A recent sign of the times is the changing face of high streets and town centres up and down the country. The nostalgic image of a busy street with a grocer, butchers, fish & chip shop, tailors with other independent shops and outlets is becoming a distant memory. One of the hardest hit industries in recent times is the good old fashioned pub.
With an average of 18 pubs, a week closing according to the Campaign for Real Ale, it’s becoming a real concern. Public Houses historically have been a good community asset, a great place for people to meet, relax and try and forget about the stresses of the working week.
Over the last 15 years, we have lost so many local pubs, the John O’Gaunts, Stepping Stones, Coach & Horses (Commercial Street) and Woodland Hotel have been lost from Rothwell. Woodlesford has lost the White Hart, Methley has lost the Royal Oak, with Carlton losing the old Queens and Swillington has lost ‘The Swillington’. These are just from the top of my head, I have a feeling I could have missed one or two from this list!
So why are we losing our boozers? There are numerous reasons, all of which show us how society is changing as the years roll by. Firstly, people now drink differently. With beers and wines more affordable in shops and supermarkets, more and more people will buy alcohol as part of their weekly shop and enjoy a drink in the comfort of their home. The smoking ban in pubs hit public houses hard too. With people being forced out into the cold to have a cigarette it made the decision to stay home with a few cans of shop bought beer much easier and also, cheaper.
Additionally, the younger generation has a different attitude to drink. Young people aged 16-24 drink less than any other generation according to the Office for National Statistics. Gone are the days of looking forward to your first pint, either as a coming of age on your 18th birthday or a rebellious adolescent trip to the pub before being the legal age!
Economics is another factor towards the demise of your local watering hole, rising business rates, especially for those on high streets are tough for public house owners to constantly meet. Then we have the fact that people have bigger priorities, with the cost of living rising and wages plateauing or falling, a trip to the pub is much less of a priority than paying the weekly bills and putting food on the table.
Reversing the trend
So how can this trend be reversed? Pubs are now having to adapt to trends, the current fashion of cask ales, craft beers and trendy gins are a good example of how pubs have changed. But modern pubs now have to be assets to the community.
We chatted with local landlady Laura Simister of The Black Bull in Rothwell who gave us an insight of how they have adapted to keep their pub as busy and popular too as many people in their community as possible.
“The Great British Pub has undergone a transformation in recent years,” says Laura.
“Staying focused on spotting the next opportunity and staying ahead of the market and current trends is tricky, but if done well it is a productive and satisfying way to get customers through the door and work in a vibrant inspiring atmosphere”.
“At The Black Bull we try to offer a unique experience doing what we do best, our superb staff provide quality customer care, always going that step further to create a friendly welcoming environment open to the whole community. Our natural rhythm of the week including poker, quiz nights and Sports has been enriched with bringing city centre style themed quizzes, guru led spirit tasting nights, beer festivals, live music and meet the brewer tap takeovers to customers doorsteps with a plan for a great value quality night. But also supporting the local community groups such as Dementia friendly Rothwell and hosting children’s Easter, Halloween and Christmas parties has brought another dimension to the day to day running of the business and we are seeing a lot more families socialising in a safe environment.”
“Ossett brewerys chosen charity is Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice which helps hundreds of wonderful children, and their equally wonderful families right across West Yorkshire & North Manchester, as part of Ossett we and all the other Ossett venues support with hamper raffles and sponsored events such as our Pig Racing night last Easter.
Listening to customer feedback and aiming to improve each event or service is ongoing to keep busy we must constantly adapt and move forward changing with the needs of our customers within the community around us..”