Beer history pubs

QUICK Q&A: Which Was the First Wetherspoon Pub in the Good Beer Guide?

Questions & Answers -- 1906 magazine header graphic.

A week or so ago David Martin asked: ‘Rumour has it that Wetherspoons Milton Keynes was the first JDW pub to get in the GBG. Any idea if this is fact?’

We pretty quickly established that this couldn’t be true — beer and pub people are terrible for inventing and embellishing this kind of lore, unfortunately. But we couldn’t rest until we’d answered the implied supplementary question: which was the first Wetherspoon’s pub to make it into CAMRA’s annual Good Beer Guide?

There was no way to answer this other than ploughing through old copies with a list of early Wetherspoon pub names at hand. That, in itself, is harder to come by than you might think: there’s no official master-list with dates and many are no longer owned by JDW.

But we think we’ve got there, thanks in part, once again, to the wonderful The first Wetherspoon pub in the GBG was, we can say with some certainty, Dick’s Bar at 61 Tottenham Lane, London N8, which made the edition for 1983.

We can be sure because in 1982 when this volume of the GBG was compiled there were only three Wetherspoon pubs: the original Marler’s/Martin’s/Wetherspoon in Crouch End (1979); this one, Dick’s Bar (1981); and J.J. Moons on Landseer Road, Holloway (1982). This is from November 1982, about when the GBG for 1983 would have been wrapping up to go to print ready for a launch in February:

Advert from the London Drinker, 1982.
SOURCE: The London Drinker, November 1982, via West Middlesex CAMRA.

So, that was a lot of work for a whole heap of Who Cares? but at least that itch is scratched. It’s interesting, we suppose, that it happened this early.

Obligatory pre-emptive plug: there’s a chapter given over to the history of the J.D. Wetherspoon chain and the rise of the superpub in our forthcoming book 20th Century pub: from beerhouse to booze bunker. Watch this space and all that.

6 replies on “QUICK Q&A: Which Was the First Wetherspoon Pub in the Good Beer Guide?”

we are not worthy. That’s verging on zeal. They opened The New Moon in a row of shops underneath our flat in Kenton in 1989 ish. They promised no music and a women friendly atmosphere so at least they’ve been consistent on one point. I was thrilled to find a range of non-London beers at a keen price, but like most suburban pubs in that area it was too dull for words. I kept trekking into Ladbroke Grove on Fridays for a proper night out

I recall going to Dick’s several times, 1987/88, don’t recall it as a Spoons by then, do recall having a Newquay Steam and being very unimpressed with it. Think the Kinks’ studio was very close.

They got shot of the first six or seven quite early on. They were all a bit off-brand anyway — ‘Harry’s Bar’! The Rochester Castle in Stoke Newington, which they acquired in 1983, is now the longest-lived branch of JDW.

The Rochester (or the Tanners as it was known), was a regular of mine in 92-94 when I lived round the corner and Pete Brown lives a street away.

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