Letters – March 2020

All readers – not just CAMRA members – are invited to submit letters for publication to London Drinker but please remember that the letters column is intended for debate and constructive criticism. The editor reserves the right not to print any contributions that are otherwise. Please e-mail letters to: ldnews.hedger@gmail.com. If you do not have e-mail, hard-copy letters may be sent to the same address given for subscriptions on page 3, addressed to London Drinker Letters. In both cases, please state ‘letter for publication’ so as to avoid any misunderstandings.

EARLY DOORS

In the Feb/March London Drinker you mentioned my news item that the Market Porter in Borough Market, SE1, still uses its early morning licence. This reminded me of an article ‘The closing of early doors’ which I wrote for the December 2016 edition (volume 38, issue 6). The article was inspired by the closing of the Hope in Cowcross Street, EC1, one of the pubs near Smithfield Market that used an early morning licence. The Hope has since reopened with three handpumps but it now does not open until 11am. The Fox & Anchor still opens at 7am weekdays (8.30am on Saturdays) but this is mainly for breakfasts. One other pub that was closed when the article was published was the Smithfield Tavern in Charterhouse Street. It has since reopened as a Simmons, part of a chain of 15 central London establishments that operate as late night cocktail bars. Sadly they do not sell real ale.
Colin Price

Editor’s note: you can view Colin’s original article here:

THE PRICE OF A PINT

Rarely have I agreed so fully with a leader article in London Drinker. Geoff Strawbridge’s piece on beer pricing in the Feb/Mar edition was spot on. ‘Dry January’ is of course a thinly disguised assault on the pub and brewing industries by prohibitionists masquerading under the cover of ‘concern’ for public health. I make sure to drink even more in January. And as for CAMRA discounts and Wetherspoon vouchers, I refuse the former and re-cycle the latter. A premium real ale should command a premium price, so as to create a margin for the brewer who brews it and the pub that sells it. Surely CAMRA needs members who wish to contribute to the campaign, not profit from it? I believe a former US President said something similar at his inauguration in 1961.

To conclude, a story from the halcyon days of the much-lamented Battersea Beer Festival. As manager of the Foreign and Strong beer bar, I once managed to acquire a crate of Westvleteren 12% ABV (yellow cap) Trappist ale for which I charged £8 a bottle, which reflected its quality, its rarity and the cost of procurement. One customer vehemently objected to this price for a ‘small’ bottle of beer upon which another customer pleaded to pay £10 for it. Behind both stood a third customer waving a £20 note, begging to spend all of it for a precious bottle. My reply to the first customer? ‘So you still think I’m overcharging for this beer!?’
Peter J Sutcliffe

MEMORIES OF MORTLAKE

The Evening Standard Homes and Property section on Wednesday 12 February had an article about the redevelopment of what was the Watney’s brewery site in Mortlake. This reminded me that in the mid 1970’s, when I first became aware of Young’s, I was going through Mortlake one Friday lunchtime. As I lived in Barking at the time there weren’t a lot of Young’s pubs convenient to me so I got off the train and went round to the Jolly Gardeners. Most of the customers seemed to be workers from Watney’s brewery wearing Watney’s branded overalls. There was also a Watney’s pub nearby called the Jolly Milkman which is now closed. On its page on the Closed Pubs website, an elderly gentleman has added a comment that his uncle worked at the brewery as a cooper and got an allowance of eight pints a day (well it was Watney’s) and then went to the Milkman in the evenings!
Colin Price

Editor’s note: it appears that there are now no pubs in Great Britain called the Jolly Milkman. Isn’t that sad? Mind you, there aren’t that many milkmen…