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Issue 58 – June 2005


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EDITORIAL Hop Press index

This edition of Hop Press returns to a melancholy theme that never seems far away — the insatiable desire of breweries to devour each other in the quest for corporate growth.

The villain in this instance is the already huge Wolverhampton and Dudley Brewery which is making a bid for the Jennings Brewery at Cockermouth in Cumbria. Hampshire readers will be familiar with W and D's activities from their take-over of Marstons a few years ago and the subsequent wheeling and dealing to trade it off to their rival 'national independent' Greene King.

Since then W and D have grown to over 2000 pubs. The latest increase being the absorption of Cheshire based Burtonwood Brewery with its 450 pub estate, which was only finalised this January.

Jennings attractiveness must be assumed to be the estate of 130 good quality tenanted pubs, rather than the brewery. Although the 175 year old brewery has only just completed a £1m modernisation programme, its remote location in Cockermouth makes it very difficult to incorporate into a national distribution network. Beside which, W and D do not at present need more brewing capacity. Of course they have issued the obligatory " continued operation of the brewery and development of the business is key " type statement that we have become so familiar with over the years of take-over battles

CAMRA owns over 1% of the Jennings share capital and apart from a 24% holding that Stockport brewers, Robinsons pledged to W and D before the bid became public, most of the rest is owned by small shareholders living locally; for once 'the institutions' cannot wield their malign influence. CAMRA is writing to all these shareholders stressing the local impact of a possible brewery closure — despite the 24% from Robinsons and support from the somewhat wishy-washy Jennings board we are hopeful of building a sufficient platform of local opposition.

November, when the new Licensing Act finally comes fully into force, approaches inexorably. It is a bit early to assess progress but there are certainly some worrying signs.

During the next few months, by August, every pub, club and off-licence must complete a many page form to reregister their licences or certificates. Locally we hear that of the first few submitted to both Winchester and Fareham districts, more than half were rejected as wrongly filled in, not an auspicious start

On the political front all three parties, egged on by a sensation seeking tabloid press, seem to have succumbed to a mood of fearful apprehension — aghast at the enormity of their action in daring to pass such legislation! All sides are devising panicky second thought plans to forestall an imagined onset of twenty-four hour non-stop binge drinking.. 'Imagined' is the keyword that no one seems to consider, since there is absolutely no evidence in the details of the new law that any such greatly extended drinking will actually take place.

Although any premises can apply for any hours they like, there are many, many hurdles that would have to be jumped before any extreme set of hours were allowed. Even if a pub could meet the various conditions required it is unlikely that many could make a sensible case to their accountants to make it worthwhile.

The binge drinking problem, and of course it is a serious problem, has nothing to do with the licensing law, either the present mishmash dating in parts from Victoria's reign, or the new 2003 Act. It is entirely the fault of marketing men from the major brewers and 'pubcos.'

In the 1970s brewers discovered marketing and marketing men discovered behavioural psychology. It dawned on them that young male groups, especially if with a lesser number of females, would exhibit competitive behaviour and that this could be channelled into ways of relieving them of much money for rubbishy but heavily advertised products. From here on it was all downhill. Venues were revamped to only attract the 18 (allegedly) to 25 olds, advertising majored on the new concept of 'blokeishness' and tills rang merrily.

The success of this next led to the theming of venues into easily recognisable, uniform brands which inevitably meant that every brand chain then had to be represented in competing venues next door to each other and so the 'High Street circuits' that we have today were created. The mayhem that can result was entirely predictable and is ultimately due to the cupidity of the brewers, and now more so, the pubcos

The changes being brought in by the new licensing legislation will not make any great difference to this situation, either for good or bad, only a change of attitude by the bar and pub owning companies will help. Unfortunately it is not at all easy to see if the tide could now be rolled back, almost certainly adoption of any 'voluntary industry codes' will be doomed to failure. A few concrete proposals might include elimination of vertical drinking barns in favour of multi-roomed, all seater bars; outlawing cut-price bulk sales of communal 'buckets' or jugs of drinks of uncertain strength and discouraging sales of drinks designed only to induce drunkenness — the shots to be gulped competitively for example. It would be a start anyway.

