Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pubs at Heart of a Community

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pubs at Heart of a Community

Article excerpt

Byline: RICHARD FLETCHER

TO misquote the author Mark Twain, have reports of the death of the traditional pub been greatly exaggerated? The death knell has been rung many times: the disappearance of hordes of thirsty lunchtime factory workers, the smoking ban, Budgetary tax increases, the tag team of recession and cheap supermarket drinks offers.

Each one seemed to be a sucker punch that would rip the heart from one of society's least acknowledged yet most important institutions.

Yet so many great pubs still exist.

We're spoilt for choice in the North East. It would be easy to skim over the issue, saying the strongest performing pubs will always survive, that these problems haven't had the effect people thought they would, that people will always drink whatever the cost.

But the truth seems to be subtly different. Modern times have killed pubs as they used to be and forced a re-invention, a sea change into something rich and strange.

The best pubs now have a hook, a USP, something they do particularly well that people can't find elsewhere, that they can offer as a parrying blow to the threatening thrusts of crippling beer duty and cheap supermarket booze.

For some, it is providing hard-tofind craft beer, others have the biggest range and beer events or become known for entertainment nights or promote their location and history. And as the Rose and Crown in Slaley, Northumberland, is currently finding, becoming the community hub is also an option.

The Rose and Crown could be taken over by volunteers from the village's community trust if negotiations with the owners work out.

The trust opened talks with Marston's after the pub's tenants left in July. It's a great opportunity to become the heart of the community, and funnily enough they need look no further than a pub in Heaton, Newcastle, for an example of what can be done. …

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