THIS MONTH’S MEETING, Thursday 5th of July

As I said last month [in a slightly flippant fashion, I admit, and with apologies to the pubs involved] “we’re now at that time of the year where we brave the fringes of Otley and visit the pubs up the hill at one side of the river or the other”. So having met at The Roebuck at the beginning of June, and moved on to The Yew Tree, you can probably guess where we’ll be this week! Yep [no prizes!] it’s The Royalty, up there on Yorkgate at the top of the Chevin, and we won’t be moving on to any other pubs nearby. [There aren’t any.] And just to be awkward yet again, this month’s meeting has reverted to a THURSDAY night because the Otley Town Centre Cycle Races [see article below] take place on Wednesday. That means transport might be disrupted; the pubs might be full; and we want to watch the racing ourselves!

And now The Royalty gives 10% discount off all drinks for cardholder plus 1, on presentation of our Premier membership card. I’ll make sure we take some up there with us, so that you can buy one on the night and use it straight away! Other offers are highlighted below, as well as how to obtain a card if you aren’t coming on Thursday.



THE YEW TREE – 20% off food [cardholder +1]

THE HORSE & FARRIER – 20% off food [cardholder + 1]

THE FLEECE – 10% off food [cardholder + family]

THE BLACK HORSE HOTEL – 10% off food [cardholder + 1] Thurs, Fri, Sat 12 – 2:30 and 5 – 8 and Sun 12 – 3.

– also 10% off any room bookings made by cardholder for family or friends staying in Otley.

STEW & OYSTER – 10% off all drinks and food [cardholder + 5 max!]

and new this month, so you can make the most of the remaining heatwave –

THE ROYALTY – 10% off drinks for cardholder + 1

When you use the card, could you please say you are a cardholder before ordering, and confirm the savings on offer. This is still something completely new both for us and for the pubs, so we want to make sure we get it right without any confusion or mistakes. As you know, staff turnover in the hospitality industry can be large, and sometimes new personnel don’t know every offer that might be available or can’t apply the discount themselves. Cards cost £10 a year, and are currently only available over the counter at The Curious Hop, Newmarket, Otley. Opening hours 10:00-19:00 Tuesday to Saturday, 11:00 -17:00 Sunday.



You might also remember my trying to excuse the shortage of information in the June newsletter, as I said I’d been a bit too busy to collect any! AND that the next one or two might be similar, because of my involvement in the Otley Walking Festival; continuing to try to raise money to pay for our Yorkshire Day project; and continuing to try to persuade more of the chosen Yorkshire celebrities to attend on the day. [At the time I said the pubs could always email me at any time if they want us to promote their events – they don’t have to wait until I turn up on their doorstep. Coincidentally, I was actually sitting watching the World Cup IN The Otley Tavern the other night, when I received a facebook message from the landlord, Peter Jackson!]

So I said it was a perfect time for someone to send in a couple of contributions for the Newsletter, the first was the poem from Peter Stott in the June Newsletter, and the second is his story below, from Otley half a century ago. Both evoke memories of The Rose & Crown in Otley, which is quite topical, now that another long-serving couple have left the pub. As you might have noticed, work has now started on the interior of the pub, and I’ll be going down there sometime this week to see if I can find out any news about its future re-opening.



Please, please  please – if anyone has any memories like this about other pubs in Otley, do send them in so I can print them! They don’t have to be from this long ago – they could just be about a previous landlady/landlord [as long as they’re not libellous!] or a recently-closed pub like The Summercross, The Yeoman, or The Bridge. They could even be about just one memorable party night, or a stretcher race, or even a bar fight! They’re all part of Otley’s rich pub tapestry. Anyhow – enjoy this story for now.

Back in the mid-1960s The Rose & Crown was half its present size, or less. Customers for the best room used to turn left into a narrow space, and the piano was just inside the door, with its back to Bondgate. There was a long bench seat along the Crossgate wall and small round tables with stools, leaving just enough room for people to stand at the bar and for others to squeeze past to the end of the room. The bar was equipped with hand-pulls for Bentley’s beer (Bentley’s Yorkshire Brewery {or Breweries?}) and there was also Whitbread Tankard….maybe others, but I can’t remember. Toilets were at the far end of the room.

