Dear Reader: A new era for pubs + what a cock-up!

New era - The new landlord and landlady of Blind Jacks, Christian Ogley and Alice Bennett. (1711074AM1)
New era - The new landlord and landlady of Blind Jacks, Christian Ogley and Alice Bennett. (1711074AM1)

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

It was a pleasure chatting to the hardworking - and departing - landlord of the popular Crown Inn in Pateley Bridge’s High Street on Monday night, though it was obvious from the tone in his voice he’d simply had enough after manning the pumps for 31 years.

The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers (Picture courtesy of Marconi cafe)

The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers (Picture courtesy of Marconi cafe)

The sheer longevity of his tenure meant Dennis had obviously been doing a good job and he was clearly grateful for the decades of support from his customers in the last remaining pub on this Dales town’s award-winning High Street.

But, and this says a lot for the way things have gone for the traditional community pub, the financial climate had deteriorated to such a point that he offered up an admission which took me aback.

The job he had once loved had turned into one long slog.

A couple of days earlier there had been dust and debris everywhere as I stepped gingerly inside Blind Jacks on the Market Place in Knaresborough.

It was only an hour to opening time for the big relaunch and there was still a lot to do in this popular pub.

Workman seemed to be hammering away in every nook and cranny of the venue’s wooden floorboards and low beams.

Despite a nice refurbishment, the pub has thankfully retained that old as the hills look, though, in fact, Blind Jacks was brand new when it first opened the doors to a revolution in beer only 25 years ago.

“You’re never going to open by 7pm,” I said to the young man now partly in charge of its destiny, Christian Ogley.

“Yes I will,” the bright-eyed 26–year-old said. And he did.

I’ve often heard it said that Harrogate lives in a bubble of its own and, if it’s true, then some of its ways must have rubbed off on me.

For a start, my mishaps are of a higher standard and now tend to take place in much nicer surroundings.

In my early years as a young, trainee journalist at the Goole Times, I once joked while chatting in the paper’s advertising department that the ancient-looking fire extinguisher probably didn’t even work.

Before I knew it, the red conical antique had erupted into life and started spraying foam on everyone in sight.

Those slapstick days are long gone or, at least, I thought they were.

On busy days at work, which is most days, I like to pop into Bettys at RHS Harlow Carr for a sandwich but the place was so busy last Wednesday that a small army of staff in traditional black n white had been assembled to take everyone’s orders.

Having given mine, I was shuffling along the queue slowly towards the front counter when a member of staff I didn’t recognise started to head my way.

It was obvious to me she was going to ask me if I had been served yet.

The second she spoke I blurted out “yes” before I realised she had been looking at the female customer next to me and what she had actually asked me was were we together?