At this year’s Otley Victorian Fayre, Otley Pub Club once again invited all the pubs in town to enter the Victorian spirit by taking part in the Elise Brumfitt Victorian Alehouse competition. Landladies and landlords and their staff dressed up in period costume for the day, and Christmas decorations were on display in the pubs. Members of the Otley Pub Club committee then had the onerous task of visiting each of the participating pubs, to decide which one they thought best expressed the spirit, the atmosphere and the appearance of a Victorian Alehouse. At least one of them looks as sober as a judge should in the attached photo!
According to Pub Club secretary Bob Brook, the standard seems to be getting higher every year, and the pubs more competitive, so choosing a winner is getting more difficult. “The amazing thing is that everyone looks so comfortable in their costumes, and seems to enjoy taking part.” he said. “ I really want to thank them all for putting the additional time and effort into this competition, on what is probably their busiest day of the year. We tried to be as objective as possible this year, setting categories for scoring before we set off. But even then it was really close in the end. Tim and Sarah at Whitakers looked as though they’d just walked off the front of a Victorian Christmas card; their bar staff were in costume too; and Santa’s grotto with presents, snow, and twinkling ‘star’ lights on the ceiling was the finishing touch.”
“The Old Cock were in second place, with terrific Victorian outfits once again, which means they haven’t been out of the top two for the last three years. The Bowling Green and The Horse and Farrier were both highly commended by the judges, and both The Black Horse and The Horse and Farrier were only a whisker behind. In fact the judges chose Chris from the Horse and Farrier as the first winner of a new award this year – the best dressed Victorian alehouse individual! Photo shows him and two other Victorian ‘Gents’ – the pipe and monocle and ‘rakish’ attitude were perfect!”
The Victorian Alehouse Trophy was handed over to Whitakers on the day, and the photos show them with it outside their pub. Certificates for them and for Chris will be provided later – all to be proudly displayed until the Fayre comes round again next year.
[The award is named after the late Otley resident and historian Elise Brumfitt, who was not only a Pub Club committee member, but also researched the history of all Otley’s current and previous pubs. Some of her findings appear on The Historic Otley Ale Trail, which shows the locations of all the lost and existing pubs on a map of Otley, and is available from the Library and all the pubs in town.