Tag Archives: 1970s

Yellowing Pamphlets

During the last few months, we’ve acquired a few obscure second-hand books and magazines from charity shops and on Ebay.

Though none of them is exactly essential for the scholar of beer and pubs, each has some little nugget or other.

Pubbing, Eating & Drinking in the South WestPubbing, Eating & Sleeping in the South West is a paperback guidebook first published in 1972. Our faded copy (still lurid enough to damage the eyeballs of anyone who might glance at the cover without suitable protection) is the 1974 edition, and cost us 10p less than the original cover price.

It’s not a deep or complex piece of work but does give details of the beer, food and facilities at various pubs in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. Many listings are accompanied by line drawings like this one of the Ship Inn, Mevagissey:

Ship Inn, Mevagissey.

There are also a couple of nice vintage advertisements (‘Take it Easy! Worthington E’) and the restaurant guide is an added bonus for those with a desire to time travel to the land of prawn cocktails and steakhouses.


Inn & Around: 250 favourite Whitbread pubsWe haven’t finished digesting Inn & Around: 250 Whitbread pubs (1974) but have already found lots to enjoy.

It was, we suspect, intended as a ‘stopper’ for the Campaign for Real Ale’s own Good Beer Guide which was first published in paperback in the same year, but it’s hard to imagine anyone being so loyal to one large, rather unpopular brewery that they’d want a guide to only their pubs.

Those who cling to a particular vision of the pub as a Victorian-Edwardian, essentially male space, designed for hard drinking, will find here evidence of where it all ‘went wrong’: “The pub today is a place for family entertainment. And — with the increasing spread of children’s rooms and beer gardens — that means all the family.”

Whitbread’s flagship post-war pubs are given plenty of coverage alongside established classics such as (yet again) the George Inn at Southwark. This one was named after the Daily Express cartoonist:

Giles, Prebend Street, London N1.

It doesn’t appear to be there any more. How many of these flat-roofed, wood’n'plastic boxes survived more than twenty years?

As well as illustrations, there are also some splendidly groovy colour photographs.


countryman

Finally, there’s the Winter 1977/78 edition of the Countryman magazine, which contains an article by Michael Dineen called ‘Real Ale Returns to the Pubs’, as well as a short spread of photos of Hook Norton brewery by John P. Crook.

There isn’t much new in the tale as told here, but it does give a concise account of the big brewers’ response to CAMRA:

However, one of the acceptable facets of capitalism is that it can turn criticism to its own advantage. Benefit from the strictures…. The result is that many brewers have appropriated CAMRA’s enviable nationwide propaganda, calling their cask-conditioned ales ‘real’ or attempting in other ways to cash in on the publicity by naming so evocatively that drinkers’ memories are stirred again by words like old, tap, genuine, Burton and fine.

The conclusion of the article could be read as a comment on our post from yesterday:

[CAMRA] want quality with tradition… [They] may also be yearning for the glorious uncertainties of, say, La Romaneé Conti, the rarest and finest of Burgundy’s red wines which… stubbornly refuses to be defined scientifically; which may one year be the stuff of dreams and memories and the next, just another wine. [Real ale] has something of that uncertainty.

London Entertains, 1974

Reader John-Paul Clough (@jp_clough on Twitter) contacted us this week with a scan of a bit of old newspaper his parents had found lining a drawer. As far as we can tell, it’s a supplement from a local London newspaper published in January or February 1974, and probably sponsored by the London Tourist Board.

As well as suggesting zoos, galleries, museums and boat trips, it looks as if it might provide the itinerary for our next (public transport assisted) historic London pub crawl:

Pick of the Pubs (1974 newspaper headline)

PUBLIC HOUSES, or pubs, are an integral part of the British way of life. If you are an overseas visitor and have never been in one before, then don’t miss the experience. Beer is different here than in most other countries, and there’s a much bigger variety. Here is a selection of pubs we think you’ll enjoy visiting.

Bull & Bush
North End Road, Hampstead, NW3. Made famous by the old music-hall ditty “Down at the old Bull & Bush”, this pub has a well-preserved Hogarth Bar. Brewery: Ind Coope.

City Arms
West Ferry Road, E14. Well of the usual tourist track, so give it a try and rub shoulder with the East End dockers. There’s a nightly disco. Brewery: Watneys.

Coal Hole
Strand, WC2. A quaint 17th Century theatre pub in the heart of the theatre-land. Brewery: Ind Coope.

Dirty Dick’s
202 Bishopsgate, EC2. Cobwebs, dust and weird ornaments go to make up the bizarre atmosphere of this famous City pub, with a history dating back over 200 years. A Free House.

Duke of Cumberland
New King’s Road, SW6. Victorian-style pub, bearing the name of Queen Victoria’s notorious uncle. Voted pub of the Year for 1971. Brewery: Young & Co.

Feathers
20 Broadway, Westminster, SW1. Downstairs Victorian atmosphere bar. Up the spiral staircase to the Flamingo Bar with disco and go-go girls every night (from 8 pm) and lunchtimes Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Brewery: Bass Charrington.

George Inn
Borough High Street, SE1. Last remaining galleried coaching inn in London, used as a setting by Dickens in ‘Little Dorrit’. Built in 1677, the pub is a treasury of old beams, cobblestones and historic atmosphere. Brewery: Whitbread.

Prospect of Whitby
57 Wapping Wall, E1. Riverside pub steeped in history. Very popular, particularly at weekend. All kinds of music and jazz. Brewery: St George’s Taverns.

Once again, the same old ‘classics’ feature, though the City Arms is a bit of a novelty. (It became the City Pride and was demolished last year.)

And what the heck is ‘St George’s Taverns’? A pub company rather than a brewery, we’d guess.

