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Message from the Chairman


Just to let you know that you have got me as Chairman for another year.

I would like to thank all thoughs who attended this years AGM, and in particular for supporting me and your committee over the last twelve months.

This is to be my last year as Chairman, I feel that no one should need to do the job any longer than that.

Above you will see the members of your Committee for this coming year and the positions they are taking on.

Branch Positions

Please give them as much support as you can.




Branch Chairman stands down


by David Boothroyd.
Personally celebrating 40 years of CAMRA and its campaigns
(originally published in Tyke Taverner in September 2011).

Memories? Millions. Successes? That’s for others to judge. Achievements? Think so – one or two.
Regrets? I’ve had a few; but then again…

So far as I can remember, the first Bradford branch meeting I attended was held upstairs in the Ferrands Arms in Bingley. You couldn’t do it now. The genial chairman at that time was Dave Beecroft. We became firm friends not long after; well, I had a car and he didn’t.
I did have experience of meetings at the Brownroyd Working Men’s Club, too. You can’t do that now, either.

The West Yorkshire branches had collaborated on a new beer guide but, at the last minute, the newly-created Kirklees branch decided they wanted to do their own. The guide was produced and was published under the title “A Guide to Real Ale in West Yorkshire (excluding Kirklees)”. The map of the region had a space where Kirklees reputedly was.

Kirklees was first out of the blocks, though, with a branch newsletter (“magazine” being too fancy a term in those days). It was called “Kegbuster”, presumably in homage to the work of cartoonist Bill Tidy, and surely a most apposite appellation when bearing in mind the work in which CAMRA was then engaged.
Dave Beecroft spurred the Bradford branch into action by producing, mainly by himself, a little tome called “The Bradford Boozer”. By today’s standards this effort was gloriously amateurish but, hey, this was all new ground back then. One of the articles within was a report on a recent football match between Leeds and Bradford branches. The reporter was none other than E.I.Addio, who noted that, while the Leeds branch scored more goals, Bradford beat them at supping afterwards. So a good result then.
I wrote a rambling article about some ale-related venture, and somehow found myself joining Steve Illingworth at the editorial typewriter. A cunning ploy by Steve, no doubt, as he soon made his excuses and left. There were not many issues afterwards (half a dozen or so, I suppose) because the next big dream was a magazine (a reasonably good term by now) for West Yorkshire.

Once again I think it was the Big Fella –Dave Beecroft – who coined the title “Tyke Taverner”, as being not biased towards any particular branch, yet definitely for Yorkshire. For some reason, I found myself in the Big Chair again. After a degree of inter-branch discussion, the first issue was published for August 1977. It had a cover price of 5p, and not many more pages. Yes, we expected readers to BUY our little gems in those days.
Anyway, the new shiny enterprise quite quickly became dull as, dare we say it, Kirklees decided to keep Kegbuster going, and the logistics of distributing a monthly (monthly, for heaven’s sake) publication collapsed. Other branches now began to try their collective hands at producing something more locally biased, and the result of that trail can be seen today.

Tyke Taverner morphed into being Bradford-based, and has stayed so ever since. It became New Tyke Taverner, then Free Tyke Taverner, before reverting to its original title. I packed in the editorship in the mid-eighties, only to end up with no rest as chairmanship of the branch came my way. After a series of editors in the interregnum, I was asked to take it on again in 1998. The reader will judge how it had developed since then.

Until the age of the Beer Orders and the whirlpools of change in the pub ownership stakes, every branch tried its best to produce a guide to the pubs in its area. We did our bit, and I was in the team to sort out the first one for Bradford in collaboration with Tim Moon, Dave Beecroft, and Gerry Garside. Early days again, so we were a bit behind current standards for a quality publication. It was all a bit home-made – especially the maps. The one for Keighley had the pubs’ numbers omitted from the map “for clarity”. A joyous decision, and no mistake.
Other were to follow, with increasing sophistication; the last one was published in 1995.

Back to the early days. My first Bradford beer festival was in 1976 (I just missed the first one in ‘75). This was held at the Dennis Bellamy Hall, a part of the University, and featured probably a dozen different beers – and bottled Guinness. It is important to note that it was referred to as a Beer Exhibition, a term some of the old-timers still occasionally use, as it was very much an educational enterprise. Some customers didn’t know what to expect; a few really did expect an exhibition, hardly imagining that drinking would be required.
These early CAMRA festivals were generally small affairs, but they quickly caught on, spread around the country, and became larger and more professionally run – although always, as now, by volunteers. Would it ever happen these days that a branch member returned an empty wooden kilderkin, to a small brewery over the Pennines, in his Hillman Imp? Thought not.
Our beer festival moved on to the main University buildings, then Queen’s Hall, University again, before settling at Victoria Hall in Saltaire. A truly wonderful venue, we all agree, and it is still too small to cope with overall demand. However, who would really want it to be much bigger? Discuss.

