Remember – if you’re only interested in what’s on in the pubs, go straight to the end!

Just when you thought it was safe to go back out on the roads, we get loads more of the white stuff! Although to be fair to the forecasters, they did say after the surprise chaos caused on a Thursday morning a couple of weeks ago that we should expect more snow before Spring. And sure enough – here it was again on Saturday, and immediately there were road closures across the Pennines South of the M62; accidents on the Motorway itself, and virtual gridlock all round Bradford. I hope you all managed to stay safe if you had to drive through any of it. Anyway, by this time next month it’ll be all crocuses and daffodils and temperatures in the teens, and we’ll all be back to talking about Brexit rather than the beast from the East.


BREXIT  (YAWN)  .  .  .

Well, why wait till next month to talk about it? Wetherspoons Chairman Tim Martin certainly can’t wait – I don’t think he’s ever stopped talking about it since well before the referendum. You must know his opinion of Brexit by now – either from the man himself or because I’ve shared that opinion with you in these newsletters. What I really can’t understand though, is why he seems to still be trying to convince everybody that it will mean a wonderful future for all of us. Either it will – in which case he doesn’t really need to convince us, because we’ll all find out in the end – or it won’t, in which case no amount of telling us will change the final result.

So why not just accept that ‘the public have spoken’, that Brexit is going ahead with or without Tim’s pat on the back, and wait a year or two to see if his forecast land of milk and honey really does come to pass? I’m quite happy for him to say “I told you so” if he’s right, but I really can’t stand the increasing number of pages taken up in the Wetherspoons magazine dedicated to the debate. After another 2-page editorial on the subject in the Spring edition, there are no fewer than 10 more full Brexit debate-dedicated pages.

(But while I’m talking about Wetherspoons, I would like to thank The Bowling Green in Otley for offering us the chance to try out their Spring real ale festival beers and ciders on the eve of the festival itself. Much appreciated – even if it did mean I had to send you an extra email to let you know. I do hate unnecessarily full inboxes!)

  .  .  .  AND CHARITY  .  .  .

Much more worthwhile than 10 pages about Brexit are the 10 pages in the same magazine given over to describing the Wetherspoons chain’s support for CLIC Sargent – the UK’s leading cancer charity for children. What began in 2002 as an attempt to raise £500,000 has now passed the £15 million milestone, and the magazine rightly covers the many stories from individual pubs about their own collection efforts. They include this one about The Bowling Green, (alongside a photo of) “Local residents and stall-holders, sisters Beth and Jade Pinder . . . with their array of gift ideas at a Christmas craft market in Otley. The Bowling Green Christmas Fair invited local businesses and crafters to the charity fundraising event, held in a tent in the pub’s beer garden. As well as the stalls, there were raffles, a tombola and name-the-Teddy competition, helping to raise £340 for the charity pot.”





One of the things that is often overlooked when people talk about pubs as social centres or community hubs is the amount of money that they raise for a wide variety of charities. The few pence change that you drop in the bar-top collecting boxes can add up to a large amount. Yet it almost always goes unnoticed and unheralded. North Bar Social for instance is part of the small North Bar chain, which has been collecting since last July for St Gemma’s Hospice. St Gemma’s is a Leeds-based charity providing the best possible care and quality of life for local people with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses – both at the Hospice and out in the community. It is one of the largest hospices in the UK, and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. North Bar celebrated its own 20th anniversary last year, and since last July has raised £12,512 of the 12-month target of £20,000. [Roughly £2,000 of that has been raised by North Bar Social in Otley.) If you want to contribute towards that target merely by drinking, 20 pence from the price of every pint of their session pale ale #NB20 goes directly into the St Gemma’s pot!

I know all the pubs in Otley have their own favourite charities, with collecting boxes on the bar often supported by special events, quizzes or charity concerts. Most landlords don’t want to make a fuss about it, they just want to get on and quietly support the charities in their own way. You might have noticed from our website that we did start trying to tot up all the different pub totals to all the different charities, but we gave up years ago because it was so complicated. With some pubs supporting a number of different charities and the boxes being emptied and counted at different times it was hard to make sure we didn’t miss any, and unless we had a completely accurate picture it didn’t seem worthwhile. But I would still love to let everyone know just how much the town’s pubs do contribute to charity. So if you’re a publican reading this, or a regular at a particular pub that you know does great things for charity, please, please let me know! I’ve mentioned 2 pubs this month, let’s try to get more in next month – and every month after that!


  .  .  .  AND BEER!

