According to figures published this week by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), pubs are closing at a rate of 28 a week. This is up slightly from 26 pubs a week, but is a marked improvement on the 52 pubs a week that were closing in the first half of 2009. Nonetheless, it is still pretty depressing.
Gloucester, however, seems to be bucking the trend.
Last year I undertook a mission to visit all of Gloucester’s pubs. The aim was to explore what has changed since I carried out my ‘research’ pub crawls whilst writing The Story of Gloucester’s Pubs in 2009.
I found that some pubs had closed and some new ones had opened. Overall there were 50 pubs in the centre of the city, compared with 51 in 2009.
Given the plight of pubs across the country, the net loss of just one pub in the city over the period is pretty impressive. It is even more impressive that yet more pubs are about to open.
Over the past few weeks there has been news that the Vaults in Northgate Street is about to re-open after a major renovation and under its original name of The Northend Vaults; a new micro-pub called Inn the Round is set to open on the corner of Southgate Street and Llanthony Road; and the Gloucester Brewery has an ‘exploratory’ planning application in to convert the former Bridge House in Llanthony Road into its own brewery tap.
If that isn’t all a sign of a city with its evening economy on the up I don’t know what is.
Even this pales to insignificance, however, compared to a list some friends acquired for me showing the ‘Pubs and Hotels in Gloucester taken from a 1893 list’. I don’t know where this was taken from, but it lists an amazing 177 Hotels Inns & Taverns that were apparently operating in that year.
That’s a lot of pubs: I may be a little daunted by the prospect of getting around all of that lot!
Twenty four out of the 177 pubs listed are still open today: maybe that’s not too bad after more than 120 years.
And don’t forget, if even Gloucester’s impressive offering of pubs isn’t enough to slake your thirst, it is just under a month now until Gloucester CAMRA’s Beer & Cider Festival at Blackfriars on 4th-5th April: for details see http://www.gloucesterbeerfestival.org.uk/