Wednesday 18 February 2015

Victory salutations

Congratulations to the Salutation Inn at Ham in Gloucestershire for winning CAMRA’s National Pub of the Year Award for 2015. As the article says:
Judges, who included Camra volunteers, hailed the friendly atmosphere and simple characteristics of “the definitive country alehouse”. It offers customers five real ales, eight real ciders, traditional pub games such as skittles and an unfussy lunchtime menu that includes ham rolls, made from from the pub’s own pigs.
Sounds right up my street. The skittle alley at the rear is an increasingly rare feature. It’s situated in a village rather off the main tourist track just south of the small town of Berkeley, in whose castle King Edward II was reputedly murdered in 1327 by having a red-hot poker shoved up his backside.

I actually visited the pub in the Autumn of 2008 and have to say that my feeling then was that it was pleasant enough, but nothing special, and I was disappointed by the very limited food offering. However, I suspect it’s one of those places that grows on you with familiarity, and the article suggests that the current owners, who have been there for a couple of years, have significantly upped its game.

As with last year’s winner, the Swan with Two Necks at Pendleton in Lancashire, there have been grumbles that it represents an old-fashioned, fuddy-duddy view of the ideal pub and fails to reflect the burgeoning, cutting-edge urban craft beer scene. However, as I said then, I would regard it as a positive step that they have chosen a pub with a broad appeal to the general public rather than a narrowly-focused beer bar, whether alehouse or craft emporium. The other three finalists were all definitely pubs, and none in city centres. Possibly the expectation that entries should demonstrate community involvement and a varied cross-section of clientele told against some of the more specialist venues.


  1. In The Casual Vacancy the other night, after the junkie's daughter had confronted the local dealer in knockoff TVs in a grim 70s estate pub, she went out the back to grass him up to the police using a payphone... in the pub's skittle alley! Looks like they're commoner than you think (in more ways than one, ho ho).

  2. West Kent CAMRA Pub of the Year, the Windmill at Sevenoaks Weald, was one of the four pubs which made it into the national finals for this competition. It too could be described as “representing an old-fashioned, fuddy-duddy view of the ideal pub”, but if so, it is none the worse for that.

    Congratulations to this year’s winner, the Salutation Inn, at Ham. I am not familiar with the part of Gloucestershire where the pub is situated, but if I do happen to pass that way I will make a point of calling in.

    Yes, poor old King Edward II was reputedly murdered, just up the road, in a particularly nasty way. I understand the intention behind this particularly gruesome method of despatch, was not to leave a visible mark on his body; poor chap!

  3. @Phil - that part of the country is the great stronghold of the skittle alley, but I get the impression that, like pub bowling greens around here, they're becoming increasingly rare. If this was a contemporary drama then surely using a payphone was a bit of an anachronism.

    @Paul - did you spot you had been mentioned in despatches by Boak & Bailey today?

  4. Yes Phil, I did, and I'm suitably honoured!

  5. Forgot to add that I saw you were mentioned as well!

  6. Martin, Cambridge18 February 2015 at 22:13

    I think it was it's turn to win, having missed out a few years ago. I was there last year and had a very good Butcombe in a friendly pub, without it making the sort of impression that say, the Cross Keys near Halifax and the afore-mentioned Windmill did recently.

    Most national POTYs seem to meet your description, though the Baum and even the Nursery bucked the trend.

  7. It always amuses me when Ray Bailey does the old "no relation" thing (Paul has been name checked before in a similar way). Well he wouldn't be would he as Ray's real name isn't Bailey.

  8. Looking back through previous winners, most don't seem to be the archetypal twelve-handpump pubs, although the fact that both the Fat Cat and the Kelham Island Tavern won it twice may have distorted people's perceptions.

  9. Love it! all beard pubs should have Morris dancing. fancy coming to the AGM with me to propose a motion that morris dancing is required for all beard awards?

  10. I was one who said it adheres to a certain template of pub but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'd like the pub too I suspect.

    Just pointed out that CAMRA is missing a trick by not having another award for something slightly more modern. Wouldn't hurt would it to have "Bar of the year"?

  11. Professor Pie-Tin20 February 2015 at 17:11

    A little bit of the back story from the Torygraph.

    I have to say old-fashioned and fuddy-duddy are music to my ears when it comes to in country pubs wher,natch,there should be no music to my ears but just Radio Four.
    A pint of foaming ale and the Shipping Forecast read by Charlotte Green is nearly as good as sex.

  12. Are you lot actively promoting a fuddy-duddy image of CAMRA? ;-)


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