Yet More Pre-CAMRA Beer Organisations

Pub User's Preservation Society memorabilia.

In a comment on our post about the National Society for the Promotion of Pure Beer, John Lamb brought to our attention to other proto-CAMRAs — the Ancient Order of Frothblowers and the Pub Users’ Preservation Protection Society.

Though we’d never heard of it before, it turns out the AOFs isn’t especially obscure. The excellent Friends of the Frothblowers website has more information about them than most people will ever need but, for the really obsessive, there is even a book. (And, for those who like a good vintage beer mug, prepare to feel envious at the sight of Steve ‘Beer Justice’ Williams’ remarkable charity shop purchase.)

There’s less information about PUPS out there. Pint in Hand, the magazine of the Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood, ran an article on them in 1998 which we’re going to try to track down but, in the meantime, here’s a summary from a later issue of the same publication (link to PDF):

The front page of the first issue of their Journal was reproduced – dated May 1946. Subjects of concern included price, décor, rude publicans and short measures (not a lot changes, does it!). Membership cost one shilling and included a ‘beerometer’, a patented device to show how much money the customer had been cheated out of by the head on their beer.

That really does sound quite CAMRA-like, doesn’t it?

UPDATE 18 April 2013: the January 1979 edition of CAMRA’s own What’s Brewing newsletter contains an article by Barrie Pepper and Andrew Cooper with a lot more information on PUPS, based on a collection of cuttings and publications found in a Lancaster bookshop.

It was… founded by a West End author, Townley Searle, who had brushed with a landlord, been refused a drink, and felt there was much wrong with the public house system… [Its] arguments were not so much about the quality of beer, but more about the quantity and the unfair rights of landlords.

They cite an edition of the Sunday Pictorial from 1946 which says the Society had ‘4000 eager wallop-neckers who insist they’re the victims of much tavern skullduggery’.

Hopefully, CAMRA, Barrie Pepper and Andrew Cooper won’t mind us reproducing the photographs above.

UPDATE #2 18 April 2013: and now we’ve found a letter from Mr Searle published in The Times on 20 May 1946 under the heading ‘The Status of Froth':

No one objects to the ‘collar’ of froth above the rim or brim. The trouble is that so often the collar starts an inch or so below the rim, with the result that the customer is defrauded of about two-pennyworth of beer.

8 thoughts on “Yet More Pre-CAMRA Beer Organisations”

  1. There is a Frothblower’s Arms pub in Salisbury, we visited it a few years ago and took pictures for a friend who also has an interest in them.

  2. The Senior Blower (or higher rank) will inspect his immediate surroundings making sure that he is amply equipped with tankards (full) , a paviors beetle or piffle snonker, cash or oast box, cork screw, thumb screw, booklet, pennant and other Froth Blower’s implements deemed necessary to preserve dignity and order

    This is pure Richard Boston (“piffle snonker” especially – a paviour’s beetle is a large mallet, which presumably the SB used to snonk any piffle that might arise). Or perhaps it’s nearer the mark to say that Richard Boston was pure this. Reminds me of some of the more laborious pub/drinking games I’ve been exposed to – I remember one where all involved had to keep a straight face, no “tittering” being permitted (subject to a forfeit) until the Chairman gave the command “Titter!” Hours of fun, possibly.

    1. Worth noting that the first CAMRA constitution (March 1972) was full of ‘hilarious’ club slang like slutching/slutchers for drinking/drinkers, but Hardman and Lees sobered up and, embarrassed, rewrote it.

    2. “Bunny”, that’s what the game was. One member of the group had to hold up both hands as bunny ears and stare solemnly around the rest of the group; the people on his/her left and right also had to hold up one ‘ear’ apiece. The game element consisted of nominating somebody else to be ‘bunny’, whereupon they (and their neighbours) had to take over with due speed and solemnity. Forfeits consisted of drinking one ‘eye’*s worth of beer (dimple mugs assumed). If everyone was laughing – or, worse, if nobody was – the chair would call the end of a round and everyone had to drink an eye’s worth of beer.

      The long winter evenings must have flown by.

      *This was the term used for the ‘dimples’ in a dimple mug – so basically a third of a pint. (Before I checked I was convinced mugs had four rows of ‘dimples’ (or eyes) but apparently not.)

    1. Only when we were searching for info on the NSPPB! We’ve got it on our to do list, though, because we’re wondering about its influence on the ‘all malt, no nasty additives’ trend in 70s microbrewing.

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