CAMRA have suggested that Brexit might offer the opportunity for the Government to change the fundamental taxation system on beer and pubs. This article on the BBC website says that despite beer duty having been frozen or even cut since 2013, over a third of the price of a pint in pubs [an average of over £1 a pint!] currently still goes straight to the taxman. This is because of the “triple whammy” of one of the highest rates of beer duty across Europe, rapidly rising business rates and VAT. CAMRA’s national chairman Colin Valentine said: “We can now look further afield for a new tax deal for the sector. This could include implementing the Australian model of having a lower rate of duty for beer sold in pubs, radically changing the business rates system, or charging a lower rate of VAT for pubs or, even better, all three.” Brexitland of milk and honey [and cheaper beer] here we come!



Pubs might not be all about beer, but a lot of bars now do seem to be all about gin. So maybe this new idea in Leeds might be right up your street. A luxury, chauffeur-driven Mercedes minibus will take you from door to door round 5 bars in Leeds. At each one you’ll try a 10ml sample of a different gin before watching, then tasting, the creation of a cocktail based on it. Most of us CAMRA types [even the ‘revitalised’ ones] probably think that at £50 a trip it’s more of a ‘bandwagin’ than a ‘bargin’!



You remember I mentioned the Otley connection to the Dogs Trust in the last invitation? Well now I’m happy to say we have something to be proud of, in relation to another animal charity. This article in The Wharfedale Observer says PDSA has awarded its Retail Team of the Year award to those running its fundraising shop on Kirkgate. The 20-strong team beat off competition from about 125 other PDSA store volunteer groups to scoop the top prize

I like the PDSA – they do wonderful work for the pets of people who can’t afford the high cost of insurance and vets’ bills but who still want to care for animals in their own homes. I don’t suppose my ten pounds-worth of raffle tickets every couple of months makes a great difference to their funds, but I’m happy to help. A lot of the charity’s funds will come from their high street shops, and it’s great to see the Otley shop volunteers gaining national recognition – well done to them!



The Stew & Oyster in Otley has finally joined an exclusive club in the town. It is now featured in the famous Historic Otley Ale Trail Guide, which lists all the town’s 21 existing pubs as well as its lost pubs from years gone by. The popular Guide, which we produce, is now on its second reprint and a special framed version was presented to the Stew & Oyster’s assistant manager Sami Baldwin by our chairman, Matt Hardin, with me looking on!

Matt said: “We are delighted to welcome the Stew and Oyster into the family of Otley pubs featured in the Guide, especially as it is housed in one of the town’s most historic buildings – the Old Grammar School. It is believed that Thomas Chippendale, the 300th anniversary of whose birth will be widely celebrated in 2018, used to be a student here. We are grateful to the Stew & Oyster for their sponsorship and support towards the production of the updated Guide.”

Sami added: “It’s great that Stew & Oyster is now featured in the Historic Otley Ale Trail Guide.  This sponsorship is part of being good neighbours. We want to be at the heart of the communities we serve and be regarded by our guests as an integral part of the places where they work and live.”

(Don’t forget that I’ll be leading a special Chippendale Trail ending at the Stew & Oyster on the morning of June 26 as part of the Otley Walking Festival and the Chippendale 300, the town’s celebrations of the 300th anniversary of Britain’s greatest furniture designer and maker. The same walk the following evening, Wednesday June 27, will instead finish at The Black Bull – which is pretty much unchanged since Chippendale lived here!)


I realise I didn’t actually include the link to this article in the March invitation, so here it is now. (“ . . . according to this article in, there’s a Beerjet machine that can pull 6 pints in under 10 seconds. But of course it IS lager, and no-one in the film looks particularly delighted while drinking it – but it keeps the bar staff happy, and you do get served quickly!”)



I know they’re not from Otley, but we do have a connection through North Bar Social, so it’s good to see North Brewing Co picking up a couple of firsts at the Society of Independent Brewers [SIBA] annual national business awards. (More details on their own web site.) They were judged to be the best in the business innovation category for their export operations, which utilised collaboration beers to great effect. Their keg beer Transmission took home the top gong in the craft keg competition with its “hugely drinkable beer with a light body and dry finish”. According to the Beertoday website, In the bottle and can competition (known as smallpack by those in the trade), it was Death or Glory from Tring Brewery which came out on top. “A rich, sweet barley wine with a heady, alcoholic nose, and incredibly complex flavour profile.” Mind you, Georgina Edwards, of Wolf Brewery, said: “A lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into that beer” so although that really might make it ‘complex’. I think I’ll be giving it a miss!




First – this is definitely NOT about me blowing my own trumpet!

Second – it really is a genuine cry for help!

Third – although I don’t actually ‘quit’ until the Otley Pub Club AGM in October, we need people to answer the cry for help as soon as possible [if not sooner!]

