Post-War Estate Pubs 1951–1954

As promised, we’re scanning and sharing pictures from the various magazines and books we’ve picked up over the years. This particular set tells a bit of a story.

Dur­ing and after World War II, until 1954, there were strict build­ing reg­u­la­tions – you could­n’t just build a pub when there was a des­per­ate need for hous­es, schools, shops and so on. But that does­n’t mean there weren’t any pubs built at all. Rather, each case had to be debat­ed with local author­i­ties and cen­tral gov­ern­ment min­istries to prove there was a real need.

What you’ll notice about these pubs built imme­di­ate­ly post-war is that they look very like those being built a decade ear­li­er dur­ing the hey-day of the Improved Pub­lic House. (One rea­son why guess­ing the date of a pub isn’t always as easy as it should be.) That’s part­ly because ‘big­ger but bet­ter’ remained the pre­vail­ing phi­los­o­phy of pub design (Basil Oliv­er’s book was most­ly writ­ten pre-war but only pub­lished after­wards) but also in some cas­es because plans had been drawn up and then put on ice.

The Balloon Hotel, Wollaton, Nottinghamshire

1930s style pub with straight lines.

The Bal­loon Hotel was designed by W.B. Starr of local firm Hall & Clif­ford and built in 1951 for Ten­nant Broth­ers of Sheffield. It looks, to us, very 1930s, not least in terms of its scale. We haven’t been able to find much spe­cif­ic infor­ma­tion oth­er than that its name was even­tu­al­ly changed to The Wol­la­ton Arms and it is now gone.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Post-War Estate Pubs 1951–1954”

News, Nuggets & Longreads 26 November 2016

Because we’re both on our travels this is a scheduled post with urgent updates, if any, made on fiddly touchscreens.

First, some gor­geous pic­tures from Invis­i­ble Works whose author, Nick Stone, acquired a big sack of found pho­tographs of Nor­wich and has been shar­ing them in a series of posts. We, of course, had our atten­tion grabbed by a col­lec­tion of images of pubs, like this one:

Duke's Palace Inn, Norwich.

(Via @teninchwheels.)


Wooden beer casks.

Gary Gill­man has been pon­der­ing a lost taste in beer – that of ‘pitch’:

Ger­mans in par­tic­u­lar coat­ed the inte­ri­or of casks with hot pitch, the resin extract­ed from the sap of pine and oth­er fir trees. George Ehret, the promi­nent New York brew­er who in 1891 wrote a his­to­ry of Amer­i­can brew­ing, described two pur­pos­es for the pitch­ing. The first was to ensure prop­er clean­ing of the cask before reuse. The sec­ond was to avoid the “taste of the wood”. The clean­ing ref­er­ence is com­pressed. He meant, as oth­er writ­ers made clear, that beer was more like­ly to sour from micro-organ­isms in the wood unless the bar­ri­er of pitch min­i­mized this risk.

The log­i­cal con­clu­sion of this thought? The revival of pitched lager!


Old photos: the kidnapper and Mr Hamm, the victim.

For the Growler mag­a­zine Ben Reeves tells the sto­ry of the kid­nap­ping of a brew­ery boss in St Paul, Min­neso­ta, in 1933:

Once in a safe house in Bensenville, Illi­nois, Hamm was placed in a sparse­ly fur­nished room with board­ed win­dows and forced to sign four sep­a­rate ran­som notes demand­ing $100,000. With­in days, Hamm would be returned safe­ly home with­out a scratch on his head, and the men respon­si­ble for his kidnapping—better known as the Bark­er-Karpis gang—would be padding their wal­lets. It seemed like the per­fect crime; lit­tle did the Bark­er-Karpis gang know that they had just det­o­nat­ed a soci­etal bomb that would end their out­law careers and com­plete­ly reshape Minnesota’s legal sys­tem.

The basis for sea­son 4 of Far­go, with a Miller’s Cross­ing feel, per­haps?


Hat, pipe and pint glass.

On his 39th birth­day Alec Lath­am returns to a pre­oc­cu­pa­tion of his: does he belong with the craft beer young guns, or among the growl­ing vet­er­ans in the real ale pub?

