OTLEY PUB CLUB: JANUARY MEETING
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Well, festivities come and go, but the work of Otley Pub Club just keeps going right through them. On New Year’s Eve the Chairman and Secretary walked round the planned route for one of our walks in the 2017 Otley Walking Festival. There won’t be another ‘Road to Marston Moor’ Civil War battle re-enactment this year, but we aim to keep the Marston Moor connection alive by having a guided walk in its memory. It will start outside Fairfax Hall in Menston, [still a private residence] where it is believed that Oliver Cromwell stayed before the battle. There he discussed tactics with Charles Fairfax and his uncle Thomas, one of the leading generals at Marston Moor who was to become the Commander-in-Chief of the New Model Army the following year. The route back to Otley will be over the top of the Chevin, [where Cromwell’s personal troops might have camped to avoid a surprise attack in the valley bottom], pausing for a refreshment break in or near the rather inaptly named pub ‘The Royalty’!
From there it will be all downhill back into Otley, where we will visit the Parish Church to see the memorial mural to Charles Fairfax and his wife Mary, who are buried in the Church, and hear about the sermons preached in the summer of 1942, just before the start of the Civil War. A book of extensive notes on those sermons was apparently found among the manuscripts of Charles Fairfax – beginning on the day when Charles 1st entered York, Saturday March 17th 1642 (to a less than favourable welcome) and ending on July 31st of the same year. The work was probably produced for a member of the Fairfax household and for a specific purpose, and has b
een described as a tactical instrument of political policy. [Copied from the Otley Parish Church page in the Churches Together in Otley section of the Visit Otley website.]
I’ll be adding more details about this walk in the coming months, and we’re hoping it will take place on the second Saturday of the 2017 Otley Walking Festival – July 1st. [The Battle of Marston Moor took place on July the 2nd, 1644]. I’ll also be telling you about another Otley Pub Club walk that we’re hoping to include in the Festival – The ‘Four Pubs’ walk – which we hope will be on the first Saturday of the Festival – June 24th. You can keep up to date with Walking Festival news throughout the year on their website – http://www.otleywalkingfestival.co.uk/
And just a quick word on my New Year resolution. In 2017 I won’t drink any beer that isn’t named after me. [Although I’m not sure whether there’s a limit on Deed Poll applications!]
DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE
We do mention this from time to time, and it’s a deadly serious issue, but throughout December we tried something a bit different. Every day [well, just about every day] we tweeted a pun about drinking, associated with the hashtags #dontdrinkanddrive and #X84 to promote the use of public transport in and out of Otley. And if you think the following examples are toe-curlingly embarrassing, it’s your own fault – I did ask for suggestions to make them better!
“If you’ve de’cider’ed to get drunk tonight, let it end apple-y!”
“If you’re drinking snowballs, I ‘advocaat’ taking the bus home”
“Too much wine this weekend? ‘Sauterne’ towards the bus stop!”
“Been on the spirits tonight? Let the bus ‘whisky’ you away!”
Yep, you get the picture – heed the Warninks! – and I hope you all enjoyed yourself, but stayed safe!
HELP PROMOTE OTLEY TOURISM
If you’ve seen the December Update from Otley BID, you’ll know that a marketing and communications agency called ‘All About the Story’, who are based in Menston, have been tasked by Otley Town Council, Otley BID, Otley Town Partnership and the Chamber of Trade to help promote tourism and visitor engagement in our town. Directors Lyndsey Thomas and James Ellis want to get Otley businesses involved in the public relations and communications output and need your help to develop Otley’s stories and share your news so they can take it to the local, regional and in some cases, national media. Hopefully that will result in increased media coverage promoting Otley as a great place to spend a day or longer and ultimately driving more visitors to the town. They say they want any story ideas and news sent to email@example.com. So I’m taking them at their word and adding them to my membership mailing list, and if there’s ever anything you think would be worth advertising to a wider audience to promote tourism in Otley, please send it to them [and me!]
PUBCOs & DRINKS GIANTS JUST CAN’T WIN
HEINEKEN and PUNCH TAVERNS
There was a time when Punch Taverns seemed to own every second pub in the country, if you were to believe the news stories about them. These stories were often critical, and Otley Pub Club might have been known to have the odd word to say about them now and then. Many of the complaints about Punch – and other major property-owning companies with a large public house portfolio – was that their operating contracts with their tenant landlords were not always conducive to allowing those landlords to make a decent living wage out of the pub. This led to tenants being unable to carry on, pubs closing down and eventually being sold off.
