25 years in the Good Beer Guide

Many visitors to Bromley, and probably some residents too, never get to visit the maze of narrow residential backstreets just behind Bromley North Station. However those who do venture there will find not just one, but five flourishing backstreet local pubs, all grouped together within a few hundred metres. In November of this year one of those pubs, the Red Lion, (as pictured on the cover) reached the milestone of having 25 consecutive entries (1998 to 2022) in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide.

Licensees Chris and Siobhan Humphrey first arrived at the pub in 1993. In those days it was a Whitbread managed house. Siobhan said, “We came here in March 1993 to provide approximately six weeks cover and we are still here, 28 years later.” In 1997, Beards of Sussex acquired the pub and carried out refurbishment and redecoration work, removing the fixed seating and creating more of a traditional real ale pub, including increasing the number of handpumps from two to five. However, in 1998, Beards sold their entire estate to Greene King, at which point it became a tenancy, as part of Greene King Pub Partners.

Siobhan continued, “We are proud to have been included for 25 successive years in the Good Beer Guide. This achievement is only possible with the support of our customers and friends. Without their support we wouldn’t be the community we are. This achievement is as much theirs as it is ours.”

Serving quality ale has always been a high priority for Chris and Siobhan. Currently the regular beers are Greene King IPA and Abbot, plus Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter and two rotating guest ales. An array of various pump clips is displayed above the bar, just a small selection of the many guest ales served over the years.

Chris & Siobhan

The forced closure during the various periods of lockdown was used to carry out maintenance and painting works, including installing a new kitchen to suit the new pizza menu venture and opening up the rear garden as an outdoor drinking area.

The Red Lion still boasts original dado tiling in the entrance and bar and has a real open fire in the winter months. Numerous bookshelves are filled with real books to browse, rather than just as decoration. The books include an almost complete set of Good Beer Guides since 1998.

The Red Lion retains a traditional backstreet atmosphere and has a strong community feel with a loyal following of regular customers, some of whom the pub has seen grow up and now have children of their own. It has a broad appeal across the generations, attracting regulars who travel from outside of the area to enjoy the pub and its beers. Enhancing the community atmosphere are the well-supported men’s and women’s dart teams, both of which compete in local leagues.

Charles Tucker, the chair of CAMRA’s Bromley branch, said, ”The Red Lion is a small community pub, swimming against a tide of major industry change for three decades, as well as battling during the last two years the COVID restrictions. This award not only reflects 25 years of hard work by its licensees but also recognises the efforts they have made to maintain top quality beers in a traditional pub atmosphere. Bromley branch is privileged to have such an outstanding pub in our area and we thank Siobhan and Chris for supporting CAMRA’s aims and principles over this period of time.”

The branch plans to present a special award to Siobhan and Chris on Monday 6 December.
Charles Tucker and Bob Keaveney,
with thanks to Chris Crowther for the photos