As a beer drinker and pub goer of 50 years standing, I have become concerned in recent years about the demise of the traditional British pub and the reasons why.
What is happening to the good old traditional British pub? In the small town where I live, we’re in danger of losing yet another of our locals, which will leave us with a total of seven – down from 11 only a few years ago.
Those that are left are clearly struggling and most don’t open at lunchtime due to lack of trade.
There are hundreds of similar small towns and villages throughout the country with a similar profile, all having the same problem. Over the last 30 years or so, organisations such as CAMRA have done a wonderful job in increasing the choice and availability of good-tasting (when kept well) real ales and reversing the trend towards bland, beers and lagers, as well as fighting to retain ‘real’ pubs, but worryingly that fight now seems to be becoming a losing battle.
So why is it happening? It’s easy to blame the usual suspects, such as drink driving legislation, high taxation, health lobbyists, changing social habits, alternative forms of entertainment. It also seems far easier and cheaper, just to buy your booze as part of your weekly supermarket shopping and drink at home while watching TV.
It would appear that current pricing policy, whether it be caused by over-zealous taxation by government, greedy breweries and pubcos charging tenants extortionate rents or licencee overpricing to cover overheads is certainly a factor in keeping us out.
One welcome trend which has become very popular in recent years is the opening up of so-called ‘micro-pubs’. These establishments offer all of the positive attributes of the thriving, traditional pub and it is somewhat ironic that such outlets are cropping up to replace the pubs further down the road which have closed. The traditional British pub is in decline and like the NHS, needs to be cherished and supported. Just for once, ignore that bottle of beer in the fridge, stop worrying about exceeding your units and pay your local a visit.
Do it quickly though, before it closes – possibly forever.