News, Nuggets & Longreads for 5 May 2018: Bernard, Budweiser, Broken Bones

Here’s everything that grabbed our attention over the past week in the world of beer and pubs, from #MeToo to George Washington.

First, via @niccipeet, a star­tling sto­ry from the Czech Repub­lic by Kasia Pilat for the New York Times:

A social media post­ing by a major Czech brew­ery that appeared to mock the #MeToo move­ment has prompt­ed strong reac­tions, draw­ing praise, crit­i­cism and some soul-search­ing on sex­ism in this for­mer com­mu­nist repub­lic.… The Face­book post by the Bernard Brew­ery in Humpolec, about an hour’s jour­ney from Prague, fea­tures the like­ness of a near­ly tooth­less old woman with the hash­tag #MeToo super­im­posed in white. “The world’s gone crazy,” reads the Czech-lan­guage text on the post, which is also embla­zoned with the brewery’s logo. “Brace your­selves.”

In the UK Bernard beers have fair­ly gener­ic brand­ing – almost bland – and it’s hard to con­nect this kind of adver­tis­ing, and the fol­low-up com­ments from the brew­ery, with the stuff you see on sale at the Sheffield Tap and else­where. Anoth­er reminder (along with the reac­tion to this) that oth­er places and cul­tures can often be in dif­fer­ent places to yours on these issues.


Broken wrist X-Ray.

We’ve been miss­ing Kirst Walker’s posts but it turns out there was a good rea­son: she broke her wrist per­form­ing on stage, as she explains in this typ­i­cal­ly enter­tain­ing piece on how booze and painkillers mix, or, rather, how they don’t:

I was wor­ried about some plans I might have to can­cel so I asked the sur­geon how soon I could go about my nor­mal life after the oper­a­tion.… He assured me I could still go to Lon­don to see Hamil­ton and looked affront­ed that I doubt­ed his skills in repair­ing me. My next trip ‘out’ after the oper­a­tion was three days lat­er when I went to see Niall Horan in con­cert. There I stood at the back tak­ing full advan­tage of my invalid sta­tus to get my cousin to run to the bar for me. I had one pint of John Smiths in a plas­tic cup and lat­er felt like my dreams were run­ning out of my ears. That’s when I reduced the dose of codeine.

Oh, that turn of phrase! Won­der­ful.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “News, Nuggets & Lon­greads for 5 May 2018: Bernard, Bud­weis­er, Bro­ken Bones”

Further Reading #3: Boddies and Opening Times at Manchester Library

Researching 20th Century Pub we spent time in some great libraries and archives with rich collections of pub- and beer-related material. This is the third in a series of blog posts intended to highlight great resources we hope you’ll go an look up yourself.

Manchester’s Cen­tral Library feat. Archives+, as we think it is for­mal­ly called, is on St Peter’s Square oppo­site the famous Mid­land Hotel. It’s a grand build­ing con­struct­ed in the 1930s but in clas­si­cal style and is round with a dome. You’ll find most of the impor­tant stuff on the ground floor – not only ref­er­ence mate­r­i­al on open access but also the archive read­ing room.

We found access­ing the archives a bit of a bureau­crat­ic ordeal, if we’re hon­est. News­pa­pers on micro­fiche are avail­able on site along with a cer­tain num­ber of ref­er­ence texts but the stuff we were after – brew­ery records, local plan­ning doc­u­ments – had to be ordered well in advance, a few at at ime. That’s fine if you hap­pen to live in Man­ches­ter but trav­el­ling from Pen­zance as we were at the time it was rather lim­it­ing. Still, the library staff could not have been more help­ful, not least in point­ing us to alter­na­tive sources for some doc­u­ments such as this online archive of his­toric plan­ning pub­li­ca­tions.

City of Manchester Plan, 1945

Via those off-site stacks we did man­age to get access to some beau­ti­ful hand-drawn and coloured city plan­ning maps the size of bed­spreads, their text applied with sten­cils or rub-down let­ter­ing. They were a night­mare to han­dle and not actu­al­ly all that much use in the end though there was cer­tain­ly a thrill attached to see­ing PUBLIC HOUSE or PH marked here or there. (See main pic­ture, above.)

The best things we looked at – again, not much of which actu­al­ly informed 20th Cen­tu­ry Pub – were records from Boddington’s Brew­ery. Of course we looked up recipes in the brew­ing logs, though Ron Pat­tin­son has done a much more thor­ough job of pro­cess­ing those since we tipped him off to their renewed avail­abil­i­ty. We also ploughed through board minute books which were crammed with fas­ci­nat­ing details – notes on spe­cif­ic pubs and pub­li­cans, indus­tri­al acci­dents, local pol­i­tick­ing and the birth of the nation­al Beer is Best cam­paign in the 1930s, to name but a few. There are also lots of inserts like this:

Report on the 1966 hop crop.

