Friday, 24 July 2009

The Canary in CAMRA’s coal mine

In London Drinker I read that the CAMRA branch in Bexley (which is somewhere between the Thames and Brighton I think) is in danger of being wound up because they are not getting people coming through to serve on their committee. I wonder if any branches have actually gone that way? Will Bexley be the first branch to turn out the lights and leave the area to ravaging hordes of WKD-swigging Vandals?

As CAMRA gets more and more successful and bigger, it seems that getting the people on the ground is getting harder. Branches seem to be ageing from my limited knowledge here in the southwest and the same people serve year after year. CAMRA might talk of a change in the public’s attitude to its much mocked image as a sandals-and-sores society, but maybe that is not the perception at a local level. Or are people generally not willing to get involved in anything? Morris Dancing is supposedly on the wane (though not Rapper or clog dancing), while the WI probably has a problem in getting people in to sample their jams and calendars.

The point of this post: is Bexley the canary in CAMRA’s coal mine?


  1. Much of the way CAMRA operates still seems to be rooted in the world of 1970s trade unionism and political activism, involving interminable committee meetings in smoke-filled upstairs rooms in pubs. Things have moved on since then and a lot of younger people are understandably reluctantly to get involved in all that tedium. And it certainly is the case that the local CAMRA activists often seem to be the same people they were twenty or more years ago.

  2. As a youger CAMRA member, I am disappointed that new members don't want to get involved.

    All we want is some vague level of interest. Just reporting every now and again on what happens in their local pub would help, but we get nothing.

    Edited for typos.

  3. Curmudgeon (great name BTW) — ‘same people they were twenty or more years go’: certainly but if people don’t get involved then the diehards stay in place until they die. Maybe if you are a younger member and want to get involved but are put off by hanging out with guys the age of your dad, then maybe you have to bring some mates with you, the more young people that get involved the more they can change CAMRA to their vision from the grassroots up (and there are some things that really need changing in my view).
    Herring (or is it Herr Ing?) — I often thought the CAMRA young members group or whatever it was called had a whiff of the Church or a political party about it (ie Young Liberals, Young Communists, Young Methodists), which was a) slightly patronising and b) fusty. Maybe you just have to steel yourself and go out and change things and push for CAMRA to accept the likes of BrewDog at GBBF. After all, it’s all good beer (slightly going off subject here).

  4. I agree. I am a member of CAMRA, but have not attended a meeting - although I am attending an award presentation toinght, as it happens. For me, running my blog, and updating sites such as Pubs&Beer is my own form of evangelising. Could it be the blogging is a far more effective tool for spreading the Beer word these days? Methinks so...