Pubpaper 729 – Public Opinion of the Pub

Posted: 5th October 2013 by santobugtio in Pub Paper, Writing

The local pub is still one of the things which define a community along with the local post office, general store and fish and chip shop.  However with the exception of the fish and chip shop, as the demand for fast food rarely diminishes, all of these are now disappearing from many villages and the suburbs in larger towns.  Take a look at my local village, we have lost two post offices at Southowram village and Bank Top which have now been replaced by a shared counter at the general store.   One of the pubs, the Malt Shovel has been left to go to rack and ruin with the boards from the upstairs windows currently lying on the pavement below leaving the building to the elements.  The Packhorse  has now been converted to a curry house and takeaway and although I always bemoan the loss of a pub building to other uses, if it has to change then somewhere which serves Indian food would be top of the list.

This situation is being repeated across the area, on the drive from Halifax to Todmorden a few weeks ago, there were 5-6 pubs boarded up, with one of them being converted to housing judging by the contents of the car park.    Even in Mirfield as you drive along the main road there are a number of pubs shuttered up.   This is repeated on a regional and national scale.   With this in mind, it is no surprise that according to a YouGov poll only 38% of people asked considered themselves to have “local pub”.    The more worrying figure is that 63% of people said they did not have a pub at the heart of the their community, and where there was a pub, a significant number of people did not think of it as their local.

The good news is that pub is still a popular place to socialise, although it has been overtaken by restaurant visits.    Cafe’s come a distant third showing that alcohol is still a core driver for our social time, despite the demonisation of alcoholic drinks over recent years and the ever increasing cost of purchasing them.  People who do socialise at the pub did not come up with an big surprises when most stated that they prefered a country inn or traditional pub.  However 1 in 7 people have some weird fetish which makes them prefer chain pubs above others.   They have their uses I admit and I do use them on occasion for family meals out, usually for the childrens facilities pre and post dinner so me and my wife can have a quiet drink while they play, however they would never be my first choice.

The regularity of pub visits should definitely be concern from these stats, over 1 in 5 only visited “several times a year”, with an educated guess being these are special occasions.  About a third said they visited 1 or 2 times a month, while a fifth of those asked said they visited the pub at least once a week.    While this loyal 20% is crucial to the survival of this countries pub stock, they need to convert these visitors who only make monthly visits to a more frequent basis, and likewise for those people who only visit for special occasions into visiting the same pubs as a more regular treat.   Many people think that pubs should run more events to entice them to visit more often, and the pubs which do well are the same ones which do this already judging by anecdotal evidence from my local area.

From a personal point of view, the pub is the highlight of a night out, even when I go out for a meal, I look forward to visiting the pub or pubs afterwards more, the meal is just to start the night off.  You just can’t beat a chilled Saturday afternoon over a few pints before going home to make tea or a leisurely afternoon watching cricket at the local club over a few too many pints.   Beer, cider, wine and other drinks are our social glue in this country, the pub is the place where we should adhere to, as once we lose our pub, local or not, it is likely to go for good with many becoming houses or convenience stores never to return to being a licensed premise again.

  1. Curmudgeon says:

    One of the key reasons behind this decline is that, for large sections of society, just going to the pub for a drink has become socially unacceptable in a way that it wasn’t a generation ago.