The winner of CAMRA’s National Pub of the Year award is the Bell at Aldworth in Berkshire. A previous winner in 1990, the pub has Berkshire’s sole Heritage Pub Interior (Grade II listed) and remains largely unchanged, with two separate and contrasting rooms. It has been owned by the same family for some 250 years. Ben Wilkinson, the competition organiser, commented, “The judges were impressed with how a stranger entering the pub was treated like a regular straight away. It’s clear that the local customers use the pub as a community centre as well as a place to drink and the warm welcome and knowledgeable staff made us feel right at home. Nothing can beat the combination of good beer, great food and a warm heritage pub.” The Guardian described the Bell as being ‘unashamedly stuck in a timewarp’ which I thought was slightly insulting. If you have got it right, why change? Beers are mostly from local breweries and there is a large garden. The pub is closed on Mondays (except bank holidays) and closes in the afternoon. The nearest railway station is Goring and Streatley, about 2.5 miles away (take the B4009 across the river) but, be warned, there is a very, very steep hill in the way.
The winner of CAMRA’s Club of the Year award, organised in conjunction with the Club Mirror magazine, is the Cheltenham Motor Club, which won the title previously in 2013 and 2017, again showing admirable consistency. Although it caters primarily, as you might expect, for motor enthusiasts, it is friendly and welcoming to those who are more interested in its six real ales and three real ciders. Keith Spencer, the Chairman of CAMRA’s Clubs Committee commented, “Cheltenham Motor Club keeps raising the bar in this competition year after year! It is clear that the club is a pivotal fixture in the local community and you can see people of all ages and from all backgrounds throwing their support behind it.”
Congratulations to Orpington Liberal Club who were one of the runners up. The other three finalists in both competitions are listed on page 14 here..
Tony Hedger (from various sources)