Published on March 3rd, 2016 | by Alastair Gilmour


Showing your smalls

The phenomenon that is the micropub shows no sign of levelling off – in fact, the opposite is true. Micropubs, which often take over redundant shops and by their very nature are small and intimate, shy away from televisions, gaming machines and music, but fit perfectly with contemporary pub culture. 

The sector was developed by Martyn Hillier at the Butcher’s Arms in Herne, Kent, in 2009 when he took advantage of the licensing act of 2003 which simplified a change of use from a shop to a public house. And the North East is spawning its fair share to the point that the likes of Curfew in Berwick and The Office in Morpeth have recently been presented with Pub of the Year certificates by their local Camra branch, while The Rat Race at Hartlepool Station is a multiple award-winner.

It’s reckoned the sector doubled in size nationally during 2015 (to 200) and will number 800 outlets by 2018. The newest North East micropub, to our knowledge, is Wor Local (pictured), which opened in February in Prudhoe, Northumberland, where Allison Thear was inspired to transform a former computer game shop into licensed premises after visiting several micropubs herself.

Furniture was scavenged from Felling Social Club which has changed its focus from what used to be termed a “working man’s club” into a live music, cabaret, club and bingo venue (here’s a thought, why are micropubs booming and social clubs dying? Who’s got it right and who’s got it wrong? Answers to info@cheersnortheast.co.uk” info@cheersnortheast.co.uk headed Not Rocket Science), while encouragement came via Allison’s husband Terry and their three children. Wor Local lives up to its name by offering a selection of local ales from Hadrian Border, Cullercoats, Hexhamshire and Firebrick breweries.

We’re planning a micropubs feature for April’s Cheers, so suggestions for inclusion and all comments are welcome (info@cheersnortheast.co.uk).

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Alastair Gilmour

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