The Alpine Gasthof: Let’s Crack This

We’ve been working on an article about German Bierkellers in English towns in the 1970s and as a side quest found ourselves looking into one of the UK’s weirdest pubs: The Alpine Gasthof, Rochdale.

We’ve nev­er been, though it’s very much on the wish­list, but Tan­dle­man wrote about his vis­it ear­li­er in the year:

Per­haps the odd­est of Sam Smith’s pubs is its take-off of a Ger­man local pub, uproot­ed it seems, in looks if noth­ing else, from Garmisch or some oth­er Alpine resort. Only it is in Rochdale. Not only is it in Rochdale, but it is on a busy main road, which if you fol­low it for not too long, will take you to Bacup. This is the Land that Time For­got. Don’t do that… Not only is it incon­gru­ous­ly in Rochdale, but it is in a less than salu­bri­ous part of town… The pub has the usu­al Ger­man style high slop­ing roof and inside is, well, a sort of pas­tiche of a Ger­man pub, but done, unusu­al­ly for Sam’s, sort of on the cheap.

Although there are lots of pho­tos, and though every­one seems quite fas­ci­nat­ed by the place, there don’t seem to be many con­crete facts. When was it built? Why?

We did­n’t hold out great hopes for any infor­ma­tion from the brew­ery which is noto­ri­ous­ly tight-lipped but did get this, which is a start:

The Alpine Gasthof was built in the 1970s (don’t have the exact date to hand) because the pre­vi­ous pub we had on that site had to be demol­ished for road widen­ing. To have a bit of fun we decid­ed to build a pub mod­elled on the Brauerei Gasthof Hotel in Aying, Ger­many because at that time we were brew­ing Ayinger beer under licence.

We can well imag­ine Sam Smith’s execs going to Aying dur­ing licence nego­ti­a­tions and being charmed by the orig­i­nal, pic­tured here in a shot tak­en from the gallery on the hotel web­site:

Brauereigasthof-Hotel-Aying exterior.

Although, odd­ly, the pas­tiche does­n’t look that much like it. Here it is pho­tographed in 2013, via Ian S on Geograph.org.uk under a Cre­ative Com­mons Licence:

The Alpine Gasthof, Rochdale.

With a bit more to go on we reck­on we can guess that the date of its con­struc­tion was around 1972, at the tail-end of the theme pub craze (Fur­ther read­ing: Chap­ter 5 in 20th Cen­tu­ry Pub) and just as the Ger­man Bierkeller trend was kick­ing in. That’s also when Sam Smith’s start­ed brew­ing Ayinger-brand­ed beers. But we’re awful short on actu­al evi­dence. We thought this might be some­thing…

Google Search result.

…but there are two prob­lems. First, though Google Books has the date of pub­li­ca­tion as 1972 the par­tic­u­lar issue ref­er­enc­ing the Alpine Gasthof might be from, say, 1978. We’ve come across this prob­lem in the past. It’s hard to know until you have the jour­nal in front of you, ful­ly read­able. Sec­ond­ly… It says Wether­by, York­shire. Sure­ly some mis­take? But, no, appar­ent­ly not – there is at least one oth­er (slight­ly odd) ref­er­ence to an Alpine Gasthaus in Wether­by, giv­ing the address as Bor­ough­bridge Road, LS22 5HH. That led us to this local news sto­ry about the burn­ing down in 2005 of the Alpine Lodge, a two-storey chalet-style build­ing in Kirk Deighton (Wether­by). There are var­i­ous oth­er bits out there includ­ing this inter­view with the cou­ple who ran it for sev­er­al decades and a teas­ing­ly indis­tinct pho­to tak­en from a mov­ing car in bright sun­light on this Face­book nos­tal­gia web­site. We’ve tak­en the lib­er­ty of repro­duc­ing it here, with some tweaks – hope­ful­ly no-one will mind.

The Alpine Inn AKA the Alpine Lodge.

What a bizarre build­ing to find there on the side of the A1.

And that leaves us with two Alpine-style Sam Smith’s pubs to be puz­zled about.

