Three cheers for Chester's buoyant pub scene


Matt Jackson

WHEN asked to descibe a great British pub, many of us would immediately think of being tucked up in front of a roaring fire with a traditional pint of real ale on a dark, cold winter’s evening.

But it has been well documented that the pub industry has been facing real hardship over the last decade  and new figures suggesting that 39 per cent of adults in the North West have never visited a pub has been met with concern.

Latest statistics also indicate that bars in and around Chester employ more than 2,000 people, with nearly a thousand of these aged between 16 and 24.

The latest research was carried out by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

According to their findings, the number of pub-goers have also declined over the last 12 months by more than a third.

Nationally 28 pubs close each week but, says the campaign group, pubs in Chester have been faring better.

Craig Papworth of the Chester and South Clwyd branch of CAMRA, said: “The pub scene in Chester is actually more buoyant than the rural areas. We’ve actually had more pubs open.”

Chester MP Stephen Mosley, was made a ‘beer champion’ in Parliament, The special award is a joint initiative from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), CAMRA and the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA).

He said: “Figures show that Chester’s 105 pubs and two breweries support 2, 218 jobs across our city, 855 of which are for 16-24 year olds.

“I’m a passionate supporter of our local pubs and earlier this year I was delighted to be made a parliamentary ‘beer champion’ by CAMRA and the British Beer and Pub Association for my support of pubs and beer drinkers.”

The Government is hoping the recent cuts to alcohol duty will help pubs, which were once a mecca  for British people.

Chester's pubs however have been feeling the pinch in recent years, and a shift in culture, towards late-opening nightclubs, cheap supermarket alcohol pricing, and other factors have led to a decline in sales.

Frank Marnell, chairman of Chester Pubwatch, said: “The latest findings do not surprise me in the least. There are still 28 pubs a week closing down nationally.

“You only have to look around in Chester.

“If you go out any night of the week there are less people now than a year ago.

“If you go out on a Sunday night, some pubs are shut by 9pm.

“Once upon a time we used to blame the Wetherspoons pubs but now their prices aren’t that different any more.

“People’s culture has actually changed. The stopping off for a pint on your way home before tea was ready does not happen now. People will come out for an occasion like a retirement ‘do’ or a birthday party but they tend to happen on a Friday.”

Andrew Atkinson, manager of the Cellar Bar, Chester’s pub of the year, said: “People do comment on review websites, and you have to take them with a pinch of salt.

“People looking for good beer will look at the Good Beer Guide and find places like us.

“On a Saturday afternoon, people get off the train and they will come to us for a beer and they will go to all of the beer houses in the guide.”

See full story in the Chester Leader

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