The larger public bar, mostly a male-populated space, is where people played dominoes. Occasionally there would be a loud shout of “Drop!”, which led to a rush from the small room to buy a domino for sixpence (2.5p). Twenty-seven dominoes were sold, and the final domino was then revealed, the money going to the buyer of the domino with the same number of spots (or nearest number if it was double-blank or double-six). In the event of a tie, the owners of the lucky dominoes could agree to share the winnings or could draw separately to decide which of them would walk away with the whole “pot”. My greatest sporting achievement ever was winning two drops one evening and going home with more cash than I’d started with.

Joe and Margaret Rogerson ran the pub and made us lads welcome. We went in there regularly in the late 1960s, until most of us married and/or moved away from Otley. I mentioned the piano in the smaller of the two rooms. There the characters who entertained us most were the pianist and the self-appointed leader of the singing. The singer was a Scot. We never knew his name, but we referred to him as “Donald” because he’d always sing “Donald, Where’s Yer Troosers?” He also performed “The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen” and any number of old music-hall songs and choruses. It was fun for us, being in that multi-generational company where everyone joined in and enjoyed themselves.

The pianist was Tony Butcher, well known locally for his eccentric appearance. Bravely, I think one has to allow, Tony wore face-powder, and he used to paint on a small black moustache when leaving his home. He was of my parents’ generation, so I suppose he was about fifty years old in the late 1960s. He appeared to be a gentle and harmless character. If I recall correctly what my parents said, Tony had been known in the 1930s for his unusual sense of dress, favouring open-toed sandals which more manly types would never have worn in public. If I recall correctly what a friend of mine reported, Tony’s arrival at the “Rose & Crown” one night caused howls of laughter, because he’d painted only one side of his moustache. I guess Tony had no living relatives, because I think Joe and Margaret took responsibility for arranging his funeral and putting a notice in the “Wharfedale”.

The other pubs I mainly frequented were the “Fountain” and the “Red Lion”. The “Junction” was strictly off-limits unless you were prepared to get into a fight. I’ll try to scribble a bit more when I get a chance. [I hope you do, this is fascinating stuff – Ed. Also – sorry about the photo. It was the only one I could find with a painted on moustache!]



The month of special events in Otley to celebrate Thomas Chippendale’s 300th birthday is now over, and I’d just like to thank the group who planned, organised and promoted them all. Especially Lawrence Ross from Otley Town Partnership, who led the group tirelessly, and James Ellis from the tourism and marketing agency ‘All About the Story’ who organised all the publicity and advertising – including the amazing 3-hour BBC Radio Leeds breakfast show live from Stew and Oyster. Thanks also to all the singers, cabinet makers, antiques experts, brewers, gardeners and many, many more, as well as to everyone who joined in to make it a month to remember. The town will now have something to live up to, when the 400th anniversary comes around!



Yes, I know I wrote about these last time as well, and I really am trying to avoid creating the feeling of déjà vu you’re now having, but I don’t want you to miss what is one of the busiest and most exciting nights in the Otley Summer calendar. Here’s the full line-up

17:15 – Roads close

18:00 – Boys Super Prestige Youth Race


18:01 – Girls Super Prestige Youth Race

19:00 – Pinsent Masons Otley Women’s GP Race

19:45 – Chevin Cycles Classic Race

20:50 – Property Development Otley GP Race

21:40 – Prize presentations

22:00 – Roads re-open



You can get a flavour here of what the Business Improvement District has achieved over the past 4 years, as it prepares to ask Otley business rate payers whether they want the initiative to continue for another 5 years. Peter Mudge, who had been part-time BID manager for 3 years, has now moved on, but they have been offered additional help by Tim Wilkinson of Dowgill House, who has agreed to assist part-time in the run up to this October’s ballot. He will be out & about informing businesses of the ballot & what it means to Otley. If you are a business rate payer and have a question, please don’t hesitate to ask him.

And talking of Tim, I’m sure I’ve probably mentioned that he produces the excellent Otley Economic Bulletin, which is packed with bang up-to-the-minute news about businesses in Otley. Well, the June edition contained a really interesting and hugely positive item about Otley shops. Despite the impression you might get sometimes that there are too many closed businesses, and to let or for sale signs around town, we’re doing pretty well! With the collapse of a number of national retail chains as well as individual pubs, restaurants and banks, and with customers increasingly buying online, 2018 is looking pretty brutal for the retail industry. Newport South Wales, Dewsbury, and Burslem Stoke on Trent are the three towns suffering most, with 27%, 29% and over 30% of their shops now empty. With Otley having a large ratio of independent shops, compared to the growing ranks of the same national chains found in every large town, our rate remains at about 5% – that is 95% occupied!