Out­side in the main ref­er­ence library, into which you can wan­der from the street more or less when­ev­er you like, for as long as you like, and help your­self to mate­r­i­al from the shelves, there is a real trea­sure trove of use­ful stuff.

First there’s what would seem to be a com­plete set of the beer and pub his­to­ry pam­phlets pub­lished by Neil Richard­son. Most are about the size and weight of a stan­dard mag­a­zine and have the appear­ance of fanzines with coloured card cov­ers, rough­ly repro­duced pho­tographs and word-proces­sor-for­mat­ted text. The qual­i­ty of the con­tents varies too but the best among them, e.g. The Old Pubs of Chorl­ton-upon-Med­lock, are trea­sure troves of oral his­to­ry and for­aged fact. (Some are now avail­able for Kin­dle at rea­son­able prices if you fan­cy a quick taster with­out trav­el­ling to Man­ches­ter.)

The Old Pubs of Ancoats

Then there’s the bound set of edi­tions of the local Cam­paign for Real Ale mag­a­zine Open­ing Times run­ning from 1994 to (we think) the present day. Man­ches­ter was an inter­est­ing place on the beer front in the 1990s with Bren­dan Dobbin’s pio­neer­ing exper­i­ments with New World hops, the birth and evo­lu­tion of Mar­ble, the com­ing of Mash & Air, and the arrival of the biggest pub in Britain. Open­ing Times record­ed all this as it unfold­ed so that over the course of a few issues you can see, for exam­ple, adver­tise­ments for Dobbin’s ales fol­lowed by wor­ry­ing reports of the health of the busi­ness and, final­ly, a notice of its clo­sure. It was also rather star­tling to come across the arti­cle below among the pub crawl reports and tast­ing notes:

Headline: "THE BOMB".

Final­ly, there are numer­ous local his­to­ry books and mem­oirs which, though not exclu­sive­ly about pubs or beer, touch upon them at var­i­ous points, often at length. We were par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed to dis­cov­er Jere­my Seabrook’s 1971 book City Close Up which was based on inter­views and con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple in Black­burn, Lan­cashire, dur­ing the sum­mer of 1969. There are sev­er­al sec­tions touch­ing on pubs and drink includ­ing one chap­ter called ‘Evening in the Wheat­sheaf’ in which three young men, engi­neer­ing appren­tices, dis­cuss ‘going out’:

ALAN: You start drink­ing when you’re about fif­teen, pubs around [the cen­tre of Black­burn], nobody stops you. There’s nowt else to do. When you first start drink­ing, you sup a right lot of shit, you don’t know what a good pint is. They’ll serve you any­thing, they’re just mak­ing their mon­ey out of you when you start.

And once you’re done with Man­ches­ter there’s always Bolton a short train ride away where you can find copies of the raw notes from the Mass Obser­va­tion pub obser­va­tion project of the late 1930s, or the Greenall Whit­ley papers at Chester.

Further Reading #2: RIBA Wonderland

Researching 20th Century Pub we spent time in some great libraries and archives with rich collections of pub- and beer-related material. This is the second in a series of blog posts intended to highlight great resources you can go and look up yourself.

We had assumed that the library of the Roy­al Insti­tute of British Archi­tects (RIBA) might be dif­fi­cult to get into but, no, it’s a dod­dle. You just turn up at the gor­geous build­ing on Port­land Place, Lon­don W1, and sign your­self in with the require­ment to show some sort of pho­to ID the only hur­dle to jump.

The library itself is small but tran­quil with plen­ty of qui­et bays, bal­conies and cor­ners to work in. There are lots of desks and plen­ty of pow­er points, and the library has a lib­er­al pol­i­cy with regard to the use of cam­eras and smart­phones, as long as you obey the usu­al rules of copy­right and redis­tri­b­u­tion. (Which, of course, we have slight­ly bent by using some of the images below, but only at low-res, most­ly grainy and out of focus at that, and pure­ly by way of com­men­tary on the library itself.)

Open Access

There’s a huge amount of stuff rel­e­vant to the inter­ests of pub geeks avail­able on open access before you even start both­er­ing the stacks. There’s a com­pre­hen­sive col­lec­tion of books on pub archi­tec­ture, for exam­ple, includ­ing stan­dard works by peo­ple such as Ben Davis and Mark Girouard as well as more niche pub­li­ca­tions. Lynn Pearson’s 1989 book The Northum­bri­an Pub: an archi­tec­tur­al his­to­ry was nice to stum­ble across, for exam­ple.