So, do drop us a line if you know any­thing con­crete about the ori­gins of either pub (that is, not reck­on­ings or guess­es); have friends or fam­i­ly mem­bers who might have drunk in them; or live near either Rochdale or Wether­by and fan­cy pop­ping to your local library to look at news­pa­pers for 1972.

19 thoughts on “The Alpine Gasthof: Let’s Crack This”

  1. I remem­ber the Kirk Deighton one as a build­ing very clear­ly; my dad always said it was a dump and nicer before they Alpineised it. There’s a bit about it’s pre-Alpine his­to­ry in this sto­ry: http://www.ripongazette.co.uk/news/former-landlords-celebrate-64th-wedding-anniversary‑1–2651153, which I found from this thread: http://samsmiths.info/forum/index.php?topic=33396.0
    Kirk Deighton is only a few miles from Tad, but still a rather odd loca­tion for an Alpine-themed pub; Rochdale, though, seems even stranger.
    Here’s the death of it: http://www.ripongazette.co.uk/news/blaze-destroys-disused-pub‑1–2625350

    Here’s a link that does­n’t show a pho­to, but says one exists from the ear­ly 1900s of the pub: http://www.northyorkshirenews.com/news/a‑view-of-our-halfway-house‑1–2681839

    Pic and a bit more here, but at least some of the info is wrong (date of fire): http://www.leodis.net/display.aspx?resourceIdentifier=2006817_161814&DISPLAY=FULL

    1. Nick – a cou­ple of those are already linked in the post!

      Most of the rec­ol­lec­tions of the York­shire one we can find online seem to say either that (a) it was great fun or (b) a dump. Lots of peo­ple men­tion the lights with which it was cov­ered – not very Bavar­i­an, but pre­sum­ably help­ful if you’re try­ing to lure in pass­ing dri­vers.

      1. Sor­ry, so they are… sor­ry, got rather car­ried away.

        Yes, it had lots of lights and that cer­tain­ly made it stand out. I only ever remem­ber it in Alpine form, so would love to know more about when it was con­vert­ed – it seems to have been pret­ty suc­cess­ful in its pre­vi­ous guise.

  2. A Man Who Remem­bers The Sev­en­ties writes: my imme­di­ate reac­tion to the pic­ture of the Gasthaus – and its lack of resem­blance to the orig­i­nal – was an auto­mat­ic “well, chalet style, innit”. Dredg­ing my mem­o­ries, it seems to me that “chalet style” or “Swiss look” was A Thing in the ear­ly to mid-sev­en­ties. Piz­za­land (estab­lished 1970) had a Swiss decor theme in its ear­ly years, pre­sum­ably on the grounds that this would seem less scar­i­ly for­eign than an Ital­ian look. (This is the peri­od when the stan­dard Piz­za­land lunch con­sist­ed of two slices of piz­za, cole slaw and a jack­et pota­to. No, you did­n’t get to choose the piz­za.)

    1. Sounds great!

      Research­ing the Bierkeller arti­cle we were amused to find how many were mar­ket­ed as Swiss, Aus­tri­an or even Scan­di­na­vian. There was clear­ly some pop­u­lar idea of a gener­ic Euro­pean Ger­man-ish, Alpine-ish cul­ture that sort of smooshed all those countries/regions togeth­er.

      1. I think it’s all tied up with the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of ski cul­ture, after the “aris­to­crats at St Moritz” phase and before the French indus­tri­alised the process, when it was still per­ceived as rel­a­tive­ly exclu­sive and sophis­ti­cat­ed to take a (delayed) Dan Air from Man­ches­ter air­port to go ski­ing in Aus­tria or Switzer­land. Cer­tain­ly it looks like the archi­tect of the Gasthof had done more ski­ing in Aus­tria than study of the fin­er points of Ger­man archi­tec­ture.

        It’s not just those two – there’s a def­i­nite Alpine feel to the Sports­man in Strines, which I guess was extend­ed around this time. It’s not explic­it, but it’s just a gen­er­al vibe – big fire­place at one end, high beamed roof, helped by it over­look­ing the bot­tom of the Goyt val­ley. It would­n’t sur­prise me if it had shared an archi­tect with the Gasthof.

