Wiganers in hospitality sector say why they are missing the pub

A national campaign is asking people to say what they enjoy most about a traditional British boozer.
Stuart Hurst and Bob Nelson behind the bar of the Twisted VineStuart Hurst and Bob Nelson behind the bar of the Twisted Vine
Stuart Hurst and Bob Nelson behind the bar of the Twisted Vine

The Campaign for Pubs launched Missing The Pub to allow all those who love a good inn to shout from the rooftops about their enthusiasm at a time when Covid-19 restrictions mean doors are firmly closed and handpulls are still.

Wigan pub owners and brewers have joined in the chorus of voices, with many saying it is the social and community aspect of a good boozer that they are most nostalgic for and cannot wait to experience again when they are allowed to reopen.

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Hospitality has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and pubs are still facing weeks of waiting before there is any chance of them being able to welcome customers once more, with tentative dates currently pencilled in for outdoor service in beer gardens from April and then for seating drinkers indoors from mid-May.

Carl Jump and Ellie Thompson outside the Black Bull in StandishCarl Jump and Ellie Thompson outside the Black Bull in Standish
Carl Jump and Ellie Thompson outside the Black Bull in Standish

They have also been stopped, during this lockdown, from doing the takeaway services that they have run previously when people have been ordered to stay at home, although deliveries to residents’ doorsteps are still permitted.

Brewers, festivals and other ale events, meanwhile, have responded to the utterly changed landscape by going online, with beer fans putting together events to sample and chat about all things hopped over devices such as Zoom.

However, all of that is a poor substitute for people walking through the doors to enjoy a pint together.

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Jo Ashton, the manageress of award-winning micropub Wigan Central, said: “We are looking forward to being able to see everybody again.

Wigan Central manageress Jo AshtonWigan Central manageress Jo Ashton
Wigan Central manageress Jo Ashton

“Personally I miss the spontaneous conversations, just being able to have a random discussion about anything and everything.

“Deliveries are keeping us going but there’s no real social interaction. In a pub you can end up talking about anything.

“That’s what I miss the most, just talking to people. It’s fun and it’s part of the enjoyment of being in this industry.

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“In the mean time I would just encourage people to buy local and to think about which pubs they want to see stay open and support them as much as they possibly can.”

Also looking forward to some good conversations over the bar are Carl Jump and Ellie Thompson, who took over the Black Bull in Standish during the pandemic.

They also extolled the social aspects of a watering hole, and in their case are particularly keen to get the community through the doors so they can meet them.

Ellie said: “We’re just waiting for the green light now. We’re hoping to get permission from Marston’s so we can be serving outside. The size of our beer garden means we can maintain social distancing within it.

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“We’re definitely looking forward to reopening and to meeting the community and the regulars.

“We miss meeting up with people and socialising more than anything.

“Pubs are really important. We’ve started affiliating with the charity My Life and it’s important if you’re running a pub to make yourself part of the community.

“There are lots of modern places like cocktail bars now but a pub is more about the community.”

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Stuart Hurst has seen the pandemic’s effect on real ale and craft beer from more than one angle as he runs Hindley brewery Hophurst and also owns the Twisted Vine in Ashton.

He said: “For breweries to survive and thrive we need pubs open, especially independent ones.

“At the Twisted Vine we’re only going to be able to open from May 17 on the current timescale and we’ve had a lot of comments from regulars asking when we’re going to be open again and saying they are missing the social element of it.

“That is what has been missing a lot. It’s OK that we can speak to family and friends on Zoom but there’s the social side of meeting in a pub and having a chat. It’s not necessarily just about the drinking itself.

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“It’s fine to drink nice beer at home but it’s just not the same as that community element of seeing friends and people you wouldn’t normally see anywhere else.

“During the pandemic breweries have been selling directly to the public but it’s not just about the beer.

“We’ve now had three lockdowns and everyone’s had enough, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccines and we’ve got some provisional dates for opening, which is positive.

“I think this has made people realise how much they value the social elements of their lives, going out to a restaurant and a bar or pub with friends and family. You think these things are always going to be there and get complacent.

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“With Hophurst we did a virtual event for Manchester Pubs Matter Festival. That was fantastic and we were really chuffed.

“At this time it’s about getting our beers out there as much as we possibly can however we can, but at the end of the day we want our beers in pubs.”

As well as celebrating all the things that make pubs great the Campaign For Pubs is also urging politicians to continue supporting the sector as some watering holes are still looking at a couple of months until they can open their doors once more.

To find out more about the campaign visit missingthepub.uk

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