Having just blogged my thoughts on the Prices & Availability Survey in the latest edition of Gloucestershire CAMRA’s The Tippler newsletter, I am also compelled to blog in relation to a second article.
Under the title “Trouble at t’Mill”, the editor, Geoff Sandles highlights the plight of the potentially wonderful pub, The Mill at Whithington. He describes it as the “epitome of a classic ‘picture postcard’ pub” and suggests that it has the “potential to be one of the very best pubs in Gloucestershire.”
Sadly, The Mill has not lived up to its potential for many years, largely due to the bizarre attitude of the brewery. It is owned by the Yorkshire brewer Samuel Smiths, and Geoff marvels at the fact that they are apparently doing everything they can to put customer off going into their pubs.
Gloucester has two Samuel Smiths pubs: The Old Crown in Westgate Street and the Robert Raikes in Southgate Street. Geoff also mentions these and the fact that they share the same problems.
I won’t go into the details – you’ll have to read the article yourself – but needless to say I couldn’t agree more. In fact, back in August 2009 I wrote a blog Landlords Know Best expressing very similar sentiments. This was inspired by a conversation with the landlord at the Old Crown who has since given up the uneven struggle and called it a day.
I read the Tippler article yesterday whilst enjoying a beer in the Pig Inn the City in Westgate Street and, as it happened, immediately afterwards I had call to visit the landlord at the Robert Raikes. I was planning one of my occasional pub tours around the city and wanted to check that it was okay to take the small group into the bar to talk about the interesting history of the pub.
Phil, the landlord, is a genial chap and, in the past has been more than happy to welcome me into the pub – after all, it’s all good publicity. He wasn’t there when I turned up yesterday, but I spoke to a very helpful barmaid. She apologised profusely, but said that unfortunately the brewery had now banned them from allowing such things; they had also had to stop the regular Ghost Walks, hosted by Lyn Cinderey, from going there.
This is barking! I presume the brewery must have its reasons, but it amazes me that any landlord can make a living in the current climate under such harsh constraints.
I wish the landlords all the best of luck in all the local Samuel Smith pubs – sadly I fear they are going to need all the luck they can get!