Currently, I fill the following positions:

SECRETARY – organising everything and everybody; general dogsbody; keeping the club running;

MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY – maintaining records of all our [currently c.450] members; distributing newsletters and ad hoc communications to members;

NEWSLETTER EDITOR – researching, writing, creating, and proofreading; co-ordinating PLO input; publishing on the OPC website;

PUB LIAISON OFFICER – Keeping in touch with my allocated [4] pubs and gathering information from them for their page on the OPC website and ‘Pub Stuff’ section of the newsletter;

PROJECT OFFICER – Taking the lead on some individual projects [like the Civil War battle re-creation and Yorkshire Day celebrities projects. Other committee members lead on other projects, like beer tasting events, pub passport, Ale Trail, merchandising etc. etc.];

LIAISON OFFICER FOR OTHER OTLEY ORGANISATIONS – Attending meetings on behalf of OPC and co-ordinating activities with Otley Town Council; Otley Chamber of Trade; Otley Town Partnership; Otley BID; Chippendale 300; Otley Walking Festival; Otley Beer Festival; Otley Folk Festival; etc. etc.

SOCIAL MEDIA CO-ORDINATOR – Managing, administration and leading on input/communication to OPC social media accounts – currently Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I will have been doing most of these jobs for 5 years by the time the 2018 AGM comes around and [most of the time!] it’s been great fun and very rewarding. We’ve delivered some very satisfying and successful projects in that time, like re-naming the pubs in French when the Tour de France came through Otley, the Civil War battle to commemorate Cromwell’s troops drinking The Black Bull dry, and having a stall at two Otley Food and Drink Festivals where we managed to persuade local breweries to give away free beer! Because I was retired from paid employment for all those 5 years I was able to give a lot of my time to helping achieve those successes. Now I want to take a step back and have a rest!

Bearing in mind the very first point at #1 above, it doesn’t take much to see that if I stop fulfilling all those responsibilities and nobody else picks them up, Otley Pub Club in its current form just won’t be able to carry on. So it’s desperately important that we try to get more people onto the committee. We have had some offers of help from the last time I made a similar plea. People have said they could do individual, discrete tasks but didn’t want to be committed to the committee. [We still know who you are – don’t worry!]

I will DEFINITELY be resigning as Secretary and as Membership Secretary. The two can be undertaken by the same person, but don’t have to be. The first takes about 12 hours a month, the second probably only about an hour [plus attendance at the monthly meeting].

I will PROBABLY be resigning as lead admin on OPC social media accounts as well. I have never really given any of the three dedicated outlets sufficient thought or time, and they really need someone who is more comfortable with mobile technology than I am, as well as being more social media-savvy. Probably take you an hour or two a week.

I will also POSSIBLY be giving up any or all of the remaining responsibilities if anyone wants to take on any of them!! I only went to my first meeting as an excuse for having a beer in Otley. I only joined the committee because they needed people and I was free. I only wanted to produce the newsletter and nothing else whatsoever – and look where that got me!

I know what it’s like considering joining an organisation where you don’t know anyone. You think they’ll all be cliquey, they’ll treat you as an outsider; they won’t want to listen to your ideas; and they’ll just fob you off with all the worst jobs. Well I can assure you that will not be the case with OPC! [Ha – and they would all say that too, wouldn’t they??] They welcomed me with open arms, and virtually let me get on with whatever I wanted – as long as I did it myself! And there’s the one and only rub. If you do join us, you will actually have to do something! If you are at all interested [and believe me, being in a position where you get to know every landlord and every pub in Otley is no bad thing!] and you wouldn’t mind finding out more, I’m happy to meet anyone, at any time, to talk about anything! Just email me at



We usually only include here anything special going on over the next month. If a pub’s not mentioned, don’t worry – it [probably!] hasn’t closed, and the regular weekly quiz, open mic or whatever will still be on. We’re updating our website to include all those regular events so you can check them out at any time. Collection of info from pubs and updating of website is proving a bit time-consuming, but should be completed soon.


  • PLEASE NOTE – Food service stops at 6pm on Good Friday and Easter Monday, March 30 and April 2


  • Open mic night 1st Sunday every month
  • Special menu for Easter.


  • Thursday March 29 – Gin Night with 8 gins, entrance by ticket only, pizza supper included
  • New menu now on.
  • Folk Club Weds.


  • Guinness on draft now
  • Sky Sports on 2 screens. All major sports. If your game isn’t on just ask!
  • Regular bottle deals.



