Branch & Local News 2017
For the second year running it is pleasing to report that there has been an increase in the number of pubs in the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch area. In 2016 the number of new pubs opening has once again exceeded the number of pubs that have closed down. As far as we are aware, there were six pubs that closed in 2016 - the Angel, Preston, the Boars Head, Barton, the Leigh Arms & Station, Chorley, the Moor Inn, Chorley, the Myerscough, Balderstone, and the Tithebarn, Preston. Also closing down was the Korova Arts Cafe & Bar, Preston, but there are plans that this particular business may yet re-open in the near future at another location. By all accounts 2016 was certainly a bumper year for pub openings, with the Guild Ale House, Preston starting things off when opening in February. This was followed by the Mill At Charnock Farm, Leyland, the Golden Tap Ale House, Leyland, the Ale Station, Chorley, Bootleggers, Chorley, the Haighton Manor, Haighton, the Cuckoo's Nest, Chorley, the Tap & Vent, Longridge, Hoppy Days, Longridge, and most recently Filling Factory No 1, Buckshaw Village. Admittedly most of these new pubs are micropubs, but there can be no denying that 2016 has seen a significant increase in real ale availability in the Central Lancashire branch area.
**March 2017 Update - After one or two conflicting rumours, the Angel has now re-opened.
On January 19th there was a branch meeting and social held at the Golden Tap Ale House, Leyland. This particular venue had been chosen for the first branch meeting of the year with it having been selected as the CAMRA Central Lancashire 'Pub of the Season' for Winter 2016/17. On the night the pub was packed to the rafters, with there being very little 'meeting' but plenty of 'social'. A dozen or so local CAMRA members were there for the proceedings, while also present on the night were the brewers from Crankshaft Brewery, Leyland's own microbrewery. Pictured above is landlord James Brennan (left) as he is presented with the Pub of the Season certificate by CAMRA Central Lancashire Chairman Dave Bell.
One week later and it was time for another presentation. As was reported in December the Malt 'n' Hops, Chorley was voted the winner of the 2016/17 George Lee Memorial Trophy award at the Christmas branch meeting. On January 26th a good turn out of CAMRA Central Lancashire branch members and friends were in attendance at a social held there to celebrate the event, and pictured above is landlord John Grainger (right) as he is presented with the George Lee Memorial Trophy Shield by the new Ale Cry Editor Adrian Smith.
. . . . . . .
At the CAMRA Central Lancashire committee meeting held on February 6th important decisions were made on selecting the branch's Club of the Year and Cider Pub of the Year winners for 2017. After much deliberation it was decided that the Club of the Year for 2017 should be the Broughton & District Club, while the Cider Pub of the Year for 2017 should be the Shepherds' Hall Ale House, Chorley (pictured above when displaying a banner for the Pub of the Year award it won in 2016). Already decided is the choice for the branch's Pub of the Year for 2017, which is the current GLMT winner, the Malt 'n' Hops, Chorley. These three branch award winners for 2017 now become the branch's nominations to go forward for consideration in the corresponding Lancashire Area and West Pennines Regional awards. Good luck to all three - surely we are due a winner?
On February 23rd CAMRA Central Lancashire branch members were out in force for a social during which it was the intention that participants would visit a selection of the micropubs that have been established in Chorley. Meeting at the Shepherds' Hall Ale House, Chorley, there was an informal presentation (pictured), with former branch chairman Adrian Smith handing over a certificate to Tom Hardyman to commemorate his pub having been the branch's George Lee Memorial Trophy holder in 2016. Following this, those present dispersed, with people visiting the Cuckoo's Nest, Chorley (then known as the D'Owd Inn), the Ale Station, Chorley, and Bootleggers, Chorley.
. . . . . . .
March 1st was the official publication date for Ale Cry 114, the Spring 2017 issue of the branch's quarterly magazine. We hope our many regular readers will like this particular edition of Ale Cry, which for the first time has become the responsibility of an Editorial Panel, and which as the Chairman's Welcome says 'now has a new, fresh look and feel'. As well as looking a little different, our re-vamped Ale Cry has several articles appearing for the first time (like Brewery News, My Pint Of View, and Ciderman), while many of the old favourites (like Chorley Chatter, Preston Parade, and Riley's Rambles) have also been retained. Two Chorley pubs are prominently featured, the Malt 'n' Hops, Chorley which is the branch's George Lee Memorial Trophy winner (Pub of the Year) for 2017, and the Bob Inn, Chorley which is the branch's Pub of the Season for Spring 2017. In the coming weeks look out for copies of Ale Cry 114 in your local pub or club - and we will be interested to receive your comments on its new appearance.
