News, Nuggets & Longreads for 2 June 2018: Flanders, Erith, Easterly Road

Here’s everything that grabbed our attention in writing about beer and pubs in the past week, from D&D to WWI.

First, a great sto­ry by Liam Barnes that just missed the cut off for last week’s round-up, about the part pubs and bars are play­ing in the resur­gence of Dun­geons & Drag­ons:

On first glance this branch of Brew­Dog in Not­ting­ham might seem like your typ­i­cal hip­ster hang­out, but one thing gives it a slight­ly dif­fer­ent air: numer­ous hand-drawn maps, some char­ac­ter sheets, and volu­mi­nous bags of 20-sided dice.… It’s the bar’s month­ly table­top gam­ing night – and reg­u­lars love it.… “I think the escapism is the best bit,” says 27-year-old gamer Han­nah Yeates. “For a few hours you can become a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent per­son liv­ing a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent life, mak­ing deci­sions you’d nev­er make and for­get­ting what’s hap­pen­ing in the real world.… It’s lib­er­at­ing.”


German troops sharing beer during World War I.

For All About Beer Christo­pher Barnes has writ­ten a long, detailed, heav­i­ly illus­trat­ed account of how World War I affect­ed French and Bel­gian brew­eries:

The monks of West­malle and Achel were forced to flee to The Nether­lands. The Bel­gians, in their defense of Antwerp, destroyed a tow­er at West­malle to pre­vent it being used as an obser­va­tion post by the approach­ing Ger­mans. Achel was occu­pied by the Bel­gians and shelled by the Ger­mans until they were able to solid­i­fy their hold on Bel­gium. To keep cit­i­zens from going back and forth over the bor­der with The Nether­lands, the Ger­mans erect­ed an elec­tri­fied fence along the bor­der. Since Achel strad­dles the bor­der of The Nether­lands and Bel­gium, the fence bisect­ed the abbey’s lands. When the call went out from the Ger­man War Depart­ment, the monks of Achel were able to sad­ly watch as their brew­ery was dis­man­tled. No beer was brewed at Achel until 2001.


Price list in a pub.

Via @corbettcollins here’s an inter­est­ing bit of research from YouGov: how much do British peo­ple think a pint ought to cost? And in which parts of the coun­try does it devi­ate fur­thest from that expec­ta­tion?


Screengrab of the Stones of Manchester.

And here’s an inter­est­ing pho­tog­ra­phy project: archi­tec­tur­al his­to­ri­an Paul Dobraszczyk has com­plet­ed his com­pre­hen­sive sur­vey of the build­ings of Man­ches­ter and put them online, cat­e­gorised and cat­a­logued, at The Stones of Man­ches­ter. Treat your­self to a browse through the pubs cat­e­go­ry.


Oakwood, 1938.

It was #BeeryLongreads2018 last Sat­ur­day. We includ­ed a cou­ple of the ear­ly posts in last week’s round-up and so it prob­a­bly makes sense to round-up the rest here. First, a one-off come­back post from Leigh Lin­ley – a won­der­ful reflec­tion on the his­to­ry of Beefeater chain pubs and one in par­tic­u­lar, The Oak­wood in Leeds:

As in most sum­mer child­hood mem­o­ries of the ear­ly 1990’s, it’s hot. Real­ly, real­ly hot. Hard, pow­der-blue sky, short shorts and sweaty poly­ester repli­ca foot­ball shirts. Ice pops drib­bling neon sug­ar-water down your wrist. Leeds Unit­ed are play­ing – or have played, actu­al­ly – and have won. I know this even though we’re play­ing in the car park of The Oak­wood pub with a rapid­ly-deflat­ing ball. We’ve all been assigned the req­ui­site per­sonas: Speed, Stra­chan, Chap­man, Dori­go et al. Every­body wants to be Gary Speed or Lee Chap­man, of course. It’s less of a foot­ball game, more a Bat­tle Royale with a 99p foot­ball. The radio’s on in the bar and the odd explo­sive cheer emanates from inside when the dou­ble doors to the beer gar­den swing open, kicked by a guy doing try­ing to port three pints of Skol to his mates out­side. The ter­race adja­cent to the car park is full, and pints upon pints of gold-hued lager are being necked with almost as much feroc­i­ty as the mid-day sun beat­ing down on this cor­ner of Leeds. Cars rolling up and down East­er­ly Road are beep­ing their horns and through the tree-line to the dual car­riage­way beyond I can see the odd flash of a white, yel­low and blue bar scarf draped down the side of a near­ly-closed car win­dow. We play. The sound from the pub and the ter­race is just chat­ter: low, grown-up talk hum­ming under the cranked com­men­tary, sail­ing on that ashen crown of cig­a­rette smoke that pubs had in those days.


