This is another in our series of posts sharing photographs and details about post-war pubs from mouldering magazines. This time, it’s John Smith’s of Tadcaster and the magazine is The Magnet.
We’ve only got three editions — we’d love more — but they’re packed with good stuff if, that is, your definition of good stuff is profiles of plain-looking modern pubs on housing estates in places like Sheffield and Doncaster.
The Flarepath, Dunsville, South Yorkshire
The headline for this piece in The Magnet is A ROYAL AIR FORCE PUB — The Flarepath, which opened in November 1967, served RAF Lindholme, near Doncaster.
The name refers to an illuminated runway used by bombers returning from night-raids over Germany during World War II. (Again, another wonderful name squarely of its time.)
The carpet in the lounge was specially woven and featured a Lancaster bomber taking off and the bars were decorated with RAF squadron crests. There were photographs of various types of bomb, again from the Imperial War Museum archive, on the walls.
Its first managers were Joyce Varley and her husband Arthur, late of the Magnet Hotel, Bentley.
Is it still there? Yes, with John Smith’s signage outside, too.
We’ve just acquired a couple of editions of Tetley’s in-house magazine from the 1960s and thought we’d share some pictures of the then state-of-the-art modern pubs featured.
We usually scan these things and effectively thrown them away on Twitter but thought that we ought to put them somewhere a bit more permanent in case they’re interesting or useful for other researchers, or just for the enjoyment of people who might recall the pubs in question as they were in their heyday.
The first batch of photos are from The Huntsman for Autumn 1964. This picture is on the front cover:
Explanatory text inside says: ‘The Cup & Ring, the new opened Tetley house on the edge of the moors by Baildon. It is almost certainly the only public house in the country with this name — taken from the cup and ring markings carved by Early Bronze Age people on certain stones of Baildon Moor.’ Today the pub is — obviously, of course, it goes without saying — gone.
Next up is The Earl Francis at Park Hill in Sheffield of which the magazine says:
[The] third Tetley ‘pub’ in the vast comprehensive area of Corporation flats which will ultimately house 10,000 people, was named as a reminder of the local historical association with the Shrewsbury family… The first two of these three Tetley houses were each an integral part of the ground floor of the block of flats in which they were situated. The Earl Francis differs in that it is a separate building. To ensure harmony with its background of flats the shell was built by the Corporation; but the main entrance and canopy, the internal planning and structure, and all fixtures and fittings were dealt with by The Company.
We’ve just stumbled upon an 1888 newspaper article which gives us a fascinating account of the production of another early British lager.
The piece was published in the Leeds Times on 9 June that year under the heading ‘Breweries in Leeds and District’ and was credited to ‘A Rambling Reporter’. It is quite substantial even if it reads as something like advertorial and includes profiles of Tetley (Leeds), John Smith (Tadcaster) and Bentley & Co of Woodlesford, Leeds. The latter is by far the most interesting:
To meet different tastes and requirements ten different kinds of ale are brewed. First comes ‘Timothy’, which is exactly of the same character as the brew known in the old seats of education as ‘College ale’. Then there are X, XX, XXX, and XXXX, the number of Xs simply denoting the quantity of materials used, the strength, and price. But, after all, the distinctive features of Eschaldwell [brewery] are the Pale Ale, Light Bitter, and English Lager qualities, which differ from the X series, inasmuch as the chief element is hops, not malt.
That’s almost a tasting note, and quite a useful one. Fortunately, there is also a bit more information about the brewery’s lager in particular:
The latter only requires to be passed through a chip cask and thus obtain the pitchy flavour to serve as an admirable misrepresentation of German Lager. The English Lager has found much favour in high quarters, it is popular in the saloons of passenger steamers, and follows one of the judges about on circuit.
Gary Gillman has researched pitch, and especially the flavour imparted by pitch, over the course of many blog posts but you might start with this one if you want to know more:
Readers will recall that early court cases I’ve discussed for the Budweiser trade mark refer to pitch being imported from Bohemia to line A-B’s casks. Presumably the characteristics of Bohemian pitch were liked and its contribution to flavour wanted, no doubt an acquired taste but all tastes are in beverages. I think I can recall the taste in Pilsner Urquell from the 1970s and 80s, when the brewery still used pitched wood vessels to store the lager. It was a slightly musty taste but pleasant. Today it is absent from the beer since no wood is used in its production now.
Something about the newspaper article made us wonder if the pseudonymous author might actually be Alfred Barnard, author of the four volume Noted Breweries of Britain and Ireland, published between 1889 and 1896. Sure enough, Bentley’s is profiled in Volume I, with a passing mention for the lager:
The cellarman produced many other specimens of ale, beer and porter, among them the firm’s English lager Beer, a light, aromatic drink, quite equal to the Continental Lager, and equally sparkling.
Oddly, though, none of Bentley’s newspaper advertisements from this 1880s or 1890s mention the lager, only its bitter tonic ale, EIPA and stout. Perhaps the experiment fizzled out?
Martyn Cornell’s Amber, Gold & Black mentions a lager brewery operating in Bradford in 1877; William Younger of Edinburgh began producing lager from 1879; Knights Stocks & Co. of County Durham at around the same time; a dedicated lager brewery was launched in Tottenham in 1882; and in Wrexham in 1883. It sounds as if Bentley was brewing faux-lager of the sort popular among British breweries a century later but, still, it’s probably worth adding to the timeline.
