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60 Minutes Story on the Future of Pubs is Repeating Tonight

I missed the original airing of the report on 60 Minutes, assessing the potential future of English pubs. There was a Forum thread about it, 14 months ago https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/england/tonight-on-60-minutes-cbs-7-30-pm-eastern-time-the-future-of-the-english-pub . It was aired again in February, during the last Súper Bowl, and I only saw the very last part.

Well, I’ve just learned that it’s being included on 60 Minutes again tonight, perhaps a Christmas present from CBS!

Posted by
1136 posts

Just watched it. Made me want to return and visit my favorite pubs and new ones as well at the earliest possible time.

Posted by
2364 posts

We did not know about it and just returned home. Cyn would you let me know.a.synopsis?

Posted by
6113 posts

If it was made some time ago, many may have closed! I have been to a pub once in 5 years but I am probably not typical. I know others that don’t go as often as they used to as costs have rocketed.

Posted by
1919 posts

I saw it and it was very interesting.

I am going to London in October and will be spending five. nights. I had no knowledge of the pub culture and the good food that is often offered. I might even have a pint although I am not much of a drinker

Posted by
7346 posts

Gail, 60 Minutes visited several pubs and interviewed a number of customers and Publicans (pub operators), and indicates that these watering holes/public gathering spots have been undergoing considerable changes. Pubs have existed for centuries, but in the past 25 years, their number has dropped from 65,000 to fewer than 50,000.

Causes of the decrease include high beer duty, a smoking ban, cheap lager available at grocers, decreased drinking, and perhaps most of all, real estate developers and venture capitalists buying up the properties. Then, the Covid pandemic dealt a heavy blow.

Many pubs have had colorful names, (The Drunken Duck, or The Ape and Apples, for example) with pictorial signs that often illiterate pub-goers in the past could easily identify. The Fighting Cocks, purported to be the oldest pub in Britain, was shut for some time during lockdown, suggesting what future life would be like without pubs. Millions of barrels of beer across the nation were dumped down the drain, and taverns sat empty.

Coming out of Lockdown, many of those interviewed suggest the Pub is the institution that was most essential to be saved - having a pint was patriotic, preserving life in Britain. Some attempts to remain in business, by introducing gourmet food, or music with DJ’s, or converting to a sports bar, have been shunned by many traditional places, which continue to serve their community as they have for generations.

The story wrapped up with the Prince of Peckham in South London, a pub bought a few years ago by a Nigerian-born man who said he wouldn’t have felt welcome at a pub 20 years ago. It had been destined to be replaced by apartments or a mini market, and has now been adapted to give marginalized people a place to gather. The report ended with the suggestion that pints won’t drink themselves, so the key to pubs’ survival is keeping people coming in by catering to an evolving, ever-changing Britain.

Posted by
1136 posts

Unfortunately, the majority of seemingly independent pubs have been bought out by, and are now operated by, a small handful of beer distributors.

Posted by
7346 posts

Right. There are pubs where you can tell what distributor handles the franchise, from the line-up of beer handles on display at the bar.

Posted by
32735 posts

in the past 25 years, their number has dropped from 65,000 to fewer than 50,000.

The trend continues.

39,787 pubs in December 2022.

Posted by
3752 posts

Cyn, thank you for posting this, plus the link to the thread I started two years ago.

We watched this again on 60 Minutes Sunday night.
What may save many pubs is that many now serve good food in addition to being able to get a pint there.
The link to my thread from two years ago lists many pubs in the Cotswolds.
Stopping in for a pint and a meal after a walk seems to be very popular there.

I am sad to see such an ancient tradition as the pubs beginning to disappear.

Posted by
620 posts

For many North American travelers, the pub experience is a key ingredient on a successful Brit visit. Which pubs are the most worthy, the most typical, the most local and somehow 'realauthentic', remains a topic for debate--cue this forum plus LP and Fodors.

'My pubs better than your pub, mate!'
We were at a disadvantage this past June, given my hearing issues ('WHAT?!'--editor), but still managed to sneak in a few heavily-researched pubs. Will give some subjective feedback in our eventual TR.

Btw, one pub was shown in passing a couple times during Stanley Tucci's recent London episode (he lives there). That pub's owner has these past several years come in for what appears to be accurate criticism for their oft-insufferable attitude towards well, everybody. Visitors, staff, tourists are all apparently fair game at that pub, drawing the brazen disrespect of the publican. Yet our landlady highly recommended that pub! We held our tongue, but wondered when her most recent visit to that same pub had been.

What was it that Jagger had once sang about, getting one's 'fair share of abuse!' LOL!
I am done. the pint

Posted by
2364 posts

Anyone old enough to remember the song "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot"? I guess this could be another topic for the forum. I think I will start one and hope to get some replies of wonderful places gone due to progess .