        And you can’t leave this sub­ject with­out men­tion of the Snow Goose, which is a rare exam­ple of an extant theme pub. “Shab­by chalet” in this case, despite being just down the road from Mac­cles­field sta­tion. I guess one dif­fer­ence is that it works as a pub, it’s a decent free house that serves as the unof­fi­cial tap of Storm Brew­ing round the cor­ner.

  3. I remem­ber the “Alpine House” as a derelict. It was beside the old A1 and could be seen from the road as you drove past, as I fre­quent­ly did on busi­ness head­ing to New­cas­tle or Wash­ing­ton. It was marked as such on road maps.

    I’m mak­ing some equiries local­ly about the Gasthof. It can’t just have sud­den­ly appeared!

    1. If you can bung any intel our way we’d be hap­py to write some­thing up for your mag, if that’d be of inter­est.

  4. I went to the Alpine House as a young 15 year old along with my Par­ents & some friends of theirs who lived in Knares­bor­ough. I recall it had an accor­dion play­er and I had too much to drink. (2.5 Pints).

    I’d date that as late 1973 when I went but can’t be total­ly sure.

  5. I won­der whether the alpine hut decor in the Ever­est Room at the Pen y Gwryd was done at about the same time – a dif­fer­ent man­i­fes­ta­tion of the same cul­tur­al moment? Or whether it’s com­plete­ly unre­lat­ed.

    1. Swiss Cot­tage – odd place, good OBB, rea­son­able price.

      Oth­ers – any­one tried check­ing local author­i­ty plan­ning appli­ca­tions online ?

  6. I remem­ber the Alpine Inn at Wether­by very well. It was only a cou­ple of miles up the A1 from where I live. I reck­on it was still open into the ear­ly nineties, cer­tain­ly 1991 when we moved to the areas. A friend of ours lived there when her par­ents ran it at one time, she is the land­la­dy of a local pub now, her moth­er passed away and her father ‘did one’ back to Ire­land. It’s not real­ly at Kirk Deighton, although that may be the cor­rect postal address and it’s some dis­tance away from the vil­lage. It stood at the side of the A1 south­bound, in the days when it was a two car­riage­way road, with round­abouts and lay-bys and gaps in the cen­tral reser­va­tion to cross over. There was a bit of a small ser­vice sta­tion ‑petrol and shop on the same site. The cur­rent A1M runs on a sep­a­rate course to the East of the old road, but if you exit the A1M at Wether­by ser­vices and dri­ve towards Wether­by and then do a right at the first round­about up the old A1 (A168) towards The Bridge at Wal­sh­ford then you will go past where it was. Dr Ship­mans wife lived in a cot­tage near­by for a while after his arrest! Pri­or to the fire it was being used as a ‘Cannabis Grow’, a sub­stan­tial one, as it was a big pub. There is a sus­pi­cion the fire was linked to the crim­i­nal activ­i­ty. Most peo­ple in the Wether­by area will be able to tell you plen­ty of tales about The Alpine Inn, it was a noto­ri­ous drink­ing estab­lish­ment, back in the day when drink dri­ving was the norm – well you could­n’t real­ly walk to it could you!

  7. Here’s anoth­er one for you. The Swiss Cot­tage at Went­bridge, Pon­te­fract, W.Yorks. More a restau­rant than a pub. We used to go there for tea on a Sun­day after­noon when the old man closed the pub at 3pm and we did­n’t open up again until 7pm. If you had trout you point­ed at the one in the tank you fan­cied and they fished it out alive and cooked it for you! I always had Wiener Schnitzel and it was good.

    Here’s a pic­ture; https://www.flickr.com/photos/pontefractheritagegroup/9134182287/sizes/z/

    It suf­fered the same fate as the Alpine Inn at Wether­by; http://www.pontefractandcastlefordexpress.co.uk/news/restaurant-fire-quot-arson-quot-police‑1–1223423

    1. We came across that one and got a bit excit­ed for a moment but it’s not quite the same thing. The oth­er two are fair­ly over the top pas­tich­es of Ger­man archi­tec­ture; this one looks like a stan­dard pub with a few nods to chalet-style but not much else. Still, more evi­dence of the trend.

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