Finally, as a little bonus, the article also contains a note on Bentley’s drive to premiumisation:
Throughout it is evident that while commoner tastes are not neglected, a leading idea is more particularly to cater for fastidious palates.
There’s a detailed history of Bentley’s by Brian Benson at the Woodlesford Station website. There’s information on how to find Alfred Barnard’s book and other useful texts here. If you want to know more about lager in Britain in the 19th Century check out Ron Pattinson’s mini-book and/or blog; the Martyn Cornell book mentioned above; and, of course, our own Gambrinus Waltz.
Update 01/02/2016: We got our Youngers confused; now fixed.
Like many others, I watched the Beer Hunter series when it was freely available on YouTube or Vimeo, with Dutch subtitles, about six years ago, and I loved it. It fitted in perfectly with where I was on my ‘beer journey’, after moving to Leeds from Plymouth and finding North Bar. I think I found it online after watching all the available Zak Avery video blogs about classic beers.
It’s probably best I don’t go into where I finally sourced copies of the six Beer Hunter episodes, but since then I can’t fault Channel Four for being so open and willing to let us use these episodes for the events. I needed the expertise of the Leeds Bicycle Film Club (who put on cinema events at The Reliance) to contact the right people and ask the right questions but all Channel Four want is a credit for them and the production company (Hawkshead Ltd) to be visible at the events.
Last week’s visit to the north of England (Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield) was actually as near as we’re getting to a holiday this year.
We figured that, even if we didn’t get chance to plug Brew Britannia, we’d at least have fun drinking decent beer in great pubs and bars, and seeing the sights. But, as it happened, we were invited to appear and/or speak at a few venues.
At Port Street Beer House on Sunday afternoon, we were in competition with blazing sunlight which had turned Manchester into a dead ringer for Barcelona. Nonetheless, several people turned up to share a beer with us and buy advance copies of the book.
It was great to meet everyone, but we have to admit that we were especially pleased to make the acquaintance of Len, a reader who usually ‘lurks’, and who settled our nerves with a few kind words in the first few minutes.
We also found ourselves thinking that someone — maybe us — ought to write a proper portrait piece about 6TownsMart, whose commitment to, and first-hand knowledge of, Belgian beer is awe-inspiring. ‘Brewers as rock stars’ is a well-worn angle, but dedicated drinkers deserve some attention too.
At North Bar in Leeds on Monday, we got to try the Kirkstall Brewery beer Revitalisation, thoughtfully developed by Matt Lovatt from some vague thoughts we put in an email. We drank lots of it, and it prompted plenty of conversation among the Leeds crafterati, as well as finding favour with a few of the locals with more conservative tastes. We’ll write more about it in a substantial post about Boddington’s to follow in the next week or so.
We did our best to give a reading, but our puny voices struggled a bit against the non-stop partying which characterises the venue. Someone made us drink tequila, and Ghost Drinker plied us with wonderful, wonderful gueuze. We signed and sold a lot of copies of the book, which saved us lugging any back to Manchester, though the 20 copies of The Grist we acquired were heavier and more awkwardly shaped.
We had two engagements in Sheffield. First, at the Thornbridge-owned Hallamshire House, on Wednesday night. This was the first actual ‘talk’ we gave. Forty or so people, many of them actually there for a German student’s birthday drinks, listened politely as we spoke about the origins of the term ‘craft beer’. Some sidled up with questions, including, to our delight, the German birthday boy, who wanted to know why porter was so hard to find: “Ah,” he said on hearing our off-the-cuff answer. “This is the same as with Dortmund Export.”
We were delighted to meet Jim Harrison, one of the founders of Thornbridge — he is a very charming man — but cringed as we watched he and his wife read what we’d written about them in the book from across the room. They didn’t take offence, but seemed perhaps a little hurt that we’d portrayed them as ‘lordly’: “I came on the bus tonight.”
As the crowd thinned, we were joined by Thornbridge brewers Rob Lovatt and Will Inman, who indulged our naive questions about processes and yeast, and politely disagreed with a couple of our thoughts on Thornbridge’s beer. Very civilised.
We finished on a real high note with a ticketed talk at the Hop Hideout on Abbeydale Road in Sheffield. It is a tiny but lovingly-managed specialist beer shop in the corner of a larger unit selling vintage… stuff, so the talk actually took place in the cafe next door. With blinds drawn, it felt like a lock-in or speakeasy, and talking to a crowd who wanted to be there was a real treat.
Over the course of a couple of hours, we tasted:
John Smith’s Bitter — a ‘palate cleanser’ and reminder of the ‘bad old days’.
Chimay Rouge — the first ‘world beer’ to hit the UK, in 1974.
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale — highly influential on the use of hops in British brewing.
Marble Dobber — the kind of beer British brewers made once they’d ‘got’ New World hops, and with a tentative connection to Brendan Dobbin.
Camden Hells — exemplifying the post-1990s trend for ‘craft lager’, and exploring questions of provenance.
Wild Beer Co Ninkasi — exploring the ‘outer limits’ of diversity in British beer, and finishing on a showstopper.
Most people seemed to agree that Chimay was cruelly overlooked these days; that SNPA was still a really good beer; that Dobber was on fantastically good form; and that Ninkasi was extremely complex and interesting. Watching someone smell the Cascade aroma of SNPA for the first time was a treat, too.
We’ll be in London in the week commencing 16 June and will hopefully be able to announce a programme of appearances in the coming days. We’re also at Beer Wolf in Falmouth, Cornwall, on 28 June from 4pm. Come and see us somewhere, at some time!