. . . . . . .
The Emporium, Chorley (now the Encore, Chorley) is the first new pub to open in the branch area in 2017. Formerly the Theatre Kitchen restaurant & bar (which closed in January), it has now re-opened as a pub although there remains a strong emphasis on the food side. The Emporium has up to four real ales available at any one time, and initially was selling beers predominantly from local breweries. Later in the month Fives, Preston was another 'new' pub appearing in the branch area, this being a pub that had re-opened after having been closed for over 10 years. No real ale as yet, but it is hoped that in future there will be some on offer when the basement bar eventually also comes into use.
On April 12th there was a devastating fire at the Grill & Grain At The Boatyard, Riley Green. This is the pub that was previously known as the Boatyard, and which re-opened under its new guise as recently as November 2016 after a £1 million refurbishment. The Grill & Grain was notable in that it was the first Thwaites pub to be re-launched with its own on-site micro-brewery. This was a great asset for the branch area, although realistically many local CAMRA members will yet to have sampled their beers. The pub is closed and would appear to have an uncertain future such is the damage.
**May 2017 Update - Thwaites Brewery have pledged that they will rebuild the pub and restore it to its former glory.
April 22nd was a big day for local CAMRA presentations with two taking place. The first of these presentations took place at the Bob Inn, Chorley at 2.30pm, with the pub having been chosen as the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch Pub of the Season for Spring 2017. On a bright sunny afternoon there was a good turn-out of CAMRA members and pub regulars in attendance to see branch Chairman Dave Bell present the certificate to licensee Steve Cooney.
One hour later, and many of those who had been at the Bob Inn were now assembling for the second presentation at the Shepherds' Hall Ale House, Chorley, the pub which had been chosen as the CAMRA Central Lancashire Cider Pub of the Year for 2017. The Shepherds' Hall Ale House was the branch's Pub of the Season for Autumn 2015 and the branch's Pub of the Year for 2016, and now as Cider Pub of the Year it becomes the first pub to have been honoured with all three possible branch awards. Admittedly on the day we were a bit low on cider drinkers, with the majority deciding to stick to the cask ales that were on offer. Pictured is Chairman Dave Bell after making the presentation to Stuart Hardyman, while on the wall can be seen the two certificates that had previously been presented to the pub.
. . . . . . .
On May 25th CAMRA Central Lancashire branch held a 'chairman's special' games social at the Broughton & District Club, which just so happened to also be the branch's choice as Club of the Year for 2017. On what was the warmest day of the year (so far) there was the required turn-out of members for five games of crown green bowls to take place simultaneously. After this rare bit of physical activity, everyone went indoors for a pie and peas supper and to sample the two LocAle beers that were on offer. The social was voted a great success by all those in attendance, while also on the night there was a presentation of the Club of the Year certificate, and pictured above is club president Clive Turner, branch chairman Dave Bell (centre with certificate), and club steward Mel Lunn.
CAMRA's Lancashire Pub of the Year and Lancashire Club of the Year winners for 2017 have now both been announced, and this year it is pleasing to report that the branch has had some success. As well as being the CAMRA Central Lancashire Pub of the Year for 2017, the Malt 'n' Hops, Chorley has been judged the Pub of the Year for the whole of Lancashire for 2017. This is a great honour for a pub that was re-opened as recently as November 2015 after a lengthy closure, and it is only the branch's second success in this award in the last 16 years. Unfortunately our nomination for the Lancashire Club of the Year, the Broughton & District Club, was unsuccessful, the winner being Silverdale Golf Club, the nomination of CAMRA Lunesdale branch. Interestingly you have to go back to 2002 to find the last CAMRA Central Lancashire based club to actually win this award, the now defunct Ashton Institute & Social Club.
. . . . . . .
June 1st was the official publication date for Ale Cry 115, the Summer 2017 issue of the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch quarterly magazine. This is the second edition of the magazine to be produced by the branch's new Editorial Panel, and once again they have concentrated their efforts on improving the content and overall appearance of the publication. In this edition there is plenty of news about pubs and clubs in our area, as well as information on upcoming beer festivals. In particular the Princess Alice, Preston is revealed as the branch's latest Pub of the Season, the Black Bull, Penwortham is featured in the second of the 'My Pint Of View' articles, while an extended 'Riley's Rambles' looks at a selection of the best pubs in Bolton. Keep your eyes peeled for a copy of Ale Cry 115 in a pub or club near you.