  • Following cake and beer month, watch out for beer and cheese pairings! 3 x 1/3rds of Belgian beer and a slice of Belg
    ian cheese!
  • Lowlands Beer Festival throughout April, with beers from Belgium and the Netherlands.
  • Ghost brewery’s Reaper available in 12 different varieties – one for each month of the year. After Mango in Jan and Pear in Feb, it’s Lychee this month. They only brew one barrel of each and it’s only available at North Bar Social, so make sure you try each and every one!
  • All the Spring cycling classics will be shown on the newly-installed bigger TV.
  • STAFF WANTED! – NBS are hiring a new assistant manager and some part-time staff. See their website, drop your CV at the bar or email



  • Quiz night Thursday at 9pm
  • Watch out for live music nights


  • Gin night on Weds 21 March. £20/head for 8 samples and a second cocktail with your favourite.
  • Look out for Oyster week in April [dates tbc]. 3 different oysters and a variety of toppings.
  • Tuesdays baby and toddler group social from 10am to midday
  • Friday free pie
  • Quiz night Thursday win a £40 voucher. 


  • Karaoke 8pm on Thursdays


  • Don’t forget to check their facebook page regularly [link below] for the latest news on live music, drinks offers and more.



  • We need your help!
  • This Easter we are collecting Easter Eggs for the Children’s Oncology Ward at Leeds General Infirmary. We would like to ask for any support you feel you can give, to bring 
    a smile to one of those children. We’d love to beat last years record of 50, any donations can be passed to any member of the Wetherspoons Otley staff. 
  • Thank you in advance for your help and support



  • Open Mike Night 1st Wednesday every month
  • Quiz night every Thursday from 8:00 pm


  • Every Tuesday from 9:00 PM on, there is a folk play along upstairs.
  • Easter Beer Festival 29/3 – 2/4 Over 30 ales from Derbyshire plus Derbyshire Fidgety Pie


  • We are currently looking for part time and full time bar staff for the Horse & Farrier pub. Experience desirable but not essential. Much more important is flexibility and a positive attitude towards your work, where the customer is at the centre of everything you do. Weekends and shift work will be part of your General workin
    g week so if you can’t do these please do not apply. If you feel you have the requirements for these positions please make contact by either calling the pub or emailing your CV to
  • Quiz night Wednesday. Multiple prizes.
  • Open mic Thursdays
  • New spring summer menu from April.
  • Last Friday of the month (30th – Good Friday) live comedy. 5 acts . Tickets £4 in advance £5 on the night. Bargain. Headline is award winner Edy Hurst.


  • Ace of Spades Jackpot game every Wednesday at 7:00 PM
  • Quiz Night every Tuesday at 9:00 PM (Note change of time)


  • Quiz nights Tuesday and Sunday. Win a beer voucher.
  • Thursdays pensioners lunch £4.95 includes a drink.
  • Karaoke 1st Sat in month.
  • Open mic 3rd Thursday.
  • Friday spend £20 on food for a free bottle of wine.
  • Carvery on Sunday.
  • Monday is board gaming night.
  • 31 March carboot sale in the carpark starts 1100
  • 7 April The Cruisers a 60s cover band.
  • 14 April bingo night.



  • Irish Sessions every Sunday from 9:00 PM
  • Open Mic Night every Friday from 8:30 PM
  • Courtney Visser 22/3 from 8:00 PM
  • Joe and Anne Gallagher 24/3 from 9:00 PM
  • Tony Lambert and Carfrae 29/3 from 8:00 PM
  • Twisters 31/3 from 9:00 PM
  • Lisa-Marie Glover and Roadside Picnic 5/4 from 8:00 PM
  • Steve Chapman-Smith 7/4 from 9:00 PM
  • Ellie & George and Doc Brown 12/4 from 8:00 PM
  • (Artist to be advised) 14/4 from 9:00 PM


  • Open over Easter including full menu on BH Monday
  • Quiz night Wednesday. Starts 2030. Win. Voucher for 2 pies (well worth it). Winner potential bonus of a bottle of Prosecco.
  • Tuesdays 2 courses for £12
  • 1st June Ladies Day races event in the marquee. 
  • With over 50 gins look out for gin and Yorkshire tapas evenings.



  • Still the only Otley pub to guarantee live music every Friday and Saturday night










































Stew and Oyster


– – / / – – / / – – / / – –


Finally, my usual apologies for errors and/or omissions. If you are receiving these newsletters and any other correspondence from Otley Pub Club by email, but you no longer want them, just email the return address and let me know. On the other hand, if you stop receiving our newsletters in future but you still want to be a member, something’s gone wrong! Remember this email address for the future – , or get in touch via the website and I’ll put you back on the mailing list right away. Thanks!


Bob Brook

OPC Secretary


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