A number of great British traditions are dying and it can all be linked back to one thing – The Government. Not just the current one, this is something Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives can all take the blame for.
It all started with alcohol, the death of the local public house. Sure, there are still pubs, but there are not as many and they are not what the used to be. Over 4500 Uk pubs have closed down since 2008. In reality I am too young to remember properly the ‘old’ pub lifestyle. I wasn’t one of those kids who grew up in a ‘pub’ family. My parents rarely frequented the local smoke-filled bars, but I am aware of what these places were like to a degree.
There used to be a pub on every other street corner (well almost, lol) when I was a kid. A ‘Golden Mile’ would consist of 16-20 (or more) pubs within a mile walk – a heavy night out if you drank in each one. Now not many places can say they even have a golden mile, the majority of pubs having closed down, even being knocked down or turned into McDonalds in many areas.
You used to be able to give people directions based on the nearest pubs as landmarks “Turn right at the Duke of York and it’s just past The Green Man…”. For those of us who remember these landmarks, even if they are long since gone will still refer to them to direct others “You remember where the Red Lion used to be? It’s just on the left past there…”
The decline in this traditional industry (which dates back to Roman times) started back in the 1990’s (from what I can tell). This was when I first started to notice pubs closing down. Being an 80’s kid (born in the 70’s) I remember seeing these busy centres of the community thriving in the 80’s. Only to start disappearing in the 90’s as I was reaching the age most people started frequenting such establishments. Even then my lifestyle was no one which caused me to follow that group of peers, yeah I participated in under-age drinking, most of us teenagers did, but I was part of those groups that started drinking on the streets.
Since 2009 the number of pubs has declined even more steeply year on year. There are a number of reasons for the decline:
- Increasing taxes, to the level that now over a third of the cost of a pint of beer is tax.
- Changes in licensing laws introduced in 2003, that came into force in 2005 meant that while licensing hours could now be extended the old tradition of Lock-in‘s after hours became something that could cost the publican their license.
- Related to the licensing laws the increased pressure of identifying the age of customers with the threat of fines, criminal charges and loss of licences make pub staff ever more vigilant and careful about whom they will serve, no ID no drink. The think 25 campaign means many customers over the age of 18 are constantly pestered for ID. I’m not saying this is a bad thing per se, but it puts customers off. Teenagers are going to get access to alcohol, if they want it, by some means. doing so in a relatively safe environment, the pub, rather than drinking on street corners or at house parties is surely better for all concerned?
- In 2007 the Smoking ban came into force which meant you could no longer smoke indoors, another blow for the pub industry.
- Changes in the drink-driving laws also had an impact as customers were being stopped the following morning after a night out and being arrested for still being over the limit, so they stopped going out so much.
- And then there’s the supermarkets, not regulated so heavily on taxing and licensing, meaning the sell alcohol at a fraction of the cost pubs can. People are not drinking less they are just buying it cheaper and drinking it in different, less sociable places.
I have spent a lot of time talking about the death of pubs, but this post state’s ‘Great British Traditions’ so why the focus on pubs? Well, that is because the other traditions that I see dying off are linked to this.
From the late night eatery’s, a kebab and chips at the chippy after the pub closes, to traditional pub games, such as Darts and Pool. Britain is losing a lot more than just it’s pubs as a backlash of the changes and decline of the industry. Many pubs have their own teams for darts, pool, football and other traditional games, as well as more recent introductions such as poker and video games. Quiz nights, and live music are also regular features in many pubs.
For a new band starting out getting a gig in a local pub is a good starting point for gaining interest and recognition.
A pub is a great place to socialise, you don’t have to drink alcohol all the time.
In our local pub we have four pool teams playing in the local league. A dart board, football table also draw in a number of customers. Live music, discos and poker nights are also regular features. There are a number of other pubs near by but we choose to frequent this one because of the facilities, entertainment and people. Without it we would be stuck with places that do not offer the same level of entertainment, just selling alcohol is not enough, it is not the alcohol which draws us in, but without the alcohol the pub would not exist and we would lose all those other things that matter more to us. Wetherspoons are great, but they don’t have dart boards or pool tables, the atmosphere is not the same as a ‘local’!
Pubs are not just places frequented by chavs and dole-bludgers, they are no places we would be better off without. They are places that are integral to community and tradition. And we need to fight to help them survive!
CAMRA the Campaign for Real Ale is running a petition to ‘Save your Pint‘ because the tax increases that threaten our pubs (and jobs and traditions) are continuing to rise. Sign the petition to help save your local and preserve Great British Traditions for the next generation to enjoy as we have!
What do you think?
Would you miss your local pub?
What is it that draws you to your local pub?
- The Great British pub fights back! (independent.co.uk)
- Creating a good atmosphere is a fine art, but vitally important in pubs in order to make people feel welcome. (mysterydining.com)
- Do you want your local to be a barber shop as well as a bar, or do you expect your pub to be a pub and nothing else? (mysterydining.com)
- Calling all customers who want cheaper beer… (thatchersbeerblog.wordpress.com)
- Are calls to freeze beer duty the answer or do pubs need to do more to help themselves stay in business? (mysterydining.com)
- Could Big Society plans help pub insurance customers? (premierlinedirect.co.uk)
- Ten of the Best Edinburgh Ale Spots (aletotheking.wordpress.com)
- Pub insurance customers ‘suffering due to lack of demand’ (premierlinedirect.co.uk)
- Beer ties ‘work for pub insurance holders’ (premierlinedirect.co.uk)
- Pubco tie ‘should be abolished’ (premierlinedirect.co.uk)
- Simon English: Cheers, Tim. You’ve got a point about pubs (independent.co.uk)
- Pub beer sales down 7.5% in 2010 (premierlinedirect.co.uk)
- Economic Crisis Calls Time on British Pubs (voanews.com)
- Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: Pubs will stay open until 1am (dailymail.co.uk)
- In a pub (taramcateer.wordpress.com)
- Britons prefer pubs within stumbling distance (upi.com)
- A barrel of laughs: The weird and whacky pub signs that will make you look twice (dailymail.co.uk)
- Last orders for British pubs? (itv.com)
- British Brewery Campaigning To Save Traditional Pubs (gadling.com)
- Best of British! (thelocalfoodie.wordpress.com)
- Rate of pub closures is slowing (bbc.co.uk)
- An open letter to George Osborne (thatchersbeerblog.wordpress.com)
- Pubs and d (borneotraveladvisor.wordpress.com)