On 3 November, 1973, around six hundred members of the Campaign for Real Ale descended on the Staffordshire town of Stone to protest against Bass Charrington’s plans to close the local brewery, Joule’s.
The march was led by CAMRA Chairman Christopher Hutt, author of The Death of the English Pub, and organised by Terry Pattinson.
They were joined by locals, members of the Transport and General Workers Union, and the town’s brass band. The march was scheduled to begin at Westbridge Park at 3:15 p.m, and, after a circuit round the town centre, wound up at the cinema, where Hutt gave an impassioned speech.
Though trade union-style activity like this generated publicity (a 12-minute slot on Nationwide, no less) it did not otherwise achieve results. The decision to shut down and demolish Joule’s brewery was irreversible, and, anyway, the Big Six couldn’t be seen to back down every time the peasants revolted. The brewery closed in 1974.
But there is an interesting footnote to this story, and one which perhaps supports the optimism we expressed in this post: in 2010, Joule’s returned from the dead, the brand, recipes and yeast strain being purchased from Molson Coors and transferred to a new microbrewery in Market Drayton. We haven’t tried their beer, but look forward to doing so.
Our book, Brew Britannia, will include a section on CAMRA’s campaigning tactics in the seventies, from marches to beer festivals.