Recent figures for the number of pub closures each week paint a gloomy future for Britain’s favourite establishments.
But, in a bid to reverse that, a local branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) are launching a new initiative which urges drinkers to take to the trams to visit a host of pubs.
Trafford & Hulme CAMRA are publishing two free guides to increase exposure for pubs along Manchester’s growing tram network.
Seven thousand of the pocket sized guides show pubs within easy walking distance of stations along the Altrincham and South Manchester lines.
The branch’s John O'Donnell said "The guides are about encouraging people to support the great British pub. Thousands of people use the tram network every day to get to and from work but it's also great for getting out and about at other times.”
Fifteen pubs are featured along the Altrincham line with a further eight in the town centre.
The Guardian’s Food Monthly blog recently highlighted Altrincham as the best place for a pub crawl, saying ‘most remarkable – considering the town’s mere 40,000 population – is the cluster of three specialist beer bars: the Brew House, subterranean beer-boudoir; Mort Subite, off licence Bier Cell; and the Belgian Bar. If you’re on a (civilised) crawl, it could not be more convenient’.
The opening of the South Manchester line in July last year connected the tram network to Chorlton, an area bucking the trend in pub closures with a vibrant mix of bars and pubs lining the high street.
With more tram lines being developed further, CAMRA are encouraging other local branches to do the same, hoping that in the near future there will be a whole network of ‘Take the Tram’ projects.
CAMRA originally published a guide to pubs along the Altrincham line when it first opened in 1992 and somewhat surprisingly all the pubs featured 20 years ago are still open.
However, Mr O’Donnell warns of taking our pubs for granted.
He said: “Use your pubs! It’s use them or lose them, because once they’re gone there’s less chance of them coming back.”
This was sadly the case for The Bricklayers Arms in Altrincham, which shut down last week. The 200 year old site served its last pint, which Mr O’Donnell said was ‘simply a case of not making enough money and having to subsidise the business out of their [the management] own pocket’.
Beer duty has now reached an unsustainable £1.05 per pint. At 12 times the duty level in Germany, Britain’s beer drinkers are now paying 40 per cent of the entire EU duty bill despite only drinking 13 per cent of the beer. CAMRA’s 135,000 members have taken it upon themselves to support and promote good pubs and real ale, lobbying the government into backing the future of local pubs.
The government’s controversial beer duty ‘escalator’ is likely to cause the loss of 16,000 jobs for people working in pubs, so it really is worthwhile supporting CAMRA in their mission to save your local.