In the pub, standing is part of the fun

In a really lively pub, not everyone is going to get a seat.

If you do get a seat, there’s no guar­an­tee you’ll have the table to your­self, or that some­one won’t end up stood over your shoul­der bump­ing you with their hip and yelling, laugh­ing or oth­er­wise exist­ing out loud.

We found our­selves think­ing about this as we worked our way around the pubs of Kel­ham Island in Sheffield on a busy Sat­ur­day night.

There, par­ties of peo­ple in smart Going Out Clothes seemed hap­py to stand about, cas­cad­ing into spaces between tables even where there had­n’t seemed to be spaces moments before, and crowd­ing the cor­ri­dors.

Can I just squeeze through there, pal?” Well, not real­ly, and yet some­how, yes, and all with­out touch­ing. (A British super­pow­er.)

If you’re mug enough to wear a coat, you’ve either to swel­ter, to hold it, hope to hang it, or throw it on the floor. The ten­den­cy to hit the town in shirt­sleeves makes sense in this con­text – cold between pubs, sure, but unen­cum­bered once you get there.

That’s not to say that peo­ple aren’t keep­ing an eye on the avail­abil­i­ty of seats. There’s a way of glanc­ing side­ways: how near is this lot to fin­ish­ing? How emp­ty are their glass­es? Is any­one mak­ing a move to buy anoth­er round, or have they start­ed pick­ing up coats and hand­bags? There are prime hov­er­ing spots, and sharp elbows are some­times unleashed: “Some peo­ple’ll jump in your bloody grave!”

One par­ty leaves (a gust of cold air, dead leaves across the car­pet) and anoth­er group comes in. The crowd flows flu­id to make way as hands reach over to lift pints from the bar, as scotch eggs are eat­en from plates bal­anced on the man­tel­piece, as gig­gling peo­ple sit on laps, or the arms of chairs.

These pubs are healthy. This pub cul­ture is healthy. Life is good.

And those love­ly, tran­quil pubs where you always get a seat? Per­haps wor­ry about them.

John Smith’s Modern Pubs in the North, 1967–69

This is another in our series of posts sharing photographs and details about post-war pubs from mouldering magazines. This time, it’s John Smith’s of Tadcaster and the magazine is The Magnet.

We’ve only got three edi­tions – we’d love more – but they’re packed with good stuff if, that is, your def­i­n­i­tion of good stuff is pro­files of plain-look­ing mod­ern pubs on hous­ing estates in places like Sheffield and Don­cast­er.

The Flarepath, Dunsville, South Yorkshire

Exterior of The Flarepath.

The head­line for this piece in The Mag­net is A ROYAL AIR FORCE PUB – The Flarepath, which opened in Novem­ber 1967, served RAF Lind­holme, near Don­cast­er.

The sign of The Flarepath.

The name refers to an illu­mi­nat­ed run­way used by bombers return­ing from night-raids over Ger­many dur­ing World War II. (Again, anoth­er won­der­ful name square­ly of its time.)

The Lindholme Lounge at The Flarepath.

The car­pet in the lounge was spe­cial­ly woven and fea­tured a Lan­cast­er bomber tak­ing off and the bars were dec­o­rat­ed with RAF squadron crests. There were pho­tographs of var­i­ous types of bomb, again from the Impe­r­i­al War Muse­um archive, on the walls.

Mr & Mrs Varley.

Its first man­agers were Joyce Var­ley and her hus­band Arthur, late of the Mag­net Hotel, Bent­ley.

Is it still there? Yes, with John Smith’s sig­nage out­side, too.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “John Smith’s Mod­ern Pubs in the North, 1967–69”

Tetley’s Post War ‘Estate’ Pubs in The North

We’ve just acquired a couple of editions of Tetley’s in-house magazine from the 1960s and thought we’d share some pictures of the then state-of-the-art modern pubs featured.

We usu­al­ly scan these things and effec­tive­ly thrown them away on Twit­ter but thought that we ought to put them some­where a bit more per­ma­nent in case they’re inter­est­ing or use­ful for oth­er researchers, or just for the enjoy­ment of peo­ple who might recall the pubs in ques­tion as they were in their hey­day.

