Thursday, 15 July 2021

A welcome to all ages

The trade are often keen to make the point that pubs act as a community hub for a wide cross-section of society and are far more than just commercial businesses. There could be no better illustration of this than this heartwarming story from the Manchester Evening News of 93-year old Gordon Williams, who visits the Cart and Horses at Astley near Leigh four afternoons a week, and has been using the pub for 75 years.
Gordon, a former miner, will visit the Wigan pub four afternoons a week and sticks to his classic order of two pints of Joseph Holt Black.

“I don’t understand why more people of my age don't go to the pub,” Gordon says. “It's so sociable, you never need to be lonely. And, of course, the beer is wonderful.”

And he’s right. There is a lot of congeniality and sense of belonging to be found in pubs even if you’re just exchanging a few inconsequential words with other customers.

However, a key point here is that he is able to visit the pub in the afternoon. Pensioners in general much prefer going out in the daytime, and tend to avoid the evenings, especially after it gets dark. Yet nowadays more and more pubs, especially community locals, do not open at lunchtimes during the week. Of course no pub is under any obligation to open when they don’t regard it as profitable, but by staying closed they forfeit any claim to be accommodating the older generation.

But it’s not enough just to be able to get in the pub. People like Gordon want somewhere comfortable to sit rather than having to clamber on to a high stool at a posing table. They don’t want to be hassled if they spend an hour occupying a table while nursing a pint. They expect someone will have a friendly word for them rather than being isolated amongst a sea of self-absorbed dining groups. And, of course, if the pub has already closed down during the carnage of the last couple of decades, it won’t be able to offer a welcome to anyone.

I’ve never been there personally, but it sounds as though the Cart and Horses does an excellent job of meeting all these requirements. But, while the hospitality industry may boast of fulfilling a wider social function, it has to be said that many of the establishments it represents fall a long way short.

The Cart and Horses itself has an interesting history. It has been owned by Joseph Holt throughout its life, and celebrated its centenary last year. But it was in fact a former private residence called Farnworth Lodge that was converted to a pub when Holt’s closed and demolished their former pub of the same name across the road.

13 comments:

  1. Excellent. Well done the Cart and Horses. It does provide an important role in helping combat loneliness for so many elderly people.

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  2. Lovely to see a beautiful pint of mild !

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    1. I ought to point out it's keg mild, which may offend some purists ;-)

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    2. If it's something you like the format doesn't matter.

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  3. Several years ago when the (Name Withheld) was a proper pub there was an old gent name Tony who came in every evening for two pints. a gossip and a game of dominos. When he didn't turn up one evening a group of the locals went to his nearby house and found him collapsed on the floor. Prompt action saved his life. That epitomises "community"
    (Name Withheld) is no a very profitable dining pub aimed at a young clientele

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  4. That's a wonderful story, much better than reading about coronavirus or how we are all racists. Holts's Black is a nice beer but I wouldn't call it mild - it's a light stout I'd say.

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    1. Professor Pie-Tin19 July 2021 at 15:26

      Here in Ireland there have been six weeks of the media calling the English racists and xenephobes.
      It happens every time there's a football tournament the Irish don't qualify for which as you can imagine is quite a lot.
      Even today a week after the Euros final they're still at it.
      A nation overwhelmed by a massive inferiority complex.

      www.irishexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/arid-40338992.html

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  5. Nothing wrong with nursing a pint for a while, pubs need to be grateful for the trade, well done to The Cart & Horses. Obviously a decent boozer if he's been that frequently over the years.

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  6. The Cart and Horses was where I had my first pint as Greater Manchester resident. We lived for a while in Astley. Nearly a year I think. I remember my pint was 66p.

    Went there a lot and was once challenged to a fight when I went in wearing a suit with a green tie. Having just moved from Liverpool 7, I faced them down and they left it as they thought I was a coo.Still went in and never saw them again.Mr Donning of this parish often accompanied me. Don't remember the old lad though. Happy days. Nearby Tyldesly was a real eye opener. Rough as arseholes.

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  7. The Cart & Horses is a gorgeous Holt pub, and the GBG entry annually said "take your camera".

    As you and I often note, the pub is one of the very few places you can be social, something that table service limits by reducing interaction at the bar.

    The death of afternoon pub opening continues; on Tuesday in Kendal I found NONE of the six GBG entries open at 3pm.

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    1. And presumably none had been open earlier at lunchtime?

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  8. Its not worth their while opening at lunchtime these days. How many people want to start boozing at dinnertime? Not many. The clientele would probably consist of one or two old soaks and a couple of oldsters who would spend two hours nursing a pint. Spoons can scoop that sort of custom up.

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