/ Scotland2016

Weds continued - why we do it

One of my readers (probably the only one) commented on the negatives posted: cold, wet weather, dour people and chasing our tails hunting for LPG and I could read the subtext "Why bother?".

Here's why. After last night's blog entry we did indeed wrap up warm against the elements (2 hats, the wind was so cold) and brave the just over mile walk to the pub. And a scary walk it was too down a main road without pavement where the 60mph sign seemed to be taken as a minimum rather than maximum.

Arriving at the pub just before 8 we found ourselves the sole customers, not an auspicious start. But they had 3 handpumps of their own Carlisle Brewery beer on (all of which were excellent). The pub architecture was superb, an excellent example of a 1930s art deco influenced wood paneled interior, most of which was still original. No surprise to discover it is Grade ii Listed. Then we read our beer mat which referred us to the State Management Scheme. The. what?, you ask; they what?, we asked too. Basically in 1916 as part of DORA (the defence of the realm act) the government took over all the pubs in the Carlisle area to try to reduce alcohol consumption of workers at the nearby munitions works in Gretna. They closed pubs, rebuilt others and put civil servants in charge of all the pubs. The goal was to make pubs less working man alcohol centric but more family friendly and food oriented - I suppose having your missus come down the pub might well reduce your alcohol consumption (doors in my case). Landlords were not incented on alcohol sales but on sale of soft drinks and meals. An interesting experiment who merits further reading. The amazing thing is that whilst a similar scheme in Enfield was stopped in 1921, here in Carlisle it continued until 1973!! Social engineering on a grand scale. The Spinners Arms was an example of a 1930 pub under the scheme built by the scheme's main architect, Harry Redfern.

Wonderful stuff but it gets better, just before 9 a group of musicians wandered in, set up in a corner and started jamming folk tunes. No house band, no fees, just a group who enjoy playing together and use the pub to indulge their talent. And very talented they were too. This sort of informal music where musicians jam together and the rest of the pub ignore them (no applause) is quite rare even in Dublin where a few such places still exist but to find such craic here over in England is rare indeed. And very enjoyable, all instrumental, mainly reels and airs that were very heavily Irish influenced. Good stuff and sad that we felt we needed to leave before the end.

Anyway one night like that, great architecture, great beer, great music and an interesting snippet of English history we were totally unaware of - that's we we suffer the weather, traffic, and glum faces of shopkeepers.