A fake ID card.

Josh Far­ring­ton at Beer and Present Dan­ger also found him­self wax­ing nos­tal­gic, recall­ing his own teenage efforts to com­mence a drink­ing career:

Because I was a par­tic­u­lar­ly nerdy 16-year-old, I asked my father’s per­mis­sion to go out drink­ing for the first time. And, because I was a par­tic­u­lar­ly nerdy 16-year-old, and there was in his view very lit­tle trou­ble that I could wind up get­ting into, he said yes. So, one Fri­day night, dressed in my finest shirt and shini­est shoes, we head­ed down town to a pub where my mate Will guar­an­teed we could get served.… We couldn’t. As it turned out, they’d been raid­ed the week before by the police, who’d checked the IDs of all the furtive drinkers hud­dled in the back room, and giv­en the own­ers a very stern talk­ing to.


The Northern Whig bar.

Mac Suirtáin’ wrote his first ever blog post about an inci­dent of Irish his­to­ry, the part pubs played in it, and what those pubs are like today:

In Ire­land, a rebel­lion that was ges­tat­ed in the back­room of var­i­ous pubs in Belfast set forth a chain of events that have defined the last two decades on the island.… The Unit­ed Irish­men rebel­lion of the 1790s is one of the most per­son­al­ly fas­ci­nat­ing chap­ters of Ireland’s colour­ful his­to­ry. Despite being lit­tle over 200 years ago (and just over a cen­tu­ry before par­ti­tion) the events of the upris­ing sound almost alien to some­one like myself who grew up in a North­ern Ire­land of bina­ries and cer­tain­ties, where, with very few excep­tions, you could box peo­ple as British/protestant/unionist/loyalist or Irish/catholic/nationalist/republican.


A detail from Haden's etching.

Final­ly there’s this piece from Steve at Wait Until Next Year on The Yacht Tav­ern, Erith, south Lon­don, which is real­ly about art and ide­al­ism:

Sey­mour Haden sits on the bal­cony of the Yacht Tav­ern, Erith. Sey­mour Haden, the famous etch­er and sur­geon. Two very dif­fer­ent jobs, on the sur­face, and yet, on reflec­tion, there are some sim­i­lar­i­ties. The scalpel and the graver look inter­change­able to the lay­man. Both occu­pa­tions require pre­ci­sion, deci­sive­ness, del­i­ca­cy.…. Etch, from the Dutch etsen, from the Ger­man ätzen, from the Old High Ger­man azzon, “give to eat, cause to bite, feed”. Sey­mour Haden sits on the bal­cony of the Yacht Tav­ern, Erith. He sits, and he etch­es.


And that’s that for anoth­er week. We’ll fin­ish with this Thought for the Day:

One thought on “News, Nuggets & Longreads for 2 June 2018: Flanders, Erith, Easterly Road”

  1. I was brought up not far at all from The Oak­wood – it was one of the near­er pubs. Always thought it was a bit grim, to be hon­est, and being a Beefeater, it wasn’t the sort of pub my dad went to as a CAMRA mem­ber (albeit we’re talk­ing a decade or so ear­li­er than this par­tic­u­lar lon­gread). There was a huge short­age of pubs around Oak­wood and Round­hay more gen­er­al­ly. The Oak­wood was actu­al­ly bang on the bor­der of Oak­wood (a sub-sub­urb of Round­hay, one of the leafi­est and most pros­per­ous parts of the city) and Gip­ton, one of the worst estates in the entire coun­try. The Oak­wood had more of a Gip­ton feel to me. Con­fus­ing­ly, The Gip­ton was actu­al­ly in Oak­wood (the pub is now less con­fus­ing­ly called The Round­hay) and at times was actu­al­ly not a bad place to drink some of Whitbread’s bet­ter beers – Cas­tle Eden, for exam­ple. There weren’t many oth­er pubs with­in walk­ing dis­tance; The White House was an absurd­ly posh, snob­by place sell­ing Greenall Whit­ley beers, and The Man­sion in Round­hay Park was pre­cise­ly that, although remark­ably unsnob­by in com­par­i­son – tech­ni­cal­ly a free house, it gen­er­al­ly had Webster’s beers on. There was also a some­what incon­gru­ous Work­ing Man’s Club that served Wards’ beers not that far away.
    All in all, some very unin­spir­ing pubs, but an unusu­al selec­tion of beers for Leeds at the time – not a Tetley’s pub in sight. There are actu­al­ly more and bet­ter drink­ing estab­lish­ments in the area now.

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