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General or Historical Articles

Alec James

FiftyYears12 1Things started to change in 2012 with the explosion of micro pubs in Kent. Some people think it is the best thing to happen but do we want them to further erode the normal bog standard boozer? I must admit the beer is of better quality than some pubs but will the CAMRA Good Beer Guide become swamped by them?

Folkestone’s Leas Cliff Lift Beer Festival provided a welcome relief from the cold February weather (see photo on right).

When my son was taken ill in March we had to travel to Chichester to visit him. We stopped for lunch most times at some pub on route but one stands out. We parked at the rear of the pub only to find a full length railway carriage joined on to the pub wall! Inside it was used as toilets and storage space. Sadly I have no idea where it was.

FiftyYears12 2The trips did let me visit a few pubs from days gone by, the Gribble Inn being the best. Pub beer festivals have really come a long way now, Six Bells at Woodchurch, George & Dragon in Swanscombe and the Cinque Ports in New Romney being a few of the best.

A really annoying trend appeared in the shape of pub festivals charging to go in. There was one locally and the excuse to go was live music and a free glass. The fact that the music wasn’t on for two hours and I only wanted a couple of pints made it a very expensive pint. Of course I've never been back and am not likely to. Now when I go to a pub festival, at the first sign of a charge I'm off!

The year ended with another Gills away day. When we got to York the river had burst its banks, the game was off but at least the city is full of excellent pubs so not a bad week-end away after all.

FiftyYears12 3So the end of my travels are near as retirement looms and old age beckons. Gone are the 10 pints a day pub crawls and the struggle to work next day. 2013 was a bit of a non event as I mainly went to familiar pub festivals and few Kent CAMRA ones that were worth going to. The grand occasion of my last working day arrived on the 4th October, so it was bags packed and off we went. Up to Newcastle, said hello to Hadrian’s pile of bricks, across to Carlisle and the Lakes and a slow amble home.

Over three weeks later I sat down and said I must write some of this rubbish down. Looking back, the whole drinking culture has changed, the beer quality has improved, but so many pubs lost. Many of the pub’s characters are no longer with us and only this week (14/5/2015) Electric Eric's, the former Cricketers in Strood was finally boarded up with little chance of it re-opening.

Finally I must thank a few of the people who made the adventure so enjoyable, Eric Acott at the Cricketers and all the eclectic bunch of regulars, Roger & Kay at the Tudor Rose, Pete at the Will Adams, and Pete & Doreen at the Horseshoe.

Part 12 of 12