Finally, from Eastern Europe, by Internet of course, a tale of beer's powers with all the hallmarks of the classic urban myth…

A Slovak man was trapped recently in his car after it was buried in an avalanche, but by good fortune he had 60 bottles of beer with him. Rescue teams found Richard Kral staggering drunk along the mountain road four days after his Audi was engulfed. When sober enough to be interviewed he said: "I was scooping the snow from above me and packing it down below the window and then I peed on it to melt it. It was hard and now my kidneys and liver hurt, but I'm glad that the beer I took on holiday turned out to be able to get me out."


WALKING & DRINKING (2) Hop Press index

Ray Massey

Rivers are a good ingredient for walks. When I think of local rivers, I immediately think of the Test and the Itchen. Speaking as a Romsey man I find the Test very poor for walking, whilst the Itchen is excellent along most of its length. I cannot explain this difference; I used to think it was due to the Itchen having a Navigation, but there was a somewhat similar Andover Canal running up the Test Valley. ( Hampshire Waterways by P A L Vine is a short, recommended book on both.) The Navigation has two benefits for walkers: it increased public access to the river, and in some cases provides an alternative route. So here is a three mile circular walk south from Winchester along the Navigation, returning along the river via St. Cross, and crucially, passing a reasonable variety of good pubs on the way.

The walk starts by King Alfred''s statue in the Broadway, at the bottom of the High Street, opposite the central bus station. Winchester railway station is in the north-west part of the town, so train travellers will need to follow the signs to the city centre. From the statue, walk east, that is away from the centre, past a large Fuller's pub — The Bishop on the Bridge. Immediately after turn right along the right bank of the Itchen, very fast flowing here having just passed beneath the old city mill. Keep close to the river bank through pleasant gardens, and where the river splits keep left to reach a converted mill. Turn left over the mill stream and go uphill beside a small triangle of grass to The Black Boy , a fine free house, in Wharf Hill.

Now return down Wharf Hill, which bends left at first; then straight on along a private road (Domum Road) where Wharf Hill turns right to become College Walk. (A short detour along College Walk takes you to Black Bridge which has good views of the river and navigation splitting and merging.) After a short distance along the private road two footpaths turn off to the right. The first is easy to spot, and takes you over the navigation across Wharf Bridge to the right bank. The second path further on is more obscure, and goes to the left bank of the navigation. I think the right bank walk is more pleasant, but can be the muddier of the two. Eventually both paths reach Garnier Road, either side of the navigation.

After Garnier Road go across a small car park on the left bank of the navigation. (On the left of the car park is a brick arch, a relic of the Didcot, Newbury & Southampton Railway. Through the arch a footpath climbs to St. Catherine's Hill to provide a short extension to the walk for the more energetic.) Continue past a fairly permanent travellers' site along a good path well above the level of the water. Soon you will see St. Cross Holy Cross Church half right in a surprisingly rural setting; and soon after St. Catherine's Hill becomes prominent on the left as the level of the old railway line drops.

Our path was a key transport route in the past, and subject to many changes: navigation, railway, navigation closed, by-pass road, railway closed, road closed, and now just a footpath. When the belt of trees on the left end there is a good view of the sympathetic infill of the old Winchester by-pass ahead. Soon the long flight of steps down from St. Catherine's Hill appears on the left and rejoins our path. Just afterwards the remnants of St Catherine's Lock (lock number one) are seen on the right. Further on the navigation bed is dry, as any water flowing over the sluice at the lock flows away to the right. But presumably the bed becomes a water course after exceptionally wet weather.

The M3 motorway continues to get noisier as we walk and we are now going to start back towards the city. [Anyone wanting longer walks can continue under the motorway and follow the navigation to Shawford, Brambridge, Allbrook and Eastleigh.] The old railway level on our left now rises, and our good path now bends left and right beneath it. On the right the bridge over the navigation still stands. Our path now has a tarmac surface, presumably part of the extensive motorway works here. Turn right at the t-junction of tarmac paths, onto what was obviously once a road. This is the site of the once infamous Hockley Road traffic lights, which featured prominently in countless traffic jam reports only a few years ago.

This once busy Five Bridges Road is now only used by walkers and cyclists - it is closed to motor traffic for most of its length. Continue along the road with good views to the left of the old railway viaduct, and to the right of the Itchen mainstream. The end of the road is a popular parking place for walkers on similar walks to this.

