Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Pubs can still work

The prolonged holiday between Christmas and New Year always seems to tempt a few people out to visit pubs who might not normally do so, and produces some encouraging scenes of pubs doing a good trade. One was in a well-known pub on the edge of the Stockport built-up area, which had been ticking over nicely at lunchtime, and where it was good to see at about 1.45 pm a party of five youngish people come in, settle themselves around a table near the fire and enquire whether food was still being served (it was). Not a pint between them, and no cask beer either, but even so it was a new generation rediscovering what pubs are about.

I also called in Sam Smiths’ Boar’s Head on Stockport Market Place, where the experience was a carbon copy of two years ago. Absolutely heaving, with hardly a seat to be had, the clientele still predominantly male, working class and over 40. It’s rare now to see a pub with so many pint glasses on tables. The day being a bank holiday, I don’t think they were serving any food either. Of course, Old Brewery Bitter at £1.43 a pint does help, but its success is down to far more than just cheap beer.

But, on the other hand, I went in a Good Beer Guide listed pub, to my eye a very pleasant, cosy establishment with a real fire, less than five miles from the centre of a big town, and I was the only customer at one o’clock. No doubt some will say “it’s not a lunchtime type of pub”, but who ever said that twenty years ago, and back then I’m sure there would have been a good buzz of custom.


  1. I've not been in a 'heaving 'pub for years. Last night I went out and visited 3 pubs, about 12 people in total. Often I'm the only person in some pubs and even then I have to wait for a pint!
    I think 2011 will see the demise of hundreds of more pubs as I'm afraid the only saviour in my neck of the woods would be a relaxing of the smoking ban and I don't believe in fairy's.

  2. I don't dispute the point that the general trade of pubs has greatly declined, and the smoking ban has been a significant factor.

    But I have just returned from a pub - the Plough on Heaton Moor, Stockport - that was standing room only from 8 pm to closing time.

    And if you went in the Boar's Head in Stockport on any Saturday at around 3 pm, it would be similar.

    It may not happen as often as it once did, but it still does sometimes.


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