On June 17th the annual CAMRA Lancashire branches social was held in Chorley. This was the second time in three years that CAMRA Central Lancashire branch had hosted this event, and with it having become something of a centre of excellence for micropubs and beer choice in the county, Chorley was certainly a most suitable location for the social. The first port of call for most CAMRA members was the Malt 'n' Hops, Chorley, which (as you can read elsewhere on this webpage) was recently named CAMRA's Lancashire Pub of the Year for 2017. On the day a presentation took place, with CAMRA Lancashire Area Organiser John Webster handing landlord John Grainger the Tony Buller Shield for him to hold for the next 12 months (Pictured above is landlord John with the shield, while alongside him CAMRA Central Lancashire Social Secretary Wes Truran holds a certificate also presented to commemorate the award, photograph courtesy Daniel Derbyshire). This being a social, participating CAMRA members were soon on the move, visiting a selection of Chorley's other premier real ale outlets (see Chorley Pub Crawl). All told there were about 30 CAMRA members present, and as well as local members there were representatives from CAMRA Blackpool Fylde & Wyre, CAMRA East Lancashire, CAMRA Lunesdale, and CAMRA Southport & West Lancashire branches.
. . . . . . .
On July 27th CAMRA Central Lancashire held a branch social at the Princess Alice, Preston, the pub which had been chosen as the branch's Pub of the Season for Summer 2017. Despite a heavy rainfall, the social was a great success, with about 15-20 CAMRA members in attendance, as well as a good number of locals present on the night to show their support to the winning pub. With as many as 15 televisions showing sports the Princess Alice can properly be described as a 'sports bar', but with four handpumps serving interesting beers it can also rightly be described as a pub for the real ale drinker. Pictured above is CAMRA Central Lancashire branch chairman Dave Bell holding the Pub of the Season certificate, along with licensees Graham and Sue from the Princess Alice.
While 2016 was a boom year for the emergence of microbreweries in the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch area, 2017 has until now been quiet with little of note to report. This has all changed now with the news that Providence Brewery of Bamber Bridge is at last up and running and has produced its first beer for public sale. There have been whispers about this possible new brewery for quite some time, and their beer Gold Standard (4%) was one of 19 draught beers available over the July 14th-16th weekend at Beer Aid at the Encore, Chorley. This event was a beer and music festival arranged to help raise money for new seating at the nearby Chorley Little Theatre. However Providence Brewery (actually initially misnamed as Provenance Brewery) was not the only Central Lancashire brewery represented, as there were beers from Hart Of Preston Brewery, Hubsters Brewery, Priest Town Brewing (bottles only), Rivington Brewing Company, and Withnell's Brewery also available.
. . . . . . .
August has seen the closure of three pubs in the branch area. At the beginning of the month the Unicorn, Preston was closed, being acquisitioned by the developers of the neighbouring former Canterbury Hall site which is set to become the location for a new student accommodation building. The understanding is that the Unicorn will be used as the site office while building work progresses, but that once this is complete the premises will revert back and again become a pub. Whether this actually happens, we will have to wait and see. The Unicorn is one of Preston's pubs with quite a history. At one time known as the Cattle Market (the original Preston cattle market being close by), it was for many years an outlet for the long defunct Whittle Springs Brewery. There have been rumours of long-disused tunnels leading from the pub, which was once informally known as the 'old football house', having had strong connections with Preston North End in their early days.
A couple of weeks later it was announced that the Sumpter Horse, Penwortham would be closing at the end of August. This is a pub that has long been under the threat of demolition, with the builders Bovis Homes wanting it out of the way so that it could be replaced with an access road to their new housing estate. The Sumpter Horse was unique in that it was the only pub in the whole country which had this name, and like the Unicorn was formerly a Whittle Springs Brewery pub. When first announced there was a resistance against the closure, but a public inquiry failed to find in favour of the pub being retained. Surely there was enough room for both the pub and the road?
A third pub to close this month is the D'Owd Inn, Chorley. This may come as quite a surprise, as it is one of the new breed of micropubs that have been opening in recent years. The D'Owd Inn is actually less than a year old, having opened as recently as October 2016, at the time becoming the fifth micropub to open in Chorley town centre. All being well this is not the end for the D'Owd Inn. There are 'business for lease' signs currently in place, and it is hoped that the pub may yet re-open.