Just after the road closed barrier turn right along a private road (to St. Catherine's Mill House and Farm). After 80 yards you have a choice: straight on along a sometimes muddy path along the left hand edge of a field, or turn right still on the private drive. (This is the more pleasant route and the one described, although it is definitely not pushchairable.) Just before a large gate, turn left along a narrowing drive with a high brown fence on your right. Continue ahead to a small path on the very edge of the River Itchen. Take care on this uneven small path, the water is very close.

The riverside path ends at a scruffy stile, cross this and aim for an elegant avenue of trees (Limes?) ahead to rejoin the other route. St Cross Church and 'Hospital' is just beyond. After the avenue, continue ahead with the church imposing on the left, to walk by an old brick wall, soon the wall bends left where a sign shows the way to St. Cross Hospital, and this short detour is also the way, just a few yards, to The Bell , a Greene King pub with a large garden.

Like every inch of Winchester, the St. Cross area is steeped in history. Make time if you can to visit the Hospital of St. Cross which is Britain's oldest charitable almshouse, dating from 1132. The inhabitants, pensioners of the city, still dress in robes designed in the middle ages. Here you can avail yourself of the 'wayfarer's dole' — a cup of ale and piece of bread given to any passing traveller.

Continuing from the wall bend the path is just visible on the grass beside a dry ditch, making an S-shaped curve across the field to the corner of some allotments. Pass thorough the gate to a path next to a small stream next to these allotments. Stay on this good path past the end of a road on the left, past a picnic site on the right, past an interesting crossing of streams, finally to reach Garnier Road with streams on both sides of you. A short detour left along Garnier Road and then right into Kingsgate Street will bring you to another Greene King house, The Queen.

If you do not take this detour, back at Garnier Road go right to cross a large stream, then left on a good path with the stream on your left, and Winchester College playing fields and pavilion beyond the stream. The main Itchen channel comes quite close at times as you head towards Winchester with the great bulk of the cathedral visible ahead. This return path through the water meadows beyond the College was familiar to the poet John Keats who is believed to have written his famous ode To Autumn ("Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness…") After an inspirational stroll along this very path.

Eventually the path ends at the back of Winchester College. Turn right past a small car park to a bend in College Walk. Here continue straight on across Black Bridge to reach Wharf Hill and the first part of the walk (and another call at the Black Boy ?).

Another option is to turn left towards the cathedral again. Soon the road bends left, there is a traffic barrier, and the road becomes College Street. At this point another broad path leads off right directly to the gardens by the riverside at the start of the walk. Otherwise continue along College Street (the main College entrance is on the left — again worth just stepping in for a glance around the main 'quad') to the T-junction with Kingsgate Street. Here you have two interesting options: on the right Kingsgate leads through the ancient arched gateways into the Cathedral Close and grounds and provides an interesting route back into central Winchester or, on the left, the unusual curved green doors of Gales' Georgian pub the Wykeham Arms beckons. The internal bric-a-brac of this most civilised of watering holes almost defies description — the abundant 'Nelsoniana' is perhaps particularly apt in this year of the Trafalgar bicentenary.

Note on seasons: This walk is best in springtime when the cowslips on the by-pass infill are a delight. Winter is also a good time, the route is quieter, and the lack of leaves means you can see further. River walks are generally more exciting after heavy rain, though that will always mean some mud.

Note on times: This is a three mile walk and as it is along the riverside there are no hills, so you could walk it in sixty minutes without detours, but who wants to rush.

Note on maps: OS Explorer 132 (1:25,000, Winchester) covers the Itchen from Eastleigh to its sources at Bishop's Sutton and Cheriton.



Rob Whatley

In November last year the Government published a public health White Paper, "Choosing health: making healthy choices easier." Included in the proposals were actions aimed at reducing the number of smokers. The proposals covering smoking in public placers were as follows:

By the end of 2007, "all enclosed public places and workplaces (other than licensed premises…) will be smoke free."

By the end of 2008, "licensed premises will be treated as follows:

  • all restaurants will be smoke free:
  • all pubs and bars preparing and serving food will be smoke free;
  • other pubs and bars will be free to choose whether to allow smoking or to be smoke-free;
  • in membership clubs the members will be free to choose whether to allow smoking or to be smoke-free; and
  • smoking in the bar area will be prohibited everywhere."

These proposals prompt a number of questions including:

  • If pubs do not prepare food on the premises, e.g. if they buy in ready made sandwiches, will they be forced to be smoke free?
  • If pubs serve food at lunchtime but not in the evenings, will smoking be permitted in the evenings?
  • What is the extent of the somewhat loose description, 'the bar area?'