Then Punch started to sell off some sections of its pub property portfolio. You may recall our Newsletter talking about The Bay Horse in Otley being included in a mass pub sale by Punch to New River Retail, for instance. So – good news, you might think! But unfortunately New River Retail [the clue’s in the name] are mainly interested in pubs that can be bought cheaply, gutted or demolished, and turned into retail outlets.] Fortunately, The Bay Horse has all sorts of local protection, including its ACV, and in any case isn’t really suitable for conversion to retail [although it does have the additional building outside in Bay Horse Court.]
Now Patron Capital Partners, working with Dutch drinks giant Heineken, have made a share offer to Punch which would see them taking over 1,900 of Punch’s remaining 3,300 establishments, meaning they themselves would then own a total of about 3,000 UK pubs. CAMRA have already spoken out against the takeover, with its Chairman Colin Valentine saying CAMRA “is seriously concerned” by the proposal. “Any attempt to monopolise the industry goes against the spirit of the great British pub.” So poor old Punch Taverns are damned if they keep all their pubs, and damned if they sell them off [not that we’ll shed too many tears for them].
SUNTORY and SIPSMITH
And it’s not only big brewing companies that are making a move in the market. The world’s third-largest spirits company, the Japanese-owned BEAM SUNTORY, which already owns Jim Beam, Teacher’s and Courvoisier has ‘swallowed up’ the independent London gin company Sipsmith, according to The Guardian. Now you may say “So what?”, like a lot of people did when a fuss was kicked up about the two London-based craft brewers Meantime and Camden Town selling out to mega-brewers AB-InBev and SAB-Miller.
Well, as far as I understand it, there are at least two major problems – both for the remaining small craft beer brewers and craft gin distillers alike. Megacorps don’t like risk for a start, which is just about diametrically opposite to the craft drinks business, where experimentation and inventiveness are the core of their success. And then there’s the power of the megacorps to advertise and promote globally, while at the same time cutting production and distribution costs to a minimum because of their incredible buying power. [In times of product shortage – of hops for instance – this creates a third problem, when they can corner the market by throwing money at it, and denying scarce raw materials to small producers.]
And if you’re not in the least bit interested in that story – how about this for a coincidence? One of the two founders of Sipsmith, who will be staying with the company following its takeover, is called FAIRFAX HALL. I kid you not! [See ‘HAPPY NEW YEAR’ above!!]
A CONVERSATION ABOUT FAITH . . .
. . . might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you read our newsletters, or go to a pub, but that’s exactly what Otley Parish Church is encouraging you to join in with, at North Bar Social every Tuesday evening in January. The conversations will start at 7:30 pm, and the flyer that I saw [actually a printed beermat!] invites you to “Ask questions – discover new ideas – (and) enjoy a drink.” The conversations will be about the following topics:
Jan 10 – Is there anything worth living for?
Jan 17 – Has science disproved God?
Jan 24 – What about suffering in the World? and
Jan 31 – Do all lives matter?
So if you’d like to join in a more theological and philosophical chat in a pub, rather than the usual football and politics, North Bar Social on a Tuesday is the place to be.
ANOTHER QUICK WORD ABOUT SAVING PUBS
I hope you all saw our President, Greg Mulholland MP, being interviewed on the ITV local news programme Calendar, way back on the 8th of December. It was in the context of the ‘Tonight’ programme later that night examining the ways that communities could rally round to save their local pubs. Greg was in The Roebuck for the interview, and it was good to see yet another Otley pub [well, Newall-with-Clifton, really] getting a mention, along with another name-check for Otley Pub Club. Greg mentioned the next step in the national campaign to save pubs, which is to persuade the Government to stop permitted development rights for pubs by putting them in their own planning class. This proposed move is also being supported by CAMRA.
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Just 2 days away – sorry for the short post-holiday notice! The meeting will be held at 19:15 as usual, this Thursday, January 05, in The Red Lion – our first meeting there since it became a Craft Union pub, so we’ll try to find a quiet area away from the big screens! Then we’ll move on to North Bar Social for 20:45, and leave there to go back to Whitakers at 21:30. [Yes, I know it seems silly walking from Kirkgate to Bondgate and back to Kirkgate again, but we try to work out our schedules so that we meet in each of our 20 pubs and visit the rest at different times in the evening. Then we go through all 20 in a different order, and so on each time. HOWEVER – we also have to fit in the 3 pubs that are slightly further out of town . . . and you’re bored already! See you in The Red Lion!
03 January 2017