During the recession, there was a fear that the local pub was in grave danger. Certainly the figures that were published about weekly closures at the time were quite alarming. Staying in was the new going out, and the availability of cheap grog from the supermarkets was an easy pull for those who wanted to preserve their minimal bounty.
Competition in the Hanover area for pubs has always been tough. Anyone living in the area could easily run a Friday evening crawl of their nearest ten outlets and still have no more than a ten minute stagger home from the furthest watering hole. My Dad once told me that there were even more pubs when looking back 50 years or so, and a look at a Brighton map from the 30s suggests that the assertion that there was one on every street corner was not far off correct. By looking at some corner houses in the area it is easy to gauge that at some stage they were something other than residential dwellings. I’m guessing a pint of your favourite jar was once much cheaper than it is now, and home even closer.
As a youngster (and under 18) I regarded the Horse & Groom as my local. The quiz nights were a favourite of mine. In hindsight there were a good few pubs nearer, so that merely upholds my previous point. Nowadays I don’t have a local as such, but my nearest pub is The Duke of Beaufort, or simply The Beaufort to most of us.
The Beaufort has been part of my history for many years, I’ve nearly always lived within sight of it. Although never a regular haunt, I would often pop in when there was a big match on, or just for a pint with a friend. My Dad’s local venue in the 50s was the Walmer Castle, further south down Queens Park Road on the corner of Albion Hill, but he tells me that he does have memories of The Beaufort. Historically it has always been regarded as a ‘traditional working man’s pub’- rather outdated and slightly misogynistic phrase nowadays, but I can see the point being made.
Today I popped in for a Sunday roast. My Dad lives just over the road and it’s good to get him out rather than cook a roast for one. The venue has changed very little over the years with its old regalia and still has that feeling of a ‘proper pub’. When I was much younger the pub had a bit of a reputation, although I’m not so sure that would apply now. For those who like sport they have the big screens and show major matches, and on the north side of the pub there is an open Poolroom for those who enjoy ‘shooting a few balls’.
I have been quite surprised that the take up on Sunday roasts, which are very good value and well presented, seems so minimal. A pub up the road, The Bib & Tucker, on the corner of Queens Park Road and Elm Grove had a similar problem. That eventually closed down and is in the process of residential conversion, but one senses, with its position and long history, The Beaufort will be with us for many years to come.