Monday, August 16, 2010

The Greedy B*******ds Do It Again

As readers will have realised, the editors travel far and wide in search of beer and pubs to drink it in. We often travel outside Yorkshire to bring you updates from other parts of the country so it saddens me to write this article but feel I have no choice.

A little while ago, visitors to Salford were gladdened when Tim Flynn, from the New Oxford took over a closed pub and renovated it to a high standard with the intention of making it, The Black Lion, a sister pub to the Oxford with a range of different guest beers, more foreign choice and a good food range. The only problem being that, although the New Oxford was free of tie, the Black Lion wasn't and he had to run it under the umbrella of one of the larger pub groups. As it became successful, and made more money, the pub-co became greedier and wanted a bigger cut. Tim saw no other way that to cut and run, and the Black Lion closed. I know this is not unique, and many pubs have closed because of similar events, but surely a bit of give and take by the pub-co would have saved the Lion and we would not be mourning our loss.

Now I hear the same fate has befallen The Black Horse at Darwen. I don't suppose many readers will know the pub, and possibly will not care about somewhere in the depths of Lancashire, but let me explain why it has got under my, and many other people's, skin.

The Black Horse was another run down pub, just a back street local in a back street town (lets face it, who deliberately goes to Darwen?), until it was taken over a few years ago by an enterprising couple of blokes who saw some potential there. They built up its local trade and then gradually became more adventurous, for example organising beer and music festivals. Soon their festivals became 'must visit' events, attracting enthusiasts from all over. Even I have made the torturous trek across the hills. We were always treated to a superb festival with plenty of new beers, unusual breweries and the pub was well and truly on the map. The whole pub seemed to pull together to make the festivals happen, and the community spirit was self evident. The guys then set about brewing and soon the Graffiti brewery was up and running. More local employment, more choice for the locals and visitors alike.

Then things started to go wrong. The brewery closed, I do not know the reason, but I have my suspicions, and today I have read that the tenants have called it a day and left. Why? Well the greedy pub group has apparently hiked their rent up to an unsustainable level and consequently another landmark establishment has bitten the dust. It may well be that someone else will take the pub over, but no doubt it will be a smooth flow and lager joint, and the hard work that has been put in to save the place and bring the community together has been in vain. It's a sad day, not only for the drinkers of real ale and particularly the drinkers of Darwen, but for the drinking brotherhood as a whole.

And if it can happen there, it can happen here. In fact I can name several pubs that have closed, never to reopen in our local area, because the pub companies cannot see the wood for the trees, and demand their pound of flesh - very often two or three pounds in actuality. So let's support what we have, and be grateful that in our town we have many good pubs that are free of tie which are not only surviving but going from strength to strength. But let's also get behind the tied pubs too before they go the way of the Black Lion and Black Horse, and we are left to bemoan what we have lost.


Tandleman said...

What I can't understand is them failing to learn from experience. You put the rent up too much = people walk = pub closed and boarded = no income just expense. It isn't rocket science.

NAM said...

I'm gutted by the news about the Black Horse in particular. A great community boozer although I think things started to go astray when they stopped being the informal brewery tap for Hopstar.

NAM said...

Oh, and it didn't hep that the dozy council knocked down many of the nearby houses.