There has been a great deal of speculation over the answers to these and other questions. There have also been a lot of reports on the effects of bans in the USA, and the Republic of Ireland. It is very difficult to establish real facts about the effect of the bans in these countries as most reports are written from either a pro or anti ban perspective. Both these bans were fully comprehensive, as opposed to the halfway-house proposed by the White Paper.

Hop Press has recently conducted a survey among licensees in the southern Hampshire area to try to judge how they see the likely outcome of the proposed measures. Obviously the replies depended on the licensees' own interpretation of what the measures implied and could also be overtaken by the policy of the brewery or pub chain for which they work.

Of the 33 pubs surveyed that currently serve food, 25 said that they would continue to serve food and ban smoking throughout their pub. Perhaps surprisingly, almost a quarter however, said that they would stop selling food and continue to allow smoking throughout the pub. Two of the three pubs that do not currently serve food would continue to allow smoking while one intends to ban smoking because it is a small pub and the licensee considers that the likely definition of 'the bar area' will make a smoking ban in the whole pub the only practical solution.

When we look in more details at the results of the survey, a clear pattern emerges. Six of the seven pubs that would give up serving food are in Southampton, while the other is in Lymington. Most of the pubs that would ban smoking have a substantial food trade and around half are in rural areas. These results suggest that one of the Government's aims, to reduce health inequalities, would not be achieved by the proposed measures. Indeed, the results of this survey suggest that smoking in pubs would continue in those areas that already have the highest proportion of smokers, whereas smoking is more likely to be banned in the areas in which there are fewer smokers. Perhaps not a very surprising conclusion, but one that leads towards a sort of pub apartheid.

Amongst the options that licensees might explore if the guidelines remain unchanged are the possibility of becoming a club or the erection of a covered outside area for smokers, as is happening in many Irish locations. Publicans who are smokers face a more difficult decision when deciding the future smoking policy in their premises.

Some local pubs already have a non-smoking room (often a dining room) and another room in which smoking is permitted. In some cases the non-smoking bar or room only operates at lunchtimes. The first pub in our area to go totally non-smoking was the Travellers Rest in Hythe. Others that have followed more recently are the King Rufus in Chandler's Ford and the Green Man in Winchester. We believe that the Dog and Crook in Brambridge is also considering a similar move in a month or so. These decisions have been made for commercial reasons so even if no legislation is forthcoming, it looks as if the number of smoke free pubs will increase.

Nationally, the biggest impact on the debate has been made by the Wetherspoon chain. There are already non-smoking areas in all of their pubs, but from May there will be a progressive conversion programme of pubs becoming totally smoke-free. Unfortunately we will not be able to see the effects locally for a while since none of the pubs named so far are in our area. It is planned to extend the ban to all of the company's 650 pubs by the end of 2006.

CAMRA's policy has recently been refined following a debate at our recent National Annual General Meeting in Glasgow. The policy is now that if a pub has more than one room, then there should be smoking and non-smoking rooms permitted. In such a case the main bar area should be the non-smoking zone and the smoking section should be an ancillary area — non-smoking customers should not have to pass through a smoking area to reach bar, toilets etc. If an establishment has only a single room, it should be non-smoking throughout.

It is fair to say that the proposals in the White Paper are spawning vigorous debates, both within CAMRA and more generally throughout the country. There will be a lot more said on this before final butt is extinguished.


SFI UNITS Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

What do SFI managers call their pubs? Readers of the 'In the City' page of the Campaign for Real Ale's own monthly paper, What's Brewing will be aware of the problems that have beset the SFI pubco (formally Surrey Free Inns) for some considerable time. The April edition reports on the latest problems of the company and those of the 'Slug & Lettuce' branded section of its pub estate, which is up for sale.

What readers may not be aware of are all the reasons for the continuing problems that afflict this particular pubco. Some of these reasons are the obvious ones of over-fast expansion, expensive and frequently unnecessary refurbishment, trying to change pubs into whatever the current (usually young and inexperienced) marketing executive perceives as the latest 'in' thing to attract the trade of the 20s to early 30s drinkers. There may be, however, another reason that although not a major factor could throw some light on the attitudes of the company management and thus explain why the company finds it difficult to trade successfully.

