Simpkiss Brewery and other matters
The main front page story concerned the closure of a brewery a long way from the Opening Times area but there were local connections.
The small Black Country brewery of JP Simpkiss, based at Brierley Hill, had been taken over Greenall Whitley in July. Greenalls had previously been reported as having a bid 'on the table' for some years and when patriarch Dennis Simpkiss died in the early 1980s his son Jonathan sold out in a deal reputedly worth £1.9 million.
Now, you would think that with a bit of foresight and imagination, Greenalls might have seen this as a possible new boutique operation for them. The Simpkiss estate of 16 pubs could have been expanded, and production of the well regarded bitter increased. But this was Greenalls - the history of their last two decades or so seemed to be a history of poor decisions. Every time they came to a fork in the road, they'd choose the wrong path. What could have been the north west's equivalent of Greene King or Marston's has simply vanished into history.
Funnily enough, Stockport & South Manchester CAMRA had paid a visit to the brewery the previous year, which I'd organised as branch Social Secretary at the time. I remember having a good chat to John as Hole's was one of my two home-town breweries and I remember having pints of the keg Courage (formerly Hole's) AK in local pubs.
You'll note a couple of other things on the front page. Pub of the Month was the Castlewood - we visited this pub here a couple a weeks ago. After several future incarnations it closed in 2003 and has been converted to retail use with flats above.
|The former Bridgewater today|
The Craig Dhu Hotel seems to have vanished but the Onich Hotel is still with us and now sells River Leven Blonde apparently. The Nevis Bank Hotel in Fort William is now the Nevis Bank Inn and sells two beers from the Cairngorm Brewery, while the Ben Nevis Bar sells beer from the Hanging Tree Brewery (which I'd never heard of but is apparently based in the grounds of the Benleva Hotel in place called Drumnadrochit - here's the Facebook page ).
In Dingwall the National Hotel is still there but sells no cask beer. Up in Thurso, the Central Hotel (also known as Top Joe's apparently) sells three changing guest beers, the Station Bar no longer sells cask while the Marine Bar is now a B&B.
The Caledonian Hotel at Portree may now be the Tongadale Hotel and sells two beers from the local Isle of Skye Brewery. Finally the Inn on the Garry looks like it is now the Invergarry Hotel selling Tetley Bitter.
I'm not spending long on this one. Just to record that out of the 11 pubs mentioned, just five remain in operation today.
Pages 4 and 5
I think the main point of all this is the location on Ashton Old Road in Openshaw. Back in the day there was a huge number of pubs on or near Ashton Old Road (so much so that when we started planning the Stagger programme, three were needed to cover them all). While these Archive blog posts have covered much of East Manchester, none have really looked at Openshaw so perhaps a very long post, combining some of the articles and reviewing the fate of all those pubs might be an interesting exercise.
As for the Travellers Call, the October 1990 edition of Opening Times records its closure while the following year the demolition is noted.
The only casualty has been Robinsons' Unity which they first 'mothballed' in March 2012 , subsequently selling it off. It's been converted into (what must be very small) flats.