apparently the beach used to be further inland, so a pump was used to bring the seawater in as people felt it had health giving properties.

I, on the other hand, decided to stick to the ale and at the barman’s recommendation selected a pint of Bunny Hop at just 3.5 per cent. This cost me £4.15 and seemed fairly reasonable, but I did notice they’d stretched happy hour from 4pm to 8pm during the week so maybe I benefited from that. If so the figure topping a fiver is more what you might expect in these parts.

It was a very dirty looking pint when served and doesn’t clear as you drink it – I hope there was no sea water. It did have reasonable flavour but was a little watery for me, though the temperature was good – not like some of the frosted nonsense I’ve been served recently.

To keep my biggest dog- loving fan, good ole Lee Merry, up to speed I’m pleased to report there were two boxes of Bonios on the large, central bar and a bowl with fresh water at my feet. Perhaps I should start taking my unruly hound on spying visits?

The dirty looking pint grew on me as I got through it, so declining the offer of a glass of strawberry Pimm’s for £4.85, I had another one.

This place revels in the city’s history and there are facts dotted about all over the mass of wooden panelling. There are two large bay windows with beautiful square panes of glass which give fantastic views to the front of the pub, though they do make you feel you might be in a shop rather than a bar – incidentally, they also look on to the Sussex Arms, which column regulars will know is a favourite of mine.

Now, I can only assume it was the way places were laid out in medieval times, but why do so many of these older pubs have to have their facilities upstairs? I enjoyed the old-fashioned mirrors and pictures on the way up, but a man of my age needs to go regularly and it’s no good for my knees.

The toilets themselves are bedecked in the black and white tiles currently so in vogue and are undeniably well kept, but I’d prefer them at ground level.

I did notice the upstairs room, labelled Miss Elliot’s Dining Room, appeared to be set up as a conference area, though I’m sure it works just as well as an extended dining space.

Returning to my high-backed bench, luxuriously covered in old red leather, I noticed the barman had taken this week’s flower delivery and was arranging lilies from a box.

The Nicholson company was itself formed in 1873 and, as such, it’s a strong believer in traditional pubs – there might be one electronic fruit machine tucked away in a corner but there’s nothing else, no darts, pool, jukebox or games of any other kind.

If anything, the pub seemed a little grand and there were many suited and booted folk present with at least three trilby hats visible.

The barmaid wasn’t as posh in her Curious Brew T-shirt but her much longer haired colleague was more adventurous with his, still tasteful, collared paisley patterned shirt.

At this point a lone guitar busker set himself up outside the main door and challenged the pub’s own musical system for a little while. To be fair he wasn’t bad but for whatever reason moved on, or was moved on, fairly quickly.

The barman was happy with his lilies by now and was explaining to a Frenchman that Curious is made in Kent with Champagne yeasts – both bartenders then busied themselves with tasks ahead of a possible rush later in the evening.

There was absolutely nothing to detract from my visit to the Pump House, staff were polite, service was fine, there’s old fashioned wood as far as the eye can see, there’s even a few tables available on the pavement and pumps dotted about to remind you of the name, but for me there was something missing.

I don’t know why, but for a pub with such a wonderful history it lacked some soul. It was fine, absolutely fine, but that’s it. There just wasn’t that spark that would have me rushing back.

I gazed wistfully at the Sussex Arms and left the Europeans to marvel at the history.

The Pump House Market Street, Brighton BN1 1HH

Decor: Four stars

The wood overload wouldn’t work at home but it’s perfect here.

Drink: Three stars

A dirty looking pint, but it did the trick and there were many others available.

Price: Three stars

At £4.15 it was particularly reasonable for this neck of the woods.

Atmosphere: Two stars

This is where I fear it loses out, there’s a certain something missing

Staff: Three stars

Proficient – he arranges a mean flower and she whistles well.

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