There’s a poignant article by Andy Sullivan (warning: very large .pdf file) in the latest edition of the local CAMRA magazine Opening Times under the title “The Hat Goes Forth”, about the decline of the pub trade in Denton and Audenshaw in Tameside to the east of Manchester. To read the full piece, turn to Page 19 of the .pdf, but the first couple of paragraphs really say it all:
It has to be said that Denton and Audenshaw do not immediately spring to mind when it comes to thinking about a destination for a beer or two. But I live here and have done for long enough to remember the Thursday, Friday and Saturday night wanders. Each of these evenings saw groups and couples of all ages starting in one pub, let's say the Cottage on Hyde Road, and by one route or another ending it in the Red Lion at Crown Point perhaps. There were the “all nighters” and the “last hour” people and their routines were pretty much a fixture.Sadly, that is all too typical of working-class, industrial urban areas the length and breadth of the country. Now, I wonder what could have made a big contribution to such a decline “recently”. Any ideas?
Sadly those days are gone and I find the streets deserted of those mostly easy going folk, who often knew each other, passing the time of the night so to speak and the easy unthreatening atmosphere. Yes of course there were young men who got into fights, indeed sought them out, but it never seemed to spill over much and it was always fists and often handbags anyway. So it has to be said most of my supping goes on at tea time, which has kind of evolved over time and has a lot more to do with personal circumstances than the shift away from the pub culture of old.
This story is in common with many a town and familiar I guess to a lot of people so I won't belabour it too much, but it does go some way to emphasise the decline of the local pub trade, which appears to have reached catastrophic conditions and in particular recently here in Denton and Audenshaw.