Notes

  1. The ‘pub of the year’ probably refers to the Evening Standard awards.
  2. The City Arms became the City Pride and was demolished in 2012.

Smelling a Brothy Beer, 1975

Detail from a 1979 recruitment advertisement.

Detail from a 1979 recruitment advertisement.

In 1975,  Dave Bennett, a member of the Campaign for Real Ale, proposed a formalised ‘vocabulary of taste’ for beer to rival that used by ‘wine snobs’.

It seems to have been a publication of some sort, and we’ve put out feelers to confirm that, and perhaps get sight of a copy.

In the meantime, we’ve gleaned from the Daily Mail of 17 February 1975 that Bennett attempted to dodge accusation of pretension by suggesting that beer should have a ‘smell’ instead of a ‘bouquet’, and proposed the following rather down-to-earth flavour descriptors:

  • black treacle
  • brisk
  • brothy
  • clean
  • grainy
  • greasy
  • honey
  • metallic
  • rhubarb-like tooth-sharpening
  • viscous
  • warming
  • mousey
  • oily
  • watery.

Treacle, mice, metal and grease? Not so much French château as the two-up-two-down terrace. We rather like ‘brothy’, even if we’re not quite sure how it applies to beer.

It would take another ten years for anything like this approach to take hold within CAMRA, and then not without opposition (for more on which see Des De Moor’s essay in the 2011 anthology CAMRA at 40).

This post is something of an extended footnote to a passing observation we have made in the first draft of our book. Expect more of these in the months to come.

Pub Tenants in Revolt

Watneys barrel.Serious discussions are underway about state intervention in the pub company (‘pubco’) business model, and pubco tenant landlords are organised and on the move with the Fair Deal for Your Local Campaign.

Forty years on, what we are actually seeing is the final phase of a slow motion response to the 1969 Monopolies Commission report on the brewing industry, and the 1972 Erroll report into pub licensing, and the Fair Deal campaign is a continuation of a battle publicans have been fighting for years.

Back in the seventies, it was the big breweries from which the pubcos evolved which bore the brunt of similar protests, and Watney’s had particular difficulties. When, in 1970, they attempted to replaced eighty tenant publicans with pub managers, the National Federation of Licensed Victuallers (NFLV) — the pub tenants union, in effect — called for its members to boycott Watney’s products wherever possible. Hotels, bars and freehouses stopped taking Red Barrel and the story of the plucky underdogs made headlines. Eventually, though they weren’t able to prevent the rise of the managed house, the NFLV did win compensation for the tenants in question, and improved terms for those taking on tenancies thereafter.

That wasn’t the only kind of protest, though, and this kind of showboating was particularly emotive:

Mr Jim Lewis recently had a wake at his pub, the Bridge Inn, near the hamlet of Skenfrith, Monmouthshire… The guests’ merriment could be traced to a real sense of loss, for the wake was for the pub itself… Whitbread and Company, the brewers who owned the pub and the two others within a radius of about two miles, had decided to withdraw the license… (The Times on 12 June 1971.)

Mock funerals and wakes are still happening, of course, as at the Black Lion in Kilburn, North West London, only last week.

We’re still learning about Erroll, and we’ve barely begun our reading on the tremendously complicated consequences of the Beer Orders of 1989, so we’re cautious to opine, but what does seem likely is that if pubcos sulk and withdraw from the market, and the model collapses, it might take twenty years for things to settle down again. In the meantime, the change would be painful for almost everyone, but perhaps worth it in the long run.

More Dregs from the Drip Tray

Truman's London Stout.

These are a few bits and pieces that didn’t warrant a blog post of their own.

  • Mini book review: Beers of Britain by Warren Knock and Conal Gregory (1975). This oddity was recommended by Michael ‘Beer Hunter’ Jackson in the intro to his book The English Pub in 1976. A slim paperback, it takes the odd approach of reviewing pubs by region in prose, rather than, Good Beer Guide style, with alphabetical entries. Worth reading for (a) an informed but view that isn’t CAMRA propaganda; (b) to find out what beer in your town was like forty years ago; and (c) for the occasional nugget, e.g. St Austell didn’t pasteurise their keg bitter in the seventies. A little dry for our tastes, though.
  • An account of election time in the eighteen-thirties, from Recollections of Old Taunton by Edward Goldsworth (1883): ‘The elections in Taunton were a disgrace to all England. The first candidate’s arrival was made known by several hogsheads of beer being rolled on the Parade. It was then drawn off in buckets, pitchers, and jugs, and most of it consumed on the spot; the effect of which was soon both audible and visible, by singing, shouting, swearing, and fighting among the men, and screaming, cap-tearing and hair-pulling by the women… The second candidate would do as the first, and in addition would issue tickets for obtaining beer at public houses…’ As a result, when asked by the Poll Clerk how he had decided who to vote for, a local called Simon Duffer replied: ‘I hear they gives away the most beer.’
  • We were pondering the ages of CAMRA chairs in the early days. We don’t know how old Chris Holmes or James Lynch were The first, Michael Hardman, was 25 when he took the job in 1971. Christopher Hutt (1973) was 26. Gordon Massey (1974) was 27. Chris Holmes (1975) was 30. Chris Bruton (1976) was 31. James Lynch (1978) was 32. Joe Goodwin (1979) was 31. Tim Amsden (1980) was 29. When did CAMRA last have a chair under the age of 35? It would take a pretty ambitious character to pull it off today. (UPDATED after correspondence with James Lynch, July 2013, and further research.)
  • You all saw this long post we wrote on West Country brewers Starkey, Knight & Ford, didn’t you? Good. Just checking.
  • We’ve been posting some things which are too short to blog but too long to Tweet over on Facebook, by the way.