Once/if things get back to “normal” I’ll be able to catch a train to Durham in less than 2 hours, which sounds like a win.
I’ve been scouring my newly acquired first Guide to North East pubs for a Durham City boozer that’s in the current GBG I can write about.
It’s harder than I thought.
These days the county town gets a dozen central entries in the Beer Guide; back in ’78 there were only FIVE selling real ale at all, less than Stockton. As with most things, I blame students.
Let’s consider Ye Old Elm Tree. Or just Elmtree if you’re the North-East pub guide for 1978, when they couldn’t even afford the gap between “elm” and “tree” as parchment was still rationed. But the budget for the 50p booklet did allow a listing of beer strengths. 1044 for Bass, as we all know, 1042 for Samson in the Tree.
In 2016 I wrote;
“The Elm Tree was (allegedly) omitted from the GBG some time back for failing to achieve acceptable standards, which is quite something for a Branch with the privilege of hosting the Newton Cap in Bishop Auckland (RIP). The Tree used to be a very loveable pit, and still retains a community feel without gentrification.“
And on my first visit, circa 2002, it was indeed a scruffy rundown Pubmaster place selling wonderful Castle Eden.
By 2016 it was smartened up, as Alexander Bell (no relation) allows me to show you with his contributions to Google Maps. Nice of Alex to take a photo of the front door opening;
STILL selling Castle Eden, still a welcoming, Cambridge King Street mix of post-grads and folkies, no longer failing to meet anyone’s rigorous standards, whatever they were 20 year ago.
Yes, yes, you’d have preferred it when it only had Vaux on electric pump, or before it introduced trendy snacks, I guess, but how much would you give to be there right now ?
Internal photos by Alexander Bell via Google Maps