**October 2017 Update - The D'Owd Inn now has new owners and has re-opened as the Cuckoo's Nest, Chorley.
While August may have seen a spate of pub closures, there was one pub in the area which re-opened after seemingly looking to be consigned to the history books. The Dog Inn, Longridge closed in 2009 and subsequently became the Indian Lounge, a restaurant providing eastern cuisine. When the restaurant closed, ambitious plans were announced that the premises would once again become a pub and that the upper floors would be used to house five one-bedroom apartments. Building work went on for months, with the pub eventually having a trial opening in July, but on August 2nd it was officially re-opened as a 'local dog-friendly gastropub'. It has to be said that the 'reborn' pub is looking very impressive, and as an added attraction it is also selling a good range of handpumped cask beers.
. . . . . . .
September 1st was the official publication date for Ale Cry 116, the Autumn 2017 issue of the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch quarterly magazine. This is the third edition of the magazine to be produced by the branch's five strong Editorial Panel, and once again they have managed to come up with a publication that includes a great selection of varied and interesting articles. Of particular interest Hoppy Days, Longridge is revealed as the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch Pub of the Season for Autumn 2017, while Beer Brothers Brewery is featured in the My Pint Of View article. As usual there are the regular Chorley Chatter, Preston Parade, and South Ribble Scene news articles, and this time round the magazine includes a front cover photograph and centre page spread featuring the Black Horse, Preston, the branch's premier heritage pub.
September 14th was a most important date in the CAMRA calendar with it seeing the official publication of the 2018 Good Beer Guide. An essential purchase for those wanting to discover the very best of real ale pubs in all parts of the country, this year's edition (which is actually the 45th edition of the guide) features 34 pubs from the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch area as chosen by local members.
. . . . . . .
On October 19th CAMRA Central Lancashire held a branch social at Hoppy Days, Longridge, the pub which had been chosen as the branch's Pub of the Season for Autumn 2017. This is a most impressive achievement for owners Peace and Adam Townsend as they have only just celebrated it being one year since the micropub first opened. In what is one of the smallest pubs in the branch area, there was a good turn out of branch members and friends, and a great time was had by all. On the night there was a presentation, and pictured above is Peace Townsend with CAMRA Central Lancashire branch Chairman Dave Bell holding the Pub of the Season certificate.
On this website you will often read of pub closures, but in more than five years since the site came into existence you will not have read anything about clubs that have closed. Unfortunately this has all changed, with two clubs in our branch area (which were both selling real ale) recently ceasing to trade. Early in September, the 55th Division Association Club, Preston closed its doors for the last time, and then just a couple of weeks later Ingol Village Golf Club was also closed. Hopefully it will be at least another five years before we have any further news of club closures. The good news is that there are still more than 50 clubs in the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch area that are selling real ale - see Local Clubs Guide for more information.
At the end of September the branch gained a new real ale outlet with the opening of Wings & Beer Co, Preston. This is a Sports Bar and American Restaurant housed in premises that in recent years had been occupied by a succession of café and steak bar businesses, namely the Ocean Bar & Grill, the Steakout, the Cow Bar And Grill, and Café Med. When known as the Cow Bar And Grill, some people may remember this as being the venue for a Beer Festival in May 2013. The newly launched Wings & Beer Co is selling three handpumped beers (initially these included Bowland Hen Harrier and Lancaster Chestnut Red), and one handpumped cider.
. . . . . . .
Regular viewers of the branch's Facebook page will have noticed that there has been a new feature introduced whereby CAMRA Central Lancashire branch are showcasing a real ale Pub of the Week (here a 'week' is loosely defined as being 'at least seven days'). It must be explained that this is not a formal branch award as such, as the chosen pub will be selected on a random basis by one of our many Facebook savvy committee members. With this the objective, the first Pub of the Week was determined by use of a set of bingo balls, with the Wheatsheaf, Ashton being the pub that came out of the hat first. Obviously we are not wanting the individual Pub of the Week decisions to come under too much scrutiny, but hopefully this will be a way for the branch to give a little bit of publicity to some of the many fine real ale pubs in the branch area which have not been getting the credit they deserve.
**November 2017 Update - The bingo balls have been out again and have indicated that the branch's second Pub of the Week is the Sea View, Whittle-le-Woods. Look out for further announcements on the branch's Facebook page.