There are also bound vol­umes of var­i­ous archi­tec­ture and build­ing mag­a­zines dat­ing back to the Vic­to­ri­an peri­od that you are free to take from the shelf and browse. Some are indexed bet­ter than oth­ers and ref­er­ences to pubs in par­tic­u­lar can be hard to track down, list­ed as they might be under pub­lic hous­es, tav­erns, inns, pubs, drink­ing estab­lish­ments, hotels depend­ing on the cus­toms of each year and the prej­u­dices of the index­er.

We found lots to enjoy in par­tic­u­lar in The Archi­tect and Build­ing News, The Archi­tects’ Jour­nalThe Brick Builder and Build­ing. Pubs didn’t come up all that often beyond bouts of bick­er­ing on the let­ters pages but when they did it tend­ed to be in sub­stan­tial fea­tures with lots of pic­tures and plans. The issue of ABN for 23 Octo­ber 1936, for exam­ple, had a big, lav­ish­ly illus­trat­ed fea­ture on the Myl­let Arms at Perivale, with cred­its for every detail of the decor and build­ing: “Carv­ing to Sign: Gertrude Her­mes”. The AJ for 24 Novem­ber 1938 had an epic arti­cle by the archi­tect of the Myl­let Arms, E.B. Mus­man, called ‘Pub­lic Hous­es: Design and Con­struc­tion’, with descrip­tions, maps and pho­tographs of tons of pubs, and 1930s Art Deco exam­ples in par­tic­u­lar.

Hand-drawn plan.
A dia­gram from Musman’s 1938 arti­cle.

Anoth­er arti­cle of par­tic­u­lar note – do go and look it up if you get chance – is ‘The Post-War Pub’ from the Archi­tects’ Jour­nal Infor­ma­tion Library for 20 May 1964. It is based on a sur­vey of post-war pubs com­mis­sioned by the Brew­ers’ Soci­ety and led by archi­tect Geof­frey Salmon who we assume also wrote the arti­cle. If you’re inter­est­ed, as we are, in estate pubs, flat-roofed pubs, booze bunkers, or what­ev­er else you want to call them, this is the moth­er­lode, crammed with acute obser­va­tions, pho­tographs and sta­tis­tics – this is where we found the esti­mate of the num­ber of pubs built in the post-war peri­od cit­ed in 20th Cen­tu­ry Pub.

Title page: The Post-War Pub.

At this point we should men­tion the staff who could not have been more help­ful on our mul­ti­ple vis­its. At one point, hav­ing explained what we were research­ing, one of the librar­i­ans got a bit ani­mat­ed try­ing to recall some nugget of infor­ma­tion. He turned up at the desk where we were work­ing half an hour lat­er with an ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry arti­cle about pubs that was con­fus­ing­ly indexed any­where but that he remem­bered hav­ing come across years before. Now that’s above and beyond.

Title page: The Modern Public House.

Into the Stacks

There’s also a huge amount of mate­r­i­al kept under lock and key but no less acces­si­ble for that. As it’s a small, fair­ly qui­et library noth­ing takes long to emerge once a slip has been sub­mit­ted – ten min­utes, per­haps? It was through this route that we were final­ly able to get our hands on Basil Oliver’s 1934 book The Mod­ern Pub­lic House. As it hap­pened it con­tained most of the same mate­r­i­al as his lat­er must-read The Renais­sance of the Eng­lish Pub­lic House but it was good to ver­i­fy that with our own eyes, and also to read the short intro­duc­tion by the great Impe­r­i­al archi­tect and occa­sion­al pub design­er Edwin Lutyens:

The Pub­lic House rep­re­sents what should be the hub of our wheel of Life, essen­tial to our mate­r­i­al need and sec­ond only to the Church that stands and rep­re­sents our spir­i­tu­al neces­si­ty. The Church is to the spir­it as the Inn is to the flesh and, if good and well designed, they baulk the Dev­il him­self.

Of less inter­est, per­haps, are the var­i­ous gov­ern­ment pub­li­ca­tions on plan­ning, hous­ing and pub­lic health, most of which men­tion pubs only in pass­ing. Still, we found them use­ful, in lieu of easy to access online ver­sions. (Which, seri­ous­ly, there ought to be.) The same might be said for obscure archi­tec­tur­al guide­books such as Hugh Casson’s New Sights of Lon­don from 1938 which has notes on a few pubs and includes this par­tic­u­lar­ly love­ly illus­tra­tion:

The Comet, Hatfield, as illustrated in 1938.

So, there you have it: per­haps our favourite library of all of those we explored in the last year or two. You can search the cat­a­logue online – try ‘pubs’ for starters and if the mile-long list of results doesn’t give you the urge to vis­it then noth­ing will.

Further Reading #1: The Newcastle Beerpendium

Researching 20th Century Pub we spent time in some great libraries and archives with rich collections of pub- and beer-related material. We barely got to scratch the surface in the book so this series of blog posts is intended to highlight some great resources you can go and look up yourself.

