Best of Bedford with Gareth Barber

This month we put our ‘Best of Bedford’ questions to Gareth Barber, the owner of Esquires and Bears & Tales.  At the heart of Bedford’s live music scene, Gareth is responsible for bringing some of the biggest names and emerging artists to the town.  He (or Tom the barman) is also responsible for some of the best cocktails in Bedford!

Name: Gareth Barber

Occupation: Serial event promoter and cocktail tester

Born here or blow in?  Born, not raised, reintegrated

Best thing about Bedford?  All the positive people that make the great things happen and try to improve their town instead of moaning about it, oh and Esquires and Bears & Tales of course (plug, plug, plug!)

Best place to get a coffee or cuppa?  It has to be Coffee and Art for me, always the perfect coffee temperature (91C), good surroundings and decent food too. A close second for Flame Rouge bike shop down Bromham Rd, a hidden gem who have kept me going in the office on many a morning.

Best breakfast?  I don’t really eat breakfast, but Elevenses opposite Bears & Tales make a mean bacon and egg roll.

The one place you’d recommend to visitors?  It has to be the river. Whenever we get bands come to town, if they have time after soundchecks I tell them to go take a wander down there. That new café down there is decent too (The Longholme).

Ever read John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress?  No, I’ve only ever read the Mr Men collection, Peanuts books and Viz.

Bedford’s best boozer?  If we’re talking traditional boozer then you can’t go wrong with either The Devonshire Arms off Castle Road or The Welly. I don’t really get time to go to too many other drinking holes as I’m always stuck in my own!


Best Bedfordian?  I would probably say John Bunyan, I hear his books are very good. Either that or the Mayor, he’s done lots of really good work for the cultural aspects of Bedford. I hated that civic theatre anyway and enjoy paying parking fines there now, convenient.

Ever eaten a Bedfordshire Clanger?  No, it looks pretty grim doesn’t it, no one should be messing with jam and meat. No slant on the paper of the same name though.


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