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This is the 50th year of the foundation of the Campaign for Real Ale and Lancashire was among the first places to sign up as Mike Hill reports

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 7:27 pm

The Campaign for Revitalisation of Ale was formed by four men who were disillusioned by the domination of the UK beer market by a handful of companies pushing products of low flavour and overall quality. Many brewers during the late 1960s and early 1970s had made the decision to move away from producing traditional, flavoursome beers which continued to ferment in the cask from which they were served.

The trend left drinkers up and down the land increasingly unhappy so Michael Hardman, Graham Lees, Jim Makin and Bill Mellor thought it was time British beer lovers were given better variety and choice at the bar.

With this in mind, it was inside the westernmost pub in Europe - in Kruger’s bar along the Kerry coast - where the first foundations of the campaign were laid. With the quartet appointing themselves as secretary, treasurer, events organiser and chairman, CAMRA was born on Tuesday, March 16, 1971.

Beer selector of the Lunesdale branch of CAMRA, Keith Greenhalgh, samples one of the brews at the branches Beer Festival and launch of the 1997 Good Beer Guide, at the Gregson Centre, Lancaster.

Their ambition struck a chord with drinkers across the land and two years later a band of kindred spirits in Lancashire formed their own branch of CAMRA.

What was the fourth group to sign up to the cause was founded in the Moor Brook Inn, in Preston, on June 25, 1973. CAMRA West Lancashire branch set up to lobby for a patch initially stretching from Blackpool to Lancaster, with monthly meetings held at venues able to supply good quality real ale to members.

Lunesdale CAMRA is now one of some 200 branches of the Campaign for Real Ale throughout the UK.

Lunesdale CAMRA has been handing out awards to pubs and clubs in the local area since 1999, including awards for Pub of the Year, Club of the Year, Town, Country and Winter Pub of the Year, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter Pub of the Year, Outstanding Services to Real Ale , Most Improved Pub and Quality Pub Award. In 1999 the John’O’Gaunt in Lancaster was awarded Pub of the Year (see picture below).

Licensee of Ye Olde John O'Gaunt, Lancaster, Steve Thorn with his wife Ula (left) celebrate being nominated by the Lunesdale Branch of CAMRA for the Pub of the Year Award, with chair of the branch, Jenny Greenhalgh.

In the year 2000, the Smuggler’s Den in Morecambe was awarded Pub of the Year.

The Hest Bank hotel was awarded Pub of the Year in 2001, along with the Water Witch in Lancaster in 2003.

The Sun Lancaster received the award of Pub of the Year in 2005, The Fleece in Dolphinholme in 2006, TheTthree Mariners in Lancaster in 2007 and Woodlands in Silverdale in 2008.

Find out more about Lunesdale CAMRA at www.lunesdale.camra.org.uk.

Members of the Lunesdale Branch of CAMRA, from left, Jenny Greenhalgh, Julian Holt, John Snape, Caroline Palmer, George Palmer, celebrate the launch of the Good Beer Guide 2002 with landlord and landlady David and Sandra Curzon of the Slyne Lodge, Slyne.1910018-3
Gordon and Andrew O'Donnell with Lesley Buckley at Lancaster Beer Festival at Lancaster Town Hall in 2010.
Owner of the White Cross pub, Lancaster, Tim Tomlinson (right) head chef Andy Elwell (front left) and bar manager Tom Wilkinson (front centre) with staff ready for Saturday's pie and beer festival.