The first batch of pho­tos are from The Hunts­man for Autumn 1964. This pic­ture is on the front cov­er:

The Cup & Ring (exterior).

Explana­to­ry text inside says: ‘The Cup & Ring, the new opened Tet­ley house on the edge of the moors by Bail­don. It is almost cer­tain­ly the only pub­lic house in the coun­try with this name – tak­en from the cup and ring mark­ings carved by Ear­ly Bronze Age peo­ple on cer­tain stones of Bail­don Moor.’ Today the pub is – obvi­ous­ly, of course, it goes with­out say­ing – gone.

The Earl Francis, Park Hill, Sheffield -- exterior.

Next up is The Earl Fran­cis at Park Hill in Sheffield of which the mag­a­zine says:

[The] third Tet­ley ‘pub’ in the vast com­pre­hen­sive area of Cor­po­ra­tion flats which will ulti­mate­ly house 10,000 peo­ple, was named as a reminder of the local his­tor­i­cal asso­ci­a­tion with the Shrews­bury fam­i­ly… The first two of these three Tet­ley hous­es were each an inte­gral part of the ground floor of the block of flats in which they were sit­u­at­ed. The Earl Fran­cis dif­fers in that it is a sep­a­rate build­ing. To ensure har­mo­ny with its back­ground of flats the shell was built by the Cor­po­ra­tion; but the main entrance and canopy, the inter­nal plan­ning and struc­ture, and all fix­tures and fit­tings were dealt with by The Com­pa­ny.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Tetley’s Post War ‘Estate’ Pubs in The North”

News, Nuggets & Longreads 14 January 2017: Spain, Sheffield and Sober Island

There’s been plenty of good reading this week from intelligence on the latest AB-InBev manoeuvring  to memories of 1970s Sheffield via a Sober Island.

First, the news head­lines: AB-InBev have tak­en over Span­ish brew­ery Cervezas La Vir­gen, as report­ed by Joan Vil­lar-i-Martí at Bir­raire:

A rather pecu­liar move, in my opin­ion, if we com­pare it to the Bel­gian brew­ing giant’s recent oper­a­tions, espe­cial­ly in Europe… La Vir­gen was born as a prod­uct designed for the Madrid mar­ket, and until a year ago it was basi­cal­ly focused on it. As a com­pa­ny, it has nev­er quite been in the cir­cles of the nation­al craft move­ment, appear­ing in few fes­ti­vals and with­out a sig­nif­i­cant pres­ence in spe­cialised bars. On the con­trary, it has suc­cess­ful­ly pen­e­trat­ed the mar­ket with a craft-labelled prod­uct that deliv­ers a sim­i­lar expe­ri­ence to the ‘usu­al’ beers.


Fishing boats on Sober Island.
‘Sober Island’ By Den­nis Jarvis from Flickr under Cre­ative Com­mons.

For Mel mag­a­zine Angela Chapin gives an account of the dis­pute over the name and loca­tion of Sober Island brew­ery, which is not cur­rent­ly brew­ing on Sober Island, Nova Sco­tia, Cana­da, as the name might sug­gest:

One of the locals most excit­ed about her plan was [Rebec­ca Atkin­son’s] friend Trevor Munroe. He and his wife run an oys­ter farm on Sober Island, and the 43-year-old thought the brew­ery would be great for the com­mu­ni­ty. Not to men­tion, it was to be a mutu­al­ly ben­e­fi­cial rela­tion­ship: Munroe want­ed to help Atkin­son find land; she want­ed to use his oys­ters in her beer. Bet­ter yet, they planned to team up to attract tourists to the island with tours that would end with cold beer and fresh oys­ters… But the rela­tion­ship began to sour when Atkin­son delayed the con­struc­tion of the brew­ery and start­ed brew­ing beer at her mom’s place instead.

The sto­ry high­lights all kinds of issues around prove­nance, mar­ket­ing, and the mean­ing of local – is Atkin­son exploit­ing the island’s quirky name or is she sin­cere in her stat­ed intent to even­tu­al­ly move pro­duc­tion there?

(Via @PivniFilosof.)

Con­tin­ue read­ing “News, Nuggets & Lon­greads 14 Jan­u­ary 2017: Spain, Sheffield and Sober Island”

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”