THIS WEEK’S MEETING, Thursday 02 November

I’ve been asked a couple of times why I put the meeting details right at the end of the news, rather than at the beginning. So as from this month it will be the first thing you read [then you don’t have to read anything else, if all you want to know is where and when to join us!]

THE MANOR HOUSE – Meeting at 19:15; social from 20:00

THE OTLEY TAP HOUSE – Social from 20:45

THE WHITE SWAN – Social from 21:30

All three pubs are at the Eastern end of the town centre, either side of Manchester Square and within spitting distance [please don’t!] of the maypole.


At least 3 of our pubs are having firework displays this year. They’re all FREE and they’re all on the same night – Saturday the 4th. So just choose your local, or your favourite, and head down there on the night:

The Fleece, Westgate – Fireworks only, at 20:00

The Roebuck, Newall Carr Road – With bonfire. Fireworks start 18:30
The Royalty, York Road – With bonfire. Fire lit at 18:30.
[There’s also a bonfire and fireworks at Otley Rugby Club, Cross Green – Gates open 17:30; bonfire lit 18:15; fireworks 18:45. £5 entry or £18 for a family of 4.]



The Royal British Legion will continue to accept old pound coins donated to its annual Poppy Appeal, even though the deadline for spending them has passed. Hundreds of millions of the round pounds were thought to remain in circulation when they stopped being legal tender earlier in October. 

But the coins did not become completely worthless overnight. Poppy sellers will be able to accept the old pound until 12 November. If you would prefer to have a hand-made poppy [by Sue Rimmer], they’re available in The Otley Tavern, for a minimum donation of £2 [the new ones!]



Buying a community pub is not a venture for the faint-hearted. There have to be enough people who are committed enough to go through the formal procedures; raise an adequate amount of money to buy the freehold of the property and probably spend a reasonable amount refurbishing it; and then form a board to run it – taking care of licensing, management, finances and all the rest.

But the benefits can be huge. Drinkers are likely to be the most obvious beneficiaries, as prices will probably reduce when the landlord is no longer ‘tied’ to a single drinks provider. The variety of drinks on offer might also improve, for the same reason. Potential community benefits are almost endless – from having your parcels delivered there if you’re not at home all day; to having a room set aside as a free library, or as a book and DVD/CD exchange; to even setting up a community brewery or bunkhouse or other amenity that might be of use to the community, if the pub is big enough.

Here’s just one story about another such purchase in Yorkshire – at the Gardener’s Rest in Sheffield. But it’s not alone. The Cross Keys in Redgrave, Suffolk, and the Iorwerth Arms, Bryngwran on Anglesey have also recently become community-owned and –run pubs. It’s sad that people are having to put their own time and money on the line to save community assets that have been run into the ground by a combination of negative factors outside their control. What’s more, it’s ridiculous that community pubs can all thrive, when their previous, usually pubco, owners have failed to make them successful. If this is going to be the future for pubs in the UK, so be it – but it’ll be a long hard struggle. All we’re asking for is a fair market rent, the freedom to run a sensibly-priced business that isn’t tied to the owners’ restricted and highly-priced drinks list, and a reasonable system of taxation on the Nation’s favourite drink! [And no, that’s not tea.]



I’ve said this before but it’s worth saying again, because I’m sure there are still a lot of people around who aren’t really sure what Otley Pub Club is all about! We try to support and promote all the pubs in Otley, by sharing their news about quizzes, gigs, beer promotions and any other events they want to publicise. We also work with other organisations in town that support all businesses and the community as a whole – like the Chamber of Trade, Otley BID and Otley Town Partnership. We even try to put on special events ourselves every now and again, in an attempt to attract more visitors to the town – visitors who we hope will bring much-needed business to the pubs.

But we do understand that sometimes people might want to take bottles home, and appreciate the wider range of foreign and continental beers that dedicated beer shops can offer. The Curious Hop in New Market in Otley has always supported Otley Pub Club, by storing and distributing copies of The Historic Otley Ale Trail, and by advertising our events with posters in the shop or by word of mouth. So it’s good to see them getting a nod of recognition in this online article. [But don’t forget who we are – and if you DO come into Otley to buy bottles (or cans), make sure you call in to at least one of the town’s pubs before you leave again!]



If you think there are too many pubs and/or bottle shops around already – don’t worry! There are plenty of brewers willing to keep turning out the products to keep them supplied! As this Guardian article says, there are now over 2,000 breweries in the UK for the first time since the 1930s, dramatically reversing the trend for consolidation that’s been going on since the end of the second World War! The range and quality of available beers is now quite staggering – especially for those of us who remember Watney’s Red and ‘party 7’ cans You ended up opening them with a hammer and a screwdriver if you’d forgotten to take a can opener to the party, losing about a pint in spray and froth in the process. Not that it mattered TOO much as it tasted vile anyway! Now you can get vegan beer; gluten-free beer; beer made from left over bread that would otherwise be wasted; beer with any fruit flavour you can possibly imagine; and even peanut butter and banana stout!

