Location: Margetts Road, Kempston, Nr Bedford, Bedfordshire, UK.
Date: 18 June 2005

Margetts Road appears at first to be just a residential street but sitting there amongst the houses is The Smiths Arms.

The Charles Wells owned establishment is very much a sports pub, so liable to be busy on match days and during other sporting events. But the interior of The Smiths Arms is surprisingly spacious thanks to an extension on the right side.

What The Smiths Arms lacks in apostrophes, it more than makes up for by housing a nice shiny Stern Lord of the Rings pinball.

The game is located in that extension and is unfortunately right next to the entrance to the gentlemen's toilet, so some players may have to adjust their playing pose to avoid other clientele.

Game pricing is steep at £1 per game or 3 games for £2 but the base replay score is a reasonable 20M with a 20M boost so some free games can be expected to offset the initial investment.

That £1 buys you a game on a machine that is not only in lovely condition with all the switches and lamps working 100% but it's also pleasantly loud. It's been a long time since I've played a pinball in a non-arcade where you really can hear all the sounds. Play well on this game and there's a good chance people will start to take notice of you as it calls out "triple jackpot five, triple jackpot six" or Gandalf announces the start of Fellowship Multiball.

The additional ball guard over the sword lock is present and working while the flippers remained strong during over an hour of constant play.

The only negative points about the game itself are the outlane widths which are set to maximum and the old software it is running - version 4.04 whereas the current release is 9.00 - so you'll miss out on some of the finer touches and new features. Perhaps the suppliers - Claremont Automatics - could update it.

The positioning of the game eliminates lighting glare on the glass and there's a handy table on which to place your pint.

Speaking of beverages, The Smiths Arms sells Wells Eagle IPA and smooth draught bitter, Red Stripe, Fosters, Carlsberg, Guinness original and extra cold plus Scrumpy Jack cider, all on draught.

Manager Mark Williamson was nursing a sports-related(!) injury at the time of this visit which means the pub doesn't open until 3pm during the week. This should change and normal opening hours should be resumed once the cast comes off.


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