Monday, 6 December 2010

52 years ago this month

Here we are, a copy of Mild & Bitter (thanks to Steve who handed it over yesterday in the Bridge), the house magazine of the long-gone Ely brewery of Cardiff. Christmas 1958 it says on the cover, and there’s a cartoon of a humanistic wooden cask on the back alongside some doggerel suggesting a selection of the company’s beers to go with Christmas lunch: ‘When turkey’s served on Christmas Day, My I suggest an IPA? If festive fare makes father groan, then bring him round with Brewer’s Own…And when the moon and stars come out, it’s time for Gold and Silver Stout.’ Stand down Shakespear there’s a new quill in town. Another reminder that beer and food is not a novel invention, but it’s just that drinkers and brewers forgot about it during the nice shiny modern 1960s. Inside the mag there are black and white pictures of long-dead licences (well they would be long-dead now, but were very much alive in 1958) taking up the helm of a new pub, an article on good cellaring (how very Cask Marque), an ad for Rhine wine and one for Babycham, plus a four page piece on the moon (that’s the big pearly thing in the sky not some broken down boozer in Cardiff docks). The editorial sounds familiar: the headline is WHY PICK ON PUBS? and the text contrasts the difference in opening hour regulations between pubs and hotels and clubs and then there’s a spread of cartoons detailing 10 things that a licensee can do — for instance, keep their pubs open during non-permitted hours for customers to watch the TV (but obviously not have a drop), chuck out drunks and allow customers to do their pools coupons in the pub. There