With mature pub-goers, I under­stand every­thing they say but might miss his­toric cul­tur­al ref­er­ences. With pub-goers of my age, I get the vibe but haven’t got a clue what anybody’s job title means. With some younger drinkers, I might under­stand the words indi­vid­u­al­ly but not when they’re strung togeth­er.


The Fellowship Inn, Bellingham: pool table and dereliction.

Dirty South’, one of the authors of the Desert­er blog, toured all parts of South Lon­don with only one pub:

The epit­o­me of a one horse town, Belling­ham has very lit­tle to offer the vis­i­tor oth­er than its run-down, but Grade II-list­ed pub, The Fel­low­ship… Only one of its bars is open and in between serv­ing the sparse cus­tomers, the bar­maid returns to the com­fort of the gas fire on our side of the bar. The pub has received a lot­tery grant though to restore it to its for­mer glo­ry – and it’s no exag­ger­a­tion to talk of ‘glo­ry’.


Beer and Twitter

And, final­ly, some­thing a bit new: a link to a Twit­ter ‘thread’. If you’ve been fol­low­ing pol­i­tics on Twit­ter for the last year, you’ll have seen a lot of these – blog posts, in effect, split up into 10, 20, 30 or more (usu­al­ly) num­bered Tweets. It’s a weird way to digest what amounts to an arti­cle but, as the author of this one says, ‘Where the eye­balls are, innit?’ This is where it starts – click the date to go through to Twit­ter and read the whole thing:

A Brief History of Beer Weeks

It’s Sheffield Beer Week this week (14–22 March) which got us thinking about beer weeks in general – where did they come from, what are they for, and where are they going?

In the UK arguably the orig­i­nal beer week is Nor­wich City of Ale, which first took place in May 2011. It involves mini-fes­ti­vals in pubs across the city fea­tur­ing brew­eries from the region, and spe­cial events designed to cre­ate a buzz such as tasters of beer being giv­en out in the street. It was the brain-child of lec­tur­er Dawn Leed­er and pub­li­can Phil Cut­ter, AKA ‘Mur­der­ers Phil’. As Dawn Leed­er recalls there was no par­tic­u­lar inspi­ra­tion except per­haps, oblique­ly, Munich’s Okto­ber­fest. Its launch was cov­ered by an enthu­si­as­tic Roger Protz in this arti­cle for Beer Pages which con­cludes with a call to action:

It’s an ini­tia­tive that could and should be tak­en up oth­er towns and cities in Britain with a good range of pubs, craft brew­eries and a pub­lic trans­port net­work. Not­ting­ham and Sheffield, with their tram sys­tems, spring to mind.

Red Routemaster bus with Norwich City of Ale livery.
Nor­wich City of Ale pro­mo­tion­al bus, 2013. SOURCE: Nor­wich City of Ale web­site.

Glas­gow’s beer week first ran in 2011. It was inspired equal­ly by US beer weeks and by the Glas­gow Beer and Pub Project organ­ised by Eric Steen in 2010, a six-week arts and cul­ture event which cul­mi­nat­ed with a home-brew­ing event in a pop-up pub. Glas­gow Beer Week co-organ­is­er Rob­bie Pick­er­ing recalls some of the dif­fi­cul­ties faced by ama­teur vol­un­teers:

We had our dis­as­ters, like the time we man­aged to sched­ule a meet-the-brew­er in a pub where a live band was play­ing on the same night. I am very lucky that brew­er still speaks to me. I am still proud of some of the events we put on even if hard­ly any­one came to them. We did the first beer and cheese tast­ing in Glas­gow and the first UK screen­ing of the US Michael Jack­son doc­u­men­tary, and got Ron Pat­tin­son over to speak about British lager togeth­er with peo­ple from the Scot­tish Brew­ing Archive Asso­ci­a­tion. And I have a lifetime’s sup­ply of beau­ti­ful let­ter­press beer mats with a spelling error.

