A Pub from a David Peace Novel

As more than one commentator has pointed out, the news in the UK at the moment — police corruption at the time of Hillsborough and during the Miners’ Strike, the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal — is straight out of the work of Yorkshire-born crime novelist David Peace. On the blogging and writing front, too, we have our heads firmly buried in the 1970s, which only adds to the strangeness.

Peace popped into our heads in particular as we found ourselves researching early post-CAMRA ‘real ale pubs’. (That is, a new type of multi-tap freehouse that emerged to capitalise on the ‘real ale craze’ of the mid-to-late seventies.) An early example, from c.1976, seems to have been the Brahms & Liszt on East Parade in Leeds which was at least part-owned by a consortium of Leeds United players — presumably some of the very same players depicted in Peace’s The Damned United. It was in the basement of Devereux House, the upstairs floors being occupied by a chicken-in-a-basket nightclub with the same owners and the splendidly period name ‘The Nouveau’.

The B&L is in the 1978 Good Beer Guide with (we think) an offer of ten real ales and one ‘real cider’. Former barman Chris Martin, who worked there in 1976, told us that ”There were other pubs in Leeds that sold real ale but this was the first time I had seen a long bar filled with so many strange ones.’ We also know that, from around 1977, Martin Sykes and the Selby Brewery produced a special bottled pale ale for them.

The B&L closed in the 1980s and Devereux House was demolished in around 1990.

When we read lists of famous mid-70s real ale pubs, we hear about the Barley Mow near St Albans, the Hole in the Wall at Waterloo and maybe Becky’s Dive Bar, but never this place. Are there any other pubs like this from beyond London and the Home Counties, from 1976 or earlier, that we should know about?

This seemed like another good opportunity to share the Ian Nairn clip above...

14 thoughts on “A Pub from a David Peace Novel”

  1. Try the Duck Hagley Road Edgbaston Birmingham and the Black Horse Warwick both 1978 GBG
    also the Sun Lambs Conduit Street Bloomsbury London had 12 handpumps c1977 Pakenham Arms Clerkenwell and CAMRA Investments various locations

    1. While The Sun in Lamb’s Conduit Street had a wide range of real ales and a relaxed atmosphere, the quality could be execrable – my impression was that the number of different beers available, combined with the relatively small size of the pub, meant that some beers didn’t sell fast enough. The result was that the most interesting beers sometimes turned out to be vinegar.

      Wasn’t the Princess Louise in Holborn something of a standard-bearer for real ale pubs in those days as well?

  2. It’s noticeable comparing the 1977 and 1979 Good Beer Guides that there are a lot more of these multi-beer pubs in the latter. Unforgiveably, I threw out my 1978 edition many years ago 🙁

    1. Our thesis is that they started to appear in 1976 and then, just like breweries, became a full-blown, frenzied craze in the two years that followed. (One of those bubbles.)

      Saddest bit of the Barley Mow story is that they sold out to Watney in 1986 who apparently then put their fined bitter on all eighteen pumps.

        1. Yes, exactly so. We’ve got a great article from 1978 (I think) in which a commentator describes pubs full of ‘CAMRA fellow travellers’ as ‘no longer real locals’.

          They’re all part of the same phenomenon as the ‘craft beer bar’.

          Something CAMRA ‘higher-ups’ seemed to agonise over at the time, too — pubs for ‘middle class trendies’ (Protz) wasn’t quite what Christopher Hutt had in mind in The Death of the English Pub.

          1. I give you that there are substantial similarities, but I would say a key difference is that the “multi-beer freehouse” was bringing together in one place beers that were available in ones and twos in many “ordinary” pubs, whereas the “craft beer bar” concentrates on beers that are not available at all in “ordinary” pubs.

  3. As was the trend in those days, many Leeds Utd players owned pubs, the most well know being Peter Lorimer’s Commercial pub in Holbeck. Not even sure if it’s still a going concern – if it is I doubt that he’s got anything to do with it anymore. I like the Peace anology though; the recent weeks do have a Peacean quality to them; missing girls, misty weather (here in Leeds), police disgrace, Savile (groan), Hillsbrough and – i’m loath to say – a recent pitch invasion by a Leeds Utd ‘Fan’ casting our team back into the press with terms such as ‘animals’ and ‘morons’. All of us, of course. Strangely, some friends and I were making the exact same point (how it’s all felt a bit 70’s/80’s of late in terms of Leeds Utd in particular) the other day in the pub.
    Ps. There’s a good forum called Secret Leeds that has regular pub threads with memories of old pubs, give it a try if researching the area again.

  4. There was a chain of multi-beer pubs in and around the West Midlands including the Old Washford Mill at Studley near Redditch and the Malt & Hops in Stafford. They may have also had the Malt & Hops in Bristol.

    The explosion of multi-beer pubs in Bristol between 1977 and 1979 is very marked in the two GBGs.

  5. Possibly slightly later c1979 the Oakleigh Manningham Bradford was a multi beer house which had many characters straight out of a David Peace novel and was in the right area.
    I recall that The Washford Mill was a brew pub and was owned by Michael Cannon who later bought and sold the Morrels chain of pubs in Oxfordshire

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