Saturday, 15 September 2012

Bollocks at the bar

Pubs are well known to be frequented by people keen to impart all kinds of highly questionable information as gospel truth, and one of their favourite subjects is that of pubs and beer themselves. More than once, I’ve been assured by some dodgy character at the bar that he was one of the four founding fathers of CAMRA, even though I was damn sure he really wasn’t.

I was recently in a pub in Winchester and noticed that the metal section of a set of handpumps revealed when the handle was pulled bore the name of Marston’s. So, in the way of conversation, I pointed this out and asked whether the pub had once belonged to them. Oh yes, I was told, and Marston’s had continued brewing in the city until maybe around 1990. Indeed, the guy at the bar had clear recollections of the brewery in operation.

Now, I thought this was very doubtful, but without having the facts to hand didn’t want to kick off a debate. In fact, when I looked it up in that estimable book Where Have All the Breweries Gone?, I found that Marston’s had taken over the Winchester Brewery Company, with its 108 pubs, as early as 1923, and closed the brewery down in 1927, although the site continued as a bottling plant until 1969. So, as I suspected, he was talking utter bollocks.

Of course, even if you’re sure of your ground, it’s generally best just to nod sagely and exit the conversation rather than trying to argue the toss.

Interestingly, Marston’s, when they were still an independent company, sold off their pubs in the Winchester area to Greene King in 1999 as they felt they were outside their core trading area. I suspect that is a decision that the new, quasi-national merged company bearing their name (although in reality the successor to Wolverhampton & Dudley) now have cause to regret.

1 comment:

  1. Ah. The pub nuisance. They come in all shapes and sizes.

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