At a recent Industrial Tribunal, where an employee was claiming that they had been dismissed unfairly, an observer at the hearing was surprised at how senior managers in the company referred to the company's premises. The company produced two main witnesses, an Operations Manager and an Operations Director. It was clear from the evidence that these two were senior members of the company yet not once in their evidence over the course of the two days of the tribunal did they refer once to any of the SFI pubs as 'public houses,' 'hostelries,' 'pubs,' 'inns' or anything even remotely similar.

They did not use any term that would identify the buildings they were talking about as places that people visit to relax, enjoy themselves and have a drink they did not even use the neutral term 'venue'. They continually referred to them as 'sites' and 'units'. For example they said the Litten Tree brand had seven units in the area that was being discussed and that there were no Slug & Lettuce sites in the area. The employee concerned was asked to attend at the (name of pub ) site for their appeal hearing etc.

Not once did they use a term to describe any of the SFI premises that would indicate they realised that they were responsible for running pubs, places of enjoyment. Maybe it is this unwillingness of senior managers to accept that they are in the licensed trade, a world where ambience and nuance of impression is paramount, that helps explain why the company finds itself in its current somewhat precarious position.

Apropos of absolutely nothing, our 'ears on the street' report, perhaps because of some local Hampshire pronouncing problem, that the title of 'Litter Tray' seems to have attached itself inexplicably to some of these SFI pubs near here.



Pat O'Neill

When CAMRA was founded, in 1971 as the Campaign for the Revitalisation of Ale, it was a more or less light hearted venture, dreamt up by a group of holidaying journalists. None imagined it would last into a new millennium and become what it is today. But, it touched a nerve directly connecting to the British psyche and took hold. Soon renamed the Campaign for Real Ale, after coining the felicitous neologism 'real ale,' it has now been transformed into a twenty-first century multi-issue pressure group.

Although we started solely to fight the (then) seemingly inexorable flood tide of keg beer, it soon became obvious that we would have to get involved in every aspect of the entire pub milieu, including the spheres of both big business and big politics.

Of course you will know that we still champion the merits of Britain's unique cask-conditioned style of beer, despite its idiosyncracities which are the despair of the mass-marketing fixated international brewers. Moreover, readers of many Hop Press editions will know that saving the unique heritage of British pubs is also key to our campaigning. But, like the unseen nine-tenths of the iceberg, CAMRA now engages in a multitude of campaigning, consulting and lobbying activities that are invisible to the average pub goer.

Take the example of SDEL. Probably less than one percent of readers will have heard of SDEL and know who or what it is, yet it could end up influencing what you drink and how much you have to pay for it.

Serviced Dispense Equipment Limited is a huge company maintaining cellar equipment, mostly owned by S and N. Last year they tried to amalgamate with the servicing arm of Coors (formerly Bass) which would have created a company controlling the cellars of more than half the British pub base — a company literally controlling the beer supply to your glass.

CAMRA, realising how dangerous this would be, lobbied the Competition Commission (the former Monopolies and Mergers Commission) vigorously and gave a presentation of evidence to them. The result — success, the merger was blocked. How long for is a moot point, they will undoubtedly try again for if they can get a cartel style grip on cellar servicing then they can dictate which brewers' pumps will not be maintained and they can impose an increasing charge structure. We will stay vigilant, ready to fight again.

The new Licensing Act is another area of extreme behind the scenes political activity involving numerous CAMRA activists as well as our professional staff. We were particularly exercised about the provisions for temporary events. This is the part of the new body of law under which the majority of our of our beer festivals will be run, but of course it covers all other 'one off' events such as village fetes and shows, steam rallies, even a humble wine and cheese party.

Among the changes and improvements our representations produced was an increase, more than doubling, the number of events that could be held each year in any single location and an increase in the length of any single event to 96 hours.

I had a fascinating and eye-opening glimpse into the workings of Government as one of the CAMRA members giving written evidence on this latter point to the cross-party committee considering the Bill. Despite, presumably, being composed of a selection of MPs with a wide knowledge of matters to do with practical licensing they seemed to have almost no idea of how real events were run — no one appreciated, for example, that a beer tent at a bank holiday steam rally would want to open on the Friday evening and then stay open until the Monday evening! Although getting this point across successfully, attempts to soften the rigid upper limit (500) on event attendees met with no support, our parliamentarians seemed obsessed with a self-generated spectre of a land overrun with 'raves and new age festivals.'