Latest news from Chorley is that there have recently been three pub closures. The Black Horse, Chorley has closed and now has an uncertain future; the Parkers Arms, Chorley has closed and is to become an Indian restaurant; while the Sebastopol, Chorley has closed and is also to be converted into an eating establishment. Ironically these out of town pub closures come at a time when Chorley's town centre is continuing to benefit with the opening of a succession of micropubs and small bars. The latest newcomer is the The Shed, Chorley, which opened at the beginning of November, and which as its name suggests is internally decorated in the style of a garden shed.
As the caption says - CAMRA Members, What is your pint like? There are over 200 real ale outlets in the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch area, and inevitably we do not know how they are all performing on a week-to-week basis. In order to get as much information as possible on pubs and beer quality, we are always interested in hearing the views of CAMRA members. The rating of beers can be done using WhatPub (for further information see the Beer Scoring page). This is especially important at the present time as the branch is about to commence work on selecting the 2019 Good Beer Guide entries.
. . . . . . .
December 1st was the official publication date for Ale Cry 117, the Winter 2017 edition of the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch quarterly magazine. We are hoping that you will find that this 32 page issue contains a good variety of articles, with there also being plenty to read about the pubs and clubs in the branch area. Of particular interest the Ale Station, Chorley is revealed as the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch Pub of the Season for Winter 2017/18, while Peace Townsend from Hoppy Days, Longridge is interviewed in the My Pint Of View article. As usual there are the regular Chorley Chatter, Preston Parade, and South Ribble Scene news articles, while this issue also includes write-ups on the pubs of Carnforth, Ulverston, and nearer to home Buckshaw Village.
There is an interesting event planned to take place at the Hoppy Days, Longridge micropub over the December 8th-10th weekend. Our Autumn 2017 Pub of the Season winner is to host a 'Meet The Newer Brewer' tap takeover event whereby five of the newer microbrewers in the area will take turns to be in attendance for people to learn about and sample their beers. Over the weekend there will be five local microbreweries represented (Crankshaft Brewery, Beer Brothers Brewery, and Partridge Brewing Company from the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch area) plus Northern Monkey Brew Co (of Bolton) and Farm Yard Ales (of Cockerham). For more information see the Hoppy Days facebook page.
It may be late in the year, but we have news of two new real ale outlets that have recently opened in the CAMRA Central Lancashire branch area. The Beer Brothers Brewery & Bar, Walton Summit had a ticket-only launch night on November 24th, and is now fully up and running and open to the public. It is currently open 12 noon to 10pm Fridays and Saturdays only and is selling a good range of Beer Brothers beers that are brewed on the premises. The second new real ale outlet opened on December 14th, and is the Tap & T'ales, Goosnargh. Described as a 'crafty freehouse', this is yet another micropub we are pleased to see established in the branch area, being housed in a former antique furniture shop on Whittingham Lane. Our understanding is that it will be selling a good selection of real ales similar to those on offer at its sister micropub the Tap & Vent in Longridge (which itself was opened just a year ago)
On December 14th CAMRA Central Lancashire Branch held its Christmas Meeting & Social at the Black Horse in Preston. There were 23 local CAMRA members and friends present on the night, and as in previous years the occasion was more branch social than branch meeting with formalities being kept to a minimum. By popular demand, this year the Christmas Quiz had been restored, and following tradition there was also the usual raffle which meant that few people went home empty handed. Most importantly this was the occasion for the voting for the George Lee Memorial Trophy (GLMT) award. For almost 40 years the GLMT has been the branch's premier annual award, with it being made to the pub, organisation, or person that branch members consider to have done the most for real ale locally during the previous year. There were six nominations for the 2017-18 award, with the vote resulting in a victory for Hoppy Days, Longridge. For the second year running second place went to the Guild Ale House, Preston, while the Black Horse, Preston, the Golden Tap Ale House, Leyland, the Masons Arms, Chorley, and the Old Vic, Preston were the other nominations which also received votes. A great achievement as Hoppy Days has been open for only 14 months, yet already this year it had been rewarded by being the branch's Autumn 2017 Pub of the Season winner. Congratulations go to owners Peace and Adam Townsend. Hoppy Days becomes only the second winner of the GLMT award from Longridge - the first being the Forrest Arms in 1996-97. The GLMT shield will be presented at a social to be held at Hoppy Days on February 1st 2018. See Branch Diary 2018.
. . . . . . .