Our first stop is the City Library in New­cas­tle upon Tyne which we vis­it­ed for a cou­ple of pleas­ant ses­sions in June 2016. The top floor ref­er­ence col­lec­tion has a nice col­lec­tion of books on the region’s pubs, most packed with pho­tos and anec­dotes, like this from Bri­an Bennison’s Heavy Nights, pub­lished in 1997:

In Gos­forth High St the Coun­ty Hotel was owned by James Deuchar before [Scot­tish & New­cas­tle]. One sig­nif­i­cant change took place in 1975 when the sanc­ti­ty of the Gents’ Buf­fet was breached after what was thought to have been 140 years of ‘men only’. The day the Sex Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act came into force three female jour­nal­ists entered the Gents’ Buf­fet to push the boat out with an order of one glass of cider and two fruit juices. The land­lord told them, “You realise you’ve just made his­to­ry in here. It’s a sad day.”

The real star of the show, though, is a huge scrap­book of news­pa­per clip­pings and leaflets. Archivists right­ly protest when peo­ple claim to have ‘unearthed’ some­thing which they, the librar­i­ans, found, bound and cat­a­logued years ago, and this col­lec­tion is a great exam­ple of their work. It con­tains ear­ly Tyne­side CAMRA leaflets, for exam­ple – the kind of thing that most peo­ple threw away or lost when their guid­ance ceased to be use­ful but that some­one thought to keep and pre­serve.

Good Pub Guide c.1975

From the above, undat­ed but c.1975 we’d guess, it becomes clear how dom­i­nant Bass was in the region and that the Mitre at Ben­well (sec­ond on the list) and the Duke of Welling­ton in New­cas­tle city cen­tre were the most notable ‘beer exhi­bi­tion’ pubs.

The news cuts tell inter­est­ing sto­ries, too, such as the offence tak­en in the region in 1971 when analy­ses of beer strength under­tak­en by Durham Coun­ty Weights and Mea­sures Inspec­tors revealed that the North East’s beer was rather weak­er than pop­u­lar­ly imag­ined.

HEADLINE: "We're Weak Beer Snobs!"

This arti­cle also con­tains a table of the orig­i­nal grav­i­ty, ABV and price-per-pint of every beer sold in the region. (Which we think we’ve already shared with Ron Pat­tin­son…)

There’s a sto­ry from 1976 about a two-day CAMRA beer fes­ti­val in Durham with no less than fif­teen dif­fer­ent ales, but not Tet­ley, which refused to sup­ply the event because they feared the beer ‘would not be served prop­er­ly’. That’s fol­lowed by a review of the event by John North for the North­ern Echo:

There was a feller pro­fess­ing to be the Earl of Derby’s nephew, anoth­er who’d strug­gled there on crutch­es, and a third who car­ried round an emp­ty Cas­trol GTX can, pre­sum­ably in case he need­ed to take a few sam­ples home… The senior man at St Chad’s Col­lege arrived in knee-length shorts and near knee-length hair; the wife of a book­shop own­er in Sad­dler Street came in a Pick­wick­ian dress; a lot of men wore light blue CAMRA tee-shirts over tight brown bel­lies and a young lady had the pecu­liar mes­sage ‘Lub­by, lub­by, lub­by’ embla­zoned across her chest… In one cor­ner a beard­ed man sat engrossed in his Times cross­word, auto­mat­i­cal­ly reach­ing out every few sec­onds to grab his Hook Norton’s.

(An ear­ly man­i­fes­ta­tion of the bel­lies and beards stereo­type?)

One final item worth high­light­ing is the arrival in 1977 of Tsing-Tao at the Emper­or Restau­rant, run by Arthur King who came to New­cas­tle from Hong Kong as a child in the 1940s. The Jour­nal had great fun with the crazy idea of Geordies drink­ing beer from Chi­na and got a few locals to taste it, like 71-year-old pen­sion­er Albert Smith:

It’s very good: a soft, smooth tast­ing drink… But at 40p a bot­tle it’s too expen­sive for peo­ple like me to drink. And it’s a long way to take the bot­tle back.

Beyond the stuff specif­i­cal­ly relat­ing to beer and pubs there are also, for exam­ple, decades’ worth of issues of local soci­ety mag­a­zine New­cas­tle Life packed with ads for local pubs, clubs and brew­eries. (Main pic­ture, top.)

If you live in the North East and fan­cy learn­ing about your region’s beer his­to­ry, or if you’re in New­cas­tle as a beer tourist and need some­thing to do between your smashed avo­ca­do toast and the pub open­ing, do pop in and take a look at this fas­ci­nat­ing col­lec­tion.