Another official area of tremendous impact on pubs in our region are the planning rules for 'change of use.' There is, again, a long-standing committee that reviews planning law and CAMRA has presented evidence and lobbied to both give pubs their own use code and to make any change subject to permission. We have achieved only limited progress here in getting, from last month, the specific change from pub to 'takeaway' subject to control but change to shop, office or restaurant still needs no permission.

On the beer front, one very successful operation begun in 2004 was our campaign to raise awareness of bottle conditioned beers — 'real ale in a bottle.' This has been taken up well by both the brewing industry and the retailers, many bottles are now appearing with CAMRA's imprimatur: "CAMRA says this is Real Ale" on their labels. Along with the pub owners we have deplored the inexorable increase in take home trade, but it is an unstoppable part of modern life style change so our sensible response is to try, at least, to ensure that you take home a quality product. Many other initiatives are more established and well-known but perhaps what is less appreciated is the scale of some activities. The annual Great British Beer Festival for example now attracts almost 50,000 attendees and the 170 local branch festivals, which dispense two million pints, now play to an incredible 430,000 visitors, contributing almost £900,000 to local and national campaigning funds

This is just a flashlight onto a small part of our behind the scenes activity, all aimed at support for both the Licensed Trade and the drinking public. To be taken so seriously by officialdom is perhaps the most remarkable achievement of our thirty plus years of growth. A growth that this February passed a tremendous milestone when we recruited our 75,000th member. We have now set our sights on growing to the magical number of 100.000, a totally laughable idea at our birth in 1971.


PUB NEWS Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

We are used to pubs changing their names in order to attract a different clientele but we wonder who exactly Dorset brewers Hall and Woodhouse were targeting when they changed the name of the St. Jacques Restaurant in Copythorne to The Empress of Blandings. The publicity claims that: "…this new pub is the perfect blend of the traditional and modern … and mouth watering food." Presumably there will be a number of pork dishes on offer as the Empress of Blandings was a prize pig in stories by P.G. Wodehouse. Before becoming the St. Jacques in 2002 it was known as the Old Well Inn.

In 2001 the Lymington Tavern in the St Thomas Street was purchased by the doctors' surgery next door so that the practice could expand. Subsequently, the other surgery in the street, the Wistaria practice, moved elsewhere to new premises in the town. Late last year the circle was completed when a new restaurant/bar, Wistaria , opened in the former surgery. Originally draught Ringwood beers were on offer but there was not sufficient demand to ensure quality. Pleasingly, bottled-conditioned Ringwood beers are still available for those who wish to enjoy top quality beers with their meals, of which more later.

Another new restaurant/bar opened in the town late last year. Named Maine , it is located in a former church schoolhouse in Ashley Lane, off the High Street. One of the people behind this venture is Anthony Hughes-Onslow, who also runs the Royal Oak at Downton (the one near New Milton, not the Wiltshire one, home of Hopback Brewery). The pub was closed for several months to be refurbished but reopened recently, we have yet to check out the changes.

Continuing westwards, New Milton also lost a pub, the Speckled Trout , to the medical profession and there were rumours that another pub, the Rydal , was to be lost to redevelopment. Those rumours proved to be unfounded, though the lease to run the pub was said to be available. On the subject of the Rydal, we are sorry to have to report that in January, Gladys Walker, who only retired as landlady in 2001, after half a century of pulling pints, died after a short illness.

There is a chance that a pub that was demolished in 2001 may yet rise and fly again. Permission has been sought to build a pub and restaurant, along with 24 hotel/leisure suites, on the site of the former Flying Boat pub in Calshot. The company putting forward the proposal, Stone Close Ltd., owned the pub before it was demolished and have had various proposals, including using the site for housing, rejected by New Forest planners in the past.

Demolition was also the fate of the Bassett in Burgess Road, Southampton. It is to be replaced by a care home for the elderly. The pub closed on 29 January and on the last night a charity auction was held to sell off some of the contents. It had been a pub for more than a century and in the early 1900s was home to a Russian bear, Miskka. Once the bear escaped but was recaptured on the Common by locals using nets. In 1907 Miskka was shot as concern grew that the bear would attack someone. The body was stuffed and remained on display at the pub in a glass case. Between the wars another bear, Buster, was part of a private menagerie kept at the Bassett by the landlord, Arthur Cornish-Testrail. Sadly, it suffered the same fate as Miskka and was also stuffed and put on display. The Bassett was also the home of the Concorde jazz club before it moved to its current premises in Stoneham Lane, Eastleigh.