Posted by
6113 posts

The cost of lighting and heating commercial properties has doubled if not tripled over the past year plus the cost of food is about 20% higher, so expect many more pub closures. Going to the pub is no longer a cheap night out.

In the past 20 years, the village where I live has seen 4 pubs close and only 1 remains. Quite why a village of just over 1,000 people ever needed 5 pubs may explain why so many have closed.

Posted by
7346 posts

Rebecca, thank you for the original thread that you posted when the story first aired. I was pleased to be able to cut-and-paste it into this latest discussion. I’d wondered whether 60 Minutes would include any updates with this latest story - not this time.

Gail, Canadian Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” from more than 50 years ago, does suggest some of the good old things are now forever changed - and not always for the better. She’s been through major changes herself - after a near-fatal brain aneurysm a few years ago, and having to relearn how to stand, how to play guitar, and more, she’s singing and performing again. But her ethereal soprano is gone, and she’s a contra alto now, with a much deeper voice.

Jennifer’s last post indicates that supply can certainly exceed demand, even in the best of times. Are brewpubs currently present in the U.K.? Over the past 35 years or so, the brewpub phenomenon has seen massive growth in the U.S.A., especially in Colorado and states along the Pacific coast. It seems everyone’s got one or more “signature” IPA’s. Most now seem to have a requisite food truck parked outside, rather than having a kitchen, and that’s part of the ambiance and the experience. And as far as likely having a disproportionate number of establishments for the population and the visitors, pretty much every ski town in the state has multiple brewpubs serving their own beers, plus a distillery or two, and also marijuana stores. Makes you wonder at first glance what everyone in town is doing with their disposable income, time, and brain cells.

Posted by
7534 posts

Are brewpubs currently present in the U.K.? Over the past 35 years or so, the brewpub phenomenon has seen massive growth in the U.S.A., especially in Colorado and states along the Pacific coast. It seems everyone’s got one or more “signature” IPA’s.

Yes, there are brewpubs. From my perspective, I traveled to the UK starting in 2004, and have been there some 6 times over the years, mostly centered on London. Each time, I saw the microbrewery movement grow, not sure how it weathered the pandemic, but it is a "thing". Also wrapped up in beer choice is CAMRA, a group promoting the cask ale. They list, promote, and educate pubs on the handling and care of cask ales (they can be a bit tricky, a live ale, that is hand pumped from the cask). When I first went, you were lucky to find one or two cask ales on tap, and over a couple weeks, I had at least two pints that the beer had gone off (it gets sour).

Over the years, the availability of cask ales and craft beers has grown, the beer has gotten better, but to be honest, the better beers tend to be in trendier pubs, and craft breweries in tourist areas. For example, we are heading to Cornwall this next year, I am looking at maybe 20 breweries in the county, my first visit a couple decades ago, there was maybe two commercial breweries and a couple microbrews.

But the overall issue with pubs is basic supply and demand. There were at one time lots and lots of pubs, one on every corner so to speak. Since that time, people are as likely to drink at home, in other venues, but mostly drink less. Drink driving laws, various government laws on closing hours and serving, changes in laws affecting brewery ownership vs independent pubs, the rise of pub conglomerates, increasing costs, all also create a challenge in a shrinking market.

There is no danger though that when visiting you will not find a pub, and hopefully you find, while fewer, better pubs.

Posted by
1823 posts

Loved watching it. Made me want to drive to the airport and get on a plane headed for England. Of course it doesn't take much to make me want to do that!

Posted by
8660 posts

Since my first London adventure in 1972 I’ve made it a personal quest to find a traditional not gastro pub to have a pint.

In 2021 there were 2.

The Jolly Gardners on Lower Richmond Road. No food service. Listened to retired Black Cab drivers bemoaning Uber.

After walking The Line (https://the-line.org/) discovered the riverside pub, Anchor and Hope. Cute little snug inside and had an engaging chat with 2 regulars. Easy peasy stroll up Anchor Hope Lane to Charlton train station. If memory serves
( always questionable ) took a Thameslink train to London Bridge. Walked to Monument and took the tube back to the Richmond Quadrant. Long day but the type of on foot exploration I prefer.

For me pubs are the perfect way to sit quietly and observe. Also provides time to rest tired feet and use the loo. Practical and engaging.

Lastly, my most enduring find was 3 years ago.
The Mitre on Saint Mary’s Grove. Great owner
( Chris), perfect pub dog ( Rudi ) and Edgar’s oh so tasty salads and pizzas. As my English friends remind me “ You’ve found your local.” They are correct for on each London visit I reserve a late afternoon and dedicate it to The Mitre. Fancy a pint?

Posted by
3223 posts

Thank you for this thread, thank you Claudia. We are adding a traditional pub to our 10 day London itinerary in the fall. Can't wait to knock down a pint or two with some Brits!