Friday, 19 June 2009

Off to Yorkshire

As the title says, I'm off to Yorkshire this morning. We have hired a cottage near Haworth for a week, so when I get back I will no doubt have many real-ale experiences to relate.
Last time I was in that part of the world, I found some excellent pubs and some great beer.
The more it rains, the better reason to sit in the pub!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Asda come home

There are many reasons why pubs fail. It's a very complex issue - it's not just down to the "credit crunch", or cheap supermarket boose, or poor management or even the greed of the big brewers.

One of the main factors in pub viability is (as quoted in the housing market) "location, location, location".

Since Asda moved it's supermarket across to another quarter of our town (South Shields) there has been a noticeable fall-off in custom at The Wouldhave, which for years has enjoyed a site adjacent to the old Asda store, which is now closed and deserted. The whole axis of the town has changed and shoppers no longer pass the pub on their way to the supermarket.

Yesterday, I was in The Wouldhave at lunch time and I counted only fourteen customers besides myself and my wife. There used to be many more than twice that number.

Asda can hardly be blamed, but it's a disaster for the pub.

Monday, 15 June 2009

The Great Rip-Off goes on

Since my son, Stonch, bought the lease of a pub in London, I have been idly considering whether to get into the business myself - after all, it could be a bit of an adventure (a late mid-life crisis?).
But I am appalled at the bum deals being offered by the big brewers who have a stranglehold on pub ownership in this benighted and too-docile country.
For instance, The Allison Arms, a pub well off the beaten track in Jarrow, where you'd have to work really hard to build up any kind of regular business, is being offered at over £18,000 for a 5-year occupancy. Not even a lease, mark you! And the mug who took this on would have to pay them rent for the premises, besides giving them a cut of the takings by being tied to buying their beer at their inflated prices!
But they are running out of mugs and all over the country, good pubs are closing down because of the big brewers' greed.
We are losing a precious aspect of our heritage. Can nothing be done to reverse the decline before it is too late?
It may be time for people to start petitioning the Government to begin issuing new licenses en masse, sanctioning a new wave of public houses, leaving the big brewers with dead assets on their hands.
That would fettle the greedy buggers.

Monday, 1 June 2009

The End of Rum 'n Egg Bars

I am reliably informed that these great institutions finally died out in the 1920s, when the shipbuilding industry hit its great slump.

The Naval Limitation Treaty had been signed by all major nations, severely cutting back on warship production and world trade was slowing down after the postwar boom, hence fewer merchant vessels were also being built.

A reader of mine, themaninthemoon, has sent in this wonderfully atmospheric photo of River Drive, near Readhead's Shipyard, where the Rum 'n Egg bar once served its early morning repast to the hurrying hordes.