The owners of the Target in Sholing, Enterprise Inns, are aiming to get permission to build 18 flats on the site. Meanwhile, at the other end of Butts Road, the licensees of the Bullseye , the suitably named Paul and Lisa Bull, are among the increasing number who have applied for extended licensing hours under the new Act. Nearby, in Bursledon Road, the future of the Elephant and Castle is still uncertain. A plan that would have seen Gales take over the running of the pub, while the rest of the site was developed for housing has fallen through. Two alternative plans are now before planners, one of which includes the retention of the pub. There must be some concern over the viability of the pub when facilities such as car parking may be lost.

There is though news of a potential new outlet in the city. An application has been made to open one of the Pitcher and Piano chain (owned by the Marstons arm of Wolverhampton and Dudley Brewery) in Ocean Village. Another pub is set to reopen after being closed for many months is Legends in Bevois Valley. It is to be run by Janusz and Jane Wisniewski, who successfully turned around the Albion in Winchester. The pub has been completely refurbished and is to be known as Kolebka.

This is not the only renaming that has occurred since the last edition of Hop Press. Continuing along Bevois Valley towards the city, the former Oliver Goldsmith was renamed H2O last year. In Palmerston Road, the Angel has now grown (without, as far as we know, any help from Mr Gormley) to the Angel of the South. Bar 150 , which is possibly better known to many as Copperfields, has reverted to one of its other former names the Lord Palmerston. Le Tissier's Feet has been renamed the Chapel Arms and Greene King IPA was on offer when we visited. The Hampshire Ram has had an odd change, to the Strand, the original name of the pub around the corner. The former Henry Paget in Anglesea Road, Shirley has given up on the short-lived name Moose and has reverted to one of its previous incarnations, the Griffin. As it has been a few months since the last Hop Press , naturally there is a new name for the premises situated at 118 Above Bar. Most recently known as the Above Bar , this month's new name is Poletrix. As it claims to be a 'nightclub' the name gives something of a hint about the likely style of entertainment, not likely to be of interest to readers of this august journal…

A new name has appeared on Southampton High Street that will be familiar to Romsonians, La Parisienne. The Romsey version made its debut in 1992, when it went up on the facade of the Angel in Bell Street. It was opened by Fabrice Berthonneau and his Romsey born wife Tanya. The couple have been joined by new partners, Luc Le Gall, Sebastian and Daniel Besnard for this new venture.

Staying in Romsey, changes at the Three Tuns in Middlebridge Street have upset some of the locals. Managing director Ian Younger-Ryan from the pubs owners, Younger Leisure, wants to put more emphasis on the food side of the pub, although cask ales will still be available. Perhaps the most disturbing remark that Mr Younger is reported to have made is, "We will be providing something unique to the area and something that will complement the quality of our food with more emphasis on wine." Mr Younger-Ryan does not seem to have considered the possibility of different beer styles that might complement the food.

Two large pubs on the outskirts of Romsey reopened in December following extensive refurbishment, the Malthouse at Timsbury and the Luzborough House. Both pubs feature non-smoking restaurant areas and a more traditional bar area. Access for disabled customers has also been improved at both venues. An emphasis on televised sport and pub games is the style adopted by another nearby pub that reopened in December following refurbishment, the Bedes Lea in North Baddesley.

The Cart and Horses at Kingsworthy reopened in March following refurbishment, whilst in Weeke, Aldi has made an application to build a supermarket and a dental surgery on the site of the former Chimneys pub which was so hurriedly closed and then left abandoned. Moving towards the centre of the Winchester, Iain and Stephanie Reay won a "Customer Service Pub of the Year" award for their running of Greene King's White Swan. Since winning the award the couple have moved up the hill to the County Arms in Romsey Road.

A name that hasn't appeared in Southern Hampshire for many years returned to Eastleigh at the end of last year. The River Inn at Bishopstoke is now branded as a Toby Carvery. In the centre of Eastleigh, Earth bar and club in Upper Market Street is under new management and currently being repainted a less jarring colour. Although this is not an establishment that is likely to appeal to many Hop Press readers, it is pleasing to see an establishment that was sold by Eldridge Pope to the Inntown Pub and Property Company still trading.