It ran for three years the last being in 2013:

I think GBW col­lapsed in the end because of lack of inter­est. After the first year most of the oth­er peo­ple involved had moved away and I was left run­ning around on my own… I announced the dates for 2014 before decid­ing not to go ahead with it. Nobody ever asked what had hap­pened to it which kind of sug­gests it was the right deci­sion.

From our dis­tant van­tage point it also seemed to bring to a head ten­sions in Glas­gow’s beer com­mu­ni­ty with expres­sions of ill-feel­ing still being expressed via social media three years lat­er.

Rob­bie Pick­er­ing sees some pos­i­tives in it, how­ev­er: the kinds of events that the Beer Week was built around now occur organ­i­cal­ly and fre­quent­ly in Glas­gow negat­ing the need for a spe­cial event.

In 2012, the Cam­paign for Real Ale (CAMRA) ran a Lon­don City of Beer cel­e­bra­tion pig­gy­back­ing on the surge in vis­i­tors to the cap­i­tal dur­ing the Olympic Games. But it was two months long, not a week, and did­n’t turn into an annu­al event.

The next British city to get a beer week prop­er was Bris­tol. It launched in Octo­ber 2013 when, hav­ing bub­bled under as a beer des­ti­na­tion for a few years before­hand, the city was just on the cusp of a boom in spe­cial­ist bars and brew­eries. The ini­tial idea came from Lee Williams who was born in Bris­tol but lived in the US for ten years where he ran a blog, Hop­topia, and wrote a guide­book called Beer Lover’s Col­orado. When he returned to Bris­tol to work in the beer indus­try he brought with him expe­ri­ence of sev­er­al US beer weeks and sug­gest­ed the idea of run­ning some­thing sim­i­lar to a friend and fel­low beer blog­ger, Stephen Pow­ell.

Bris­tol Beer Week fea­tured more mini-fes­ti­vals, talks, tast­ings and spe­cial one-off beers brewed in col­lab­o­ra­tion with beer writ­ers who duly plugged the event.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “A Brief His­to­ry of Beer Weeks”

Non-Craft Sub-Brand

In a weird inversion of the usual arrangement, a self-consciously-‘craft’ brewery has just launched a retro ‘real ale’ sub-brand. Well, sort of.

If you’ve read Christo­pher Hut­t’s 1973 book The Death of the Eng­lish Pub then you’ll know the sto­ry of Bullard’s of Nor­wich: along with the city’s oth­er brew­ery, Stew­ard & Pat­te­son, it was tak­en over by Wat­ney’s in 1963, and both brew­eries’ own bit­ters were replaced by a gener­ic Nor­wich Bit­ter. Then, in 1968, Bullard’s brew­ery was closed down.

Near­ly 50 years on, Red­well (per­haps best known for its dis­pute with Cam­den over the trade­mark ‘Hells’) has acquired the rights to the Bullard’s brand and revived it for a line of cask ales designed, in part, to appeal to those who have fond and lin­ger­ing mem­o­ries of the old brew­ery.

Red­well isn’t brew­ing on the old Bullard’s site, or using the orig­i­nal brand­ing and, unlike oth­er revived brands (Joule’s, Phipps, Tru­man’s) there has been no attempt made to recre­ate his­toric recipes, or even to ‘take inspi­ra­tion’ from them. Bullard’s old yeast strain has­n’t been brought out of retire­ment, either, so, there’s real­ly not much of the orig­i­nal brew­ery here beyond the name.

And here’s why we said ‘sort of’ in our intro­duc­tion: the pack­ag­ing still uses the C‑word – ‘Craft Beers Brewed in Nor­wich’ – and the first prod­ucts on offer are East Coast Pale Ale, ‘brewed with new world hops’, and a ‘hop bomb of an IPA’.

This isn’t, there­fore, the per­fect irony we’ve been wait­ing for – a trendy craft brew­ery aping the look of, say, Shep­herd Neame, in order to mar­ket cask mild and best bit­ter on the sly – but it’s still, we think, an inter­est­ing devel­op­ment.

For more details, and some spiky local reac­tions, check out this sub­stan­tial piece on the launch in the East­ern Dai­ly Press.