I suppose it was only a matter of time before someone found a way to reproduce the polymer notes first rolled out in 2016. According to The Otley Economic Bulletin again, reports from parts of the country indicate that flimsier feeling fake fivers are beginning to appear. If you want to know how you can tell the fake from the real thing, see the June Bulletin here. There’s also a phone app available from the bank of England available in Android here and iOS version here. [I believe these to be genuine, but obviously do ascertain for yourself that any software is exactly what it says it is before downloading. For best results just search for the app on your own phone – search for ‘Bank of England Banknotes’.]



Panicking about your pint? Concerned about your crumpets? You’ve probably been seeing and hearing about the shortage of CO2 all over the popular media for a week or so now, but is it just a fairly jokey story to fill up the news schedules in a heatwave, and take our mind off more serious matters like trains, NHS, Brexit, football and the merger between Monsanto and Bayer? [That last one really does worry me, and yet it seems to have slipped completely under the main news radar!] First, the CO2 shortage is real. Major chains like Wetherspoons are running out of beer brands like John Smiths; brewers from Heineken to Brewdog have been expressing concerns about having to stop production; and some stores like Asda have restricted online sales of fizzy drinks.

But no sooner has it happened, than it appears to be over. It was only ever down to a shortage of ammonia and ethanol, key components in CO2 production, following longer than expected shutdowns for maintenance at key producers across Europe. It also came during a really hot dry spell AND during the football World Cup – both of which tend to increase beer and cold drink consumption! According to the Guardian a major CO2 producer – ENSUS – last week reopened its ethanol plant near Redcar, which it said had already begun producing CO2 which is a by-product of its fuel production process. It supplies Praxair, a major distributor of food-grade gas and dry ice to food and drink firms. So don’t worry – when England win the World Cup, there’ll be plenty of beer to celebrate with! It’s much more likely that by then we’ll all be suffering from water shortages .  .  .



Thanks to a free advertising supplement about Denver, Colorado from United Airlines in last weekend’s papers, I learned stuff about the city that I hadn’t known before – especially about beer! Here are a few items of interest from that supplement, and from the Denver City website.

  • Colorado is known as the ‘Napa Valley of Beer’ and is the state with the second highest concentration of craft breweries. There are now [April 2018] 350 across the state, and Denver is at its heart, with around 150 in the city – winning five gold medals at this year’s World Beer Cup awards. [I was only able to identify about half that number, so I’ll just have to take their word for it in the knowledge that Americans never exaggerate their own importance or achievements. Ever. – Ed]
  • Denver brews more beer than any other city. The first building in Denver was a saloon, so it’s natural that Denver would become a great beer town. Coors Brewery is the world’s largest. The Wynkoop Brewing Company is one of the largest brewpubs in the country. On an average day in the Denver Metro area, more than 200 different beers are brewed.
  • The Great American Beer Festival is held in Denver every September and either “has 3,500 artisan, classic and rare brews on offer” [United Airlines] or “is the largest in the nation, offering more than 6,700 different beers for tasting.” [Denver website]
  • There are 4 Denver Beer Trails – each through a different downtown neighbourhood. They cover 14 miles and 35 taprooms in total, making it the ultimate craft beer pub crawl – a half marathon of beer!
  • And Finally – [Now you’re used to the heatwave over here.] In this literally mile-high city there are around 300 days of sunshine a year and a mere 8-15 inches of annual precipitation. Average high daily temperatures range from the mid-40s Fahrenheit in winter to the mid-80s in summer, so you can enjoy a beer anytime! Seasonal direct flights to Denver from Heathrow and NO, I’m not being paid for this. I just thought it was an interesting beery bit of news.




  .  .  . I still think this is one of the best football songs I’ve heard. It’s simple, so everyone can sing along, and yet it grows into a rousing anthem [and it’s better than Kick, Kick, Kick, Kick, Kicky Kicky,  Kick Kick]! Written by Branden Steineckert, drummer from the rock/punk band Rancid, who fell in love with ‘soccer’ when he went to an RSL game with band frontman Lars Frederiksen. Lars is a Milwall fan [no surprise there!], but has also written a song for his first team San Jose Earthquakes. We’re here for RSL! [Video deleted for copyright reasons, but available on the internet.]





Bob Brook

OPC Secretary

2 July 2018

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