In 1982 the Bradford branch hosted the national CAMRA AGM. There were several firsts associated with this. It was the first to have all the conference notes in a single A5 booklet (Tyke Taverner experience coming in handy here). This booklet also had a curry crawl, complete with a glossary of curry-house terms. It contained two pub crawls, encompassing many pubs no longer with us: think Lancaster, Gladstone, Washington, Sheerbridge, and many more. Oh, how it pains to remember all those glories.
The AGM itself and its attendant beer festival were held on the University, and most attendees were put up in the students’ halls of residence. An amicable arrangement. Probably the most remarkable of the firsts was the fact that all planning meetings were held at chief organiser Gerry Garside’s house on a Sunday morning, with only tea and coffee available. I still think it amazing that, for an organisation that conducts its business on licensed premises, CAMRA does get a lot done.
But there’s even more. The whole event made a profit. Now, bewildered by this non-budgeted situation, our treasurer Phil Lawler, contacted Ian Dobson at HQ. He informed our then Chief Executive of our plight, and sought advice and direction. Ian must have been equally aghast, as he suggested we have a party. We did. Bet that wouldn’t happen today.

Now a word about Trough Brewery. Presumably seeking excitement, I volunteered to be the Liaison Officer with this organisation. For the full life of that brewery I spent some time with its idiosyncratic MD, Dick Priestley, and the rest of the staff. There is a well-worn phrase about piss-ups and breweries, and this was where it was real.
Meetings at the brewery in Idle were quite dry, and therefore short, but those in the Brewery Arms often went on for several hours, and involved more and more people. They also ended up covering subjects unusual for a BLO-to-brewer convention. Yes, yes – politics, religion, sport, local artists and playwrights, the number of new suits a gentleman should buy per calendar year, and so on. I believe I managed to submit coherent reports to meetings and the BLO co-ordinator. But I’m not absolutely sure.

There are many who will remember the late Nelson Firth. He became our branch treasurer in time, but before that he applied for a bookkeeping job at the brewery. Dick rang me and said, “There’s this fat bloke here and he wants a job. Says he knows you. Is he alright?” He got the job.
Nelson and the rest of the troupe were given beer tokens to use next door in the Brewery Arms – a nice gesture indeed by management. However, somehow the tax authorities got wind of this and demanded their bit of the benefit-in-kind. They did, but management paid it, not staff. The issue of beer tokens ended then.

Anyone remember a dark Trough beer called Blind Pugh? I think I suggested that name – rather than Black Spot or something else from Treasure Island. But it was toward the end of one of those “meetings”, so who knows?

Ah, a serious side. In 1984, the local prodnoses in the health police were threatening to outlaw the Autovac system. Now as we all know, this is a system oft used with handpumps, which recirculates beer around the pump and so produces a head we apparently desire in these parts. There was a suggestion that the head some of us experienced the day after might be caused by something that crept into the beer, and that the Autovac was to blame. We were all going to die.
I remember attending a meeting in a pub one afternoon, at which a health chief was challenged by pub licensees, who demonstrated that it was possible to serve beer using this system and not have it pouring all over their hands. A petition was arranged by the Bradford branch and publicans; this was presented to a startled Bradford Council meeting. The council members were persuaded not to just nod through this piece of nonsense. There was a meeting organised by the local publicans, which expressed the fear (as did we) that the breweries would use this as an excuse to rip out all handpumps. And then would real ale go?
Finally, at yet another meeting attended by council health officials, publicans and CAMRA, the principles were agreed whereby Autovacs could remain but a fresh glass was to be used every time, proper high-temperature glass-washing facilities were to be used, and bar staff were to be trained to wash their hands when returning from collecting glasses and so on. A victory.
Now I consider that to be real campaigning.

It is a moot point to many now whether Autovacs are needed; there is even discussion and some discontent surrounding the swan-neck spouts and current style of sparkler, but that’s for another day. And someone else.

It must be reported here that, in about 1977, the Bradford branch embarked upon a scheme in which CAMRA members from other parts if our nation came and stayed in Bradford for a few days. During this time, local members would escort them about our wonderful county, introducing them to the delights of our countryside, our heritage, our beers, our curries, and, of course, ourselves. This was the Real Ale Holiday, and it still going today as an annual event in July. For more years than she would probably care to remember it has had, as its principle organiser, Josie. And all agree – doing a great job.

Oh yes, and I met my wife in a pub. Actually, I still do, and often, but you know what I mean.…

Skipton Beer Festival 2015

Ermysteds Grammar School, Gargrave Road BD23 1PL

Thurs 28th May 3pm – 10pm
Fri 29th May 11am – 10pm
Sat 30th May 11am – 10pm
FREE entry to CAMRA members at
all times, non-members £1.50 Thu,
£2.50 Fri, Sat. No advance tickets.
Hot & cold food, mild trail,
commemorative glasses, prize draws.
10 minutes walk from the
railway and bus stations.
Around 70 cooled real ales, cider
& perry, fruit wines and foreign
bottled beers…