Pub Curmudgeon alerted me to the campaign by locals to save the Horse and Groom in the Hanover district of Brighton. This is an attractive area, with steep streets and Victorian buildings, and increasingly gentrified in recent years. It’s handy for The Level, Brighton’s best park, and borders the even livelier Kemptown, with it’s craft keg beer and Grubbs Burgers. I’m back there soon.
Photo – Brighton Argus
It looks like it will become a café bar with beers, rather than offices, which is nice. Although it’s the sort of green-tiled local I’d travel the country for, I did observe that it’s closure would still leave residents with a good 50 pubs, of all possible shades, within a 15 minute walk, even allowing for Hanover’s hilly streets. Hardly a last pub in the village scenario.
By contrast, my neighbouring Fenland village of Landbeach has no pubs at all. It’s last one, the Slap Up, was better regarded for it’s calorific pudding cabinet than it’s Tolly’s beer, and converted into an excellent Indian Restaurant a decade or so ago. The Slap Up was a mile walk (a mile !) from most of Landbeach and Waterbeach anyway, and suffered a shift in custom with the arrival of a Chef & Brewer alongside the River Cam.
At one point there were 7 pubs in Landbeach, presumably each providing a variant Lettuce flavoured Saison for members of their family. The village population has actually increased from a few hundred to about a thousand in the last century, with plenty of newish industrial estates nearby. Although the most documented village in the country, and the medieval village with moat is worth a look, it is not exactly overrun with tourists on their way to Ely or the Norfolk Coast.
The last pub, Slap Up apart, closed nearly 50 years ago, and there’s little evidence left that there ever were any pubs. It’s a shame there wasn’t more effort to protect village amenities in decades past; it also lost the last village store, and Post Office, as a giant Tesco a mile away opened in the ’80s, with more dormitory housing taking their place.
The only bright spot is the relatively recent opening of a small bar in the Village Hall, though with very limited hours and membership rules. A micro-pub might thrive here, but there are no closed shops for middle-aged entrepreneurs to take on.
There is one empty building that would make a lovely micro-pub, if niceties like access and fire regs were ignored. The medieval thatched tithe barn is a lovely building, and at least here the community are making some concerted attempts to preserve it for future generations.
NB The Mongoose in the Bollywood Spice is highly recommended.