Hoppy Hour with Andrew Nowell...
Winds of change are blowing through the pub scene and it is the traditional, back-to-basics boozer which only serves drinks having it toughest of all.
When many pubs have diversified and offer food, entertainment and other activities without compromising their essential ethos, those who stand or fall solely on the number of pints supped can find themselves with little room to manoeuvre.
So it is in Wigan with the loss of old-fashioned Frog Lane boozer The Colliers Arms (pictured), where time was officially called earlier this year.
The handsome red-bricked building opposite The Deanery CE High School is now being kitted out to start a new chapter in its history as Mr Wang’s restaurant, offering Chinese and Japanese food.
The pub was once
renowned for the high quality of darts played by many of its regulars, but from the new year the arrows will be traded for chopsticks as it seeks a new lease of life as an eatery.
It’s a path which has been successfully trodden in the borough before, most notably in the town centre where the Thai Tavern is a much-loved fixture on the eating scene, but one which has nevertheless caused the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) a bit of heartache.
The Colliers was seldom on Camra’s radar in recent years and was something of a cask-free zone but the organisation reckons 30 pubs a week across Britain are closing and wants to highlight the dilemmas faced by many landlords.
Wigan Camra chair Peter Marsh said: “It is a shame, although I don’t think it’s a pub I’ve ever actually been in. However, we’re finding this all over the country.
“Non-food pubs are being sold off because pub companies are subsidising their properties by making money on the food side.
“It’s a cleft stick situation. You either have low rent but have to buy full-price beer, or face a high rent and get lower beer prices.
“In terms of the Colliers there are several pubs in that area and there’s at least one that’s already closed there. It’s the wrong side of town and that’s probably why it hasn’t had a lot of custom.”
Another issue facing
traditional pubs like the
Colliers is the rise of microbars and their links to independent breweries, taking the more dedicated ale audience away due to having huge selections of beers for punters to try.
It is not clear at this stage what drinks will be offered
to people enjoying a meal,
but restaurants are increasingly choosing kegs and
Hopefully, people will still enjoy a good drink or two at the ex-Colliers in the future, just as an accompaniment to a plateful of the finest cuisines the Far East can offer.