Which brings us to the Bugle at Twyford, another Inntown purchase closed in the hope of a quick development gain. The villagers swamped the Wincheter planners with over 200 letters of objection and Inntown have been somewhat set onto the back foot. After meetings with the objectors and the MP (just re-elected, Mark Oaten), Inntown were expected to submit revised plans, with a pub of sorts retained but within a housing development. This they duly did in early April but then forgot to post the statuary public notice so the planners have asked them to start the process over again! Accident prone or what? The notices have now at last appeared, showing the housing element has been reduced from six to four, but this probably still does not leave a genuinely viable pub.

The other Bugle that was under threat, in Hamble, is now set to reopen in mid-June. The freehold of the pub has been purchased by Ideal Leisure, who run, amongst other establishments, the White Star in Oxford Street, Southampton. Managing director Matt Boyle said, "We really want to turn it into a great pub, where someone can come in for a pint and a pie, or enjoy a meal with wine." The properties that now stand on the remainder of the former pub and car park site range from a two-bedroom apartment at a £499,950 snip to a three-bed roomed house at a modest £789,950…

Pub News ends with some brewery news. Southampton now has a second new brewery, slightly confusingly known as the Winchester Brewery. They are on the Longbridge Industrial Estate in Floating Bridge Road and commenced operations at the beginning of the year. They already have a website in operation, which can be visited at www.winchesterbrewery.com [Link removed as it no longer works -- Ed], have a look.

The first beers appeared in Bevois Valley at the Guide Dog (Earls Road) in mid-March. We will, of course, have several of their beers featured at our forthcoming Southampton Guildhall Beer Festival in June — see details below.


SOTONFEST! Hop Press index

The Southampton Beer Festival, at the City's imposing Guildhall, is not far off. The Festival opens on the evening of Thursday, June 16th.

There will be almost 100 different beers from about 45 separate breweries, plus many ciders, perries and rare bottled beers. Cask beers are all cooled to cellar levels.

Tickets are available now. We strongly advise buying tickets in advance, we cannot guarantee 'on the door' sales.

Festival Opening Hours:

Day / Date Lunchtime Sessions
(11:30am to 4:00pm)
Evening Sessions
(6:30pm to 11:00pm)
Thursday 16th June Preview Session Entry Price: £3.00*
Entertainment:   None
Friday 17th June Entry Price: FREE!**
Entertainment:   None
Entry Price: £6.00*
   Swamp Things (Rockabilly)
Saturday 18th June Entry Price: £5.00*
   Old Thumper Jazz Band
Entry Price: £6.00*
   Peter Pod And The Peas (60's Revival)

* = includes a free commemorative pint or half-pint glass.
** A deposit of £2.00 for a glass will be required for the Friday lunchtime session (when entry is free).

Ticket Outlets:

  • Southampton Guildhall Box Office , Civic Centre (Library/Art Gallery Entrance), Southampton - 023 8063 2601
  • Bitter Virtue Off Licence , 70 Cambridge Road, Portswood - 023 8055 4881
  • South Western Arms , Adelaide Road, St Denys - 023 8032 4542
  • The Waterloo Arms , 101 Waterloo Road, Freemantle - 023 8022 0022


  • Please send details of the tickets which you would like with a self-addressed, stamped envelope and a cheque made payable to "Hampshire Beer Festival (Southampton)" to:
    Beer Festival Tickets, 11 Newlands Avenue, Southampton, SO15 5EP

    Closing date for receipt of postal ticket applications:
    • With 1st class SAE: Monday, June 13th 2005.
    • With 2nd class SAE: Saturday June 11th 2005.

More info: www.shantscamra.org.uk/sbf/



Our third online Competition Crossword. The online editor apologies for not doing a nice interactive form but it would take too much time. Instead it's a straight scan of the paper edition. The Competition Crossword will open as a graphic (66KB) in a new window for you to print out.

Prizes to the first two correct entries drawn.

Closing date 1st August 2005.

The results of the October 2004 Crossword are also a scan of our paper edition - 35KB download opens in a new window.


Hop Press Issue number 58. June 2005

Editor: Pat O'Neill
1 Surbiton Road
SO50 4HY
023 8064 2246

© CAMRA Ltd. 2005