New Year and Honours

Welcome to the first edition of London Drinker for 2024. I wish you all a very happy New Year, although, sadly, I can make no promises.

Tim Martin has been knighted; the citation was for ‘services to hospitality and culture’. London Drinker sends its congratulations accordingly; it would be churlish not to. Sir Tim told the Morning Advertiser, “Above all, JDW’s success has been due to a team effort over 44 years. Very many thanks indeed to the customers, colleagues, suppliers, designers, contractors and others, present and departed, who have contributed to this honour.” Whatever you think of him, his pubs and his opinions, the creation of the J D Wetherspoon pub chain has been a substantial achievement. I think that it is fair to say that, almost since its beginnings in 1979, JDW has become the most divisive pub company in the country. While some people have made it their life’s mission to visit every branch, others refuse to set foot in them. There are even social media sites dedicated to denigrating the organisation. On the positive side, JDW has a commitment to cask beer, which is usually served in good quality. In many areas it is the only source available. Many argue that it is the arrival of a branch of JDW which often puts other local pubs out of business. Perhaps, sometimes, it simply demonstrates that other companies’ business model makes their pubs incapable of competing. In this context please read Geoff Strawbridge’s article on page 4. Despite all the recent closures, new sites continue to open, the latest being the Captain Flinders in Euston.

Another prominent pub trade figure to be recognised is Martyn Hillier, the owner of the Butcher’s Arms in Herne, Kent, which is generally acknowledged as the country’s first micropub. Martin also founded the Micropub Association and was CAMRA’s Campaigner of the Year in 2015. He has received an MBE.
Tony Hedger