It is well documented in the national press that pubs are under pressure and are closing at an unprecedented rate.
However, it is also well known that in Alnwick we have a number of fantastic hostelries, many of which are reviewed in the pages of the Gazette.
One of these, the John Bull Inn in Howick Street, has recently achieved a trio of awards from the Tyneside and Northumberland Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA).
Not only was it named North Northumberland Pub of the Year, but also Cider Pub of the Year and Overall Tyneside and Northumberland Pub of the Year, an unprecedented achievement as far as I am aware.
Why this success? Is it because there is no piped music? No fruit machines? No television? Perhaps.
Obviously, Gus, the landlord, keeps a fantastic range of ales and whiskies – that goes without saying – but there is no food (unless you want peanuts or crisps), which most pubs run by ‘pubcos’ (the huge pub chains which have taken over most of the pubs in the UK) think is essential to the modern pub experience – though these do have their place, it must be said.
No, I think it is because Gus and his staff keep it simple and provide a service which the many loyal customers (from far and wide, as well as Alnwick) can rely on and enjoy.
A success story for our times and an asset for Alnwick. Well done.