If you’re confused by the variety of beers on offer, you can often find a local pub having a ‘meet the brewer’ or a ‘tap takeover’ night, where they’ll happily explain the taste characteristics of each beer to you, and let you sample the beers themselves before you buy. In fact there were two local brewers in Otley this very weekend. Stew & Oyster hosted Wishbone Brewery from Keighley on Friday night, and on Saturday Baildon’s Ghost Brewery appropriately took over the taps for the pub’s Halloween party! If you’re not a fan of new-fangled beers, there’s always a massive choice of traditional quality brews in Otley. Every now and again there’s even a beer festival – like the one at The Old Cock over the weekend, which showcased 30 beers from 9 Lincolnshire breweries. Every traditional style you could imagine, and a few new ones thrown in – what more could you wish for?



One of the reasons for the rise in craft microbreweries is the sliding scale of taxation on beer. If you produce less than [roughly] 11 thousand gallons a year, you’re eligible for a 50% tax cut – that’s equivalent to about 26p on a pint of 5% beer, so it’s well worth having! The tax benefits are on a sliding scale up to an annual production of 12 times the amount above, which has led some of the larger brewers, like Adnams, to cry foul.

In next month’s budget, the Government plans to increase the tax on beer in line with the Retail Price Index [currently 3.9%, but highly discredited – the lower Consumer Price Index at 2.9% is thought to be a more realistic indicator of the cost of living increase.] That would immediately wipe out all recent gains from scrapping the beer duty escalator, and put another 3 or 4 pence back on a pint of beer. At the same time, it’s likely that business rates will also use the RPI as the basis of any increase, putting still more pressure on the industry.

That’s why the British Beer and Pub Association has been running a campaign to cut beer duty, and encouraging everyone to write to their MP urging them to vote against it. They distributed 200,000 beer mats to 2,000 pubs, which highlighted the massive 39% increase in tax on beer over the past 10 years. They have subsequently welcomed a Parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall about the issue this Tuesday, 31 October


This year’s Fayre is on Sunday the 3rd of December, from midday until 6pm. Now organised by Otley Town Partnership, the Fayre has been run by volunteers ever since it first appeared in 1985. Since then, some other towns in the area have organised their own Victorian or Dickensian Fayres in the run-up to Christmas, but ours is the original, and obviously the best! There are several competitions running on the day, including our own Victorian Alehouse trophy, and there really is a whole range of attractions that is bound to offer something for everybody. So put the date in your diary now, and check out the Victorian Fayre website to find out more.



An extra event has been added to the already crowded Otley calendar this year, thanks to the members of the Otley Chamber of Trade. Over 70 shops and cafés will stay open late on Thursday the 7th of December, so that you can do some pre-Christmas shopping after school, after tea, and after work. And of course, remember that all the pubs in town will be open after 7pm, so you can relax for a while on your way home after you’re shopping’s done!



Did you happen to call in at one of the pubs that was throwing a Halloween party last Saturday? I know of 5 that were encouraging people to come along in fancy dress. I was at one of them, where the turnout and the costumes were just fantastic, and I’ve seen photos of others that looked at least as good if not better! There are a number of things that strike me about this –

  • It proves that pubs really are still the hubs of the community – the best place to enjoy yourself, meet your mates, let your hair down and have some fun!
  • Otley’s pubs are definitely INclusive places to visit. We were not in costume, while most people around us were, but we weren’t made to feel out of place or awkward in any way;
  • The people of Otley are incredibly willing to go out and support events in town, whether it’s dressing up like this, charity music gigs, town fairs and festivals or one-off events like the Grand Départ back in 2014; and finally
  • As it was the same day as thousands flocked to Whitby Goth Weekend, it made me wonder whether Otley should have a horror weekend. Maybe it could take place at the same time as the successful charity fundraising Otley Zombie Apocalypse? Anybody willing to take on the idea? (If only the old Ideal Standard works on Ilkley Road could be converted into a Travelodge to provide extra beds for visitors, or maybe even a horror-themed escape room attraction – or why not both?)



 The Red Lion has been given the go-ahead to i nvest in a new “State of the Art” quiz system where the questions appear on TV screens and teams are given a remote control to answer multiple choice questions within a very short time frame. It vastly reduces the opportunity to cheat, is very exciting to take part in, and adds a new dimension to Pub Quizzes, but they need a Quiz Master to add his or her own personality, organise the teams and be the recognised face of the weekly quiz.

It will be every Wednesday from about 8pm, (presenter will need to be there by 7.30pm to organise) all equipment will be provided, and they hope to have a trial run early in November, so speed is of the essence. Send your details to John Allen at or drop off a brief CV to the Red Lion, and they’ll get back to you promptly.



Finally, an early reminder that The Black Horse Hotel is holding a music night in aid of Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice, on Saturday the 11th of November, starting at 19:30.



Bob Brook

OPC Secretary

30 October 2017

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