Letters – July 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 and state ‘letter for publication’ so as to avoid any misunderstandings.

SOME THOUGHTS ON BYGONE PUBS

A certain story in the news back in April reminded me of a London pub with a similar name that I used to drink in. This was the Baynard Castle in Queen Victoria Street EC4 and was named after a castle that had been near the site until the Great Fire of London. There is also a Baynard House and a Castle Baynard Street in the area which is part of the Castle Baynard Ward of the City of London. When I frequented it in the late 1970’s and 1980’s the Baynard was a Charrington’s pub selling two real ales, Bass and Charrington’s IPA. From a real ale perspective there were better pubs in the area, including the Black Friar. However, being close to Blackfriars station, the Baynard stayed open to 11pm while other pubs in the area tended to close earlier so it was a good place to finish a crawl or go to after your first choice closed. As far as I recall, it also had an upstairs room with three pool tables when pool was still a relative novelty in London pubs. The pub is still open but is now called Rudds. It serves Doom Bar.

A little while back there was some correspondence in London Drinker about the Carpenter’s Arms in Seymour Place W1, close to Marble Arch. I do remember drinking there in the 1970’s when it was one of the few real ale free houses in London and I found it listed in some of the 1970’s Real Beer in London guides that are available on the web here. In the 1975 guide it is one of only five pubs listed as selling real ale from four or more different breweries. Two of the others were the Hole in the Wall at Waterloo Station, SE1 and the Anglesea Arms in SW7, both of which were still in operation up to the ‘lockdown’ so might be open again by the time this letter gets printed. The other two were the Tudor Close in Petersham, Richmond, now a keg Sam Smith’s pub called the Rose of York and the Coronet Bar in Soho, now a restaurant. The correspondence also mentioned another Carpenter’s Arms in Whitfield Street W1. In those days this was a Charrington’s pub and, according to the guides, sold Bass and Charrington’s IPA but I can’t remember ever drinking there.
Colin Price

REUSABLE, RECYCLABLE CONTAINERS AHOY!

In his opinion piece on the back page of the June issue of CAMRA’s magazine, What’s Brewing, Paul Nunny of beer quality champions Cask Marque observed, ‘For pubs, cask can be (the) unique selling point as it is the one beer you cannot drink at home.’ I wrote in to say, ‘Really? Thanks to my local pub in Merton, I can regularly collect as much freshly poured cask beer as I want to drink at home’. Cask is of course the one beer you cannot buy at a supermarket, if that was the point Paul had intended to make.

The point is still relevant, I suggest. At the time I wrote, it looked as if ‘social distancing’ limitations might mean that my local could not reopen for the foreseeable future. In that event I was hopeful that its excellent cask beer takeaway service would therefore continue. A month later, hooray, my local has reopened, necessarily with what I would prefer to call ‘responsible drinking’ measures in place. But yes, the option of collecting cask beer is still available and must help to keep such wet-led pubs viable for as long as pubgoers cannot congregate in numbers. And how better to lubricate those ‘virtual meetings’ in front of a computer screen at home!
Geoff Strawbridge
Editor’s note: CAMRA does, of course, want to see as many people as possible return to using pubs. That said, not everyone is able to do so. If they need to buy beer to drink at home, it is better that they buy it from pubs and direct from breweries than from supermarkets.