Today’s Morning advertiser has an interview with David Grant (loved his work with Jackie Graham on Todd Rundgren’s ‘mated’)* of Moorhouse’s Brewery talking about the demise of the ‘traditional pub’.
This is something that has bugged me for a little while. It is one of those terms (almost as bad as ‘craft’ preceding the word beer) that seems to get thrown around but not really understood. The implications with the phrase traditional pub is one of the good old days when pubs were ‘real’ ‘proper’ pubs. Fine. So when was this exactly?
I say this because to have any meaning the ‘traditional pub’ has to pick a point in time when this perception of these real and proper pubs existed. Are we talking about the smoke filed pubs of the 70s with a bar (mostly for the men) and a separate ‘Lounge’ area for the ladies? Maybe 19th century ‘Beer houses’ where you were basically in someone’s living room, drinking from a tapped barrel on a table? What is your point of reference? If you were born in the 90’s a tradition pub to you might well be an ALL Bar One. If you were born in the 1930’s it might be an immediately ‘post-war’ pub that you see as ‘traditional’.
Your making it more difficult that it needs to be you say. Really it’s simple: It’s a pub, not a BAR. But a lot of these ‘pubs’ HAD and possibly still have ‘bars’ – see my 70s point above, so it’s not that simple.
Maybe it’s just pubs that aren’t part of a big chain? Only that wouldn’t really fit in with many of those looking back to their vision of the traditional pubs in the days when they were all owned by breweries. They were chain pubs. At least until the late 80s when the government stepped in to cut the brewers’ pub monopoly. In reality this was merely the start of pubs moving from all being owned and controlled by the breweries to a situation where they were all owned and controlled by Pubco’s instead. Different name, but much the same outcome if you ran a pub.
Am I just being contrary? Maybe I am. I grew up in pubs – in pubs that many would probably describe as ‘traditional’. I do understand what people are trying to say when they profess a love of the ‘traditional’ pub. It’s often based on that idea, that cozy village pub, real fire, low beamed roof, that is the heart of the local community. Yes? No?
My point is that my traditional pub is not necessarily your traditional pub or David Grant’s traditional pub, for me it is entirely dependent on your age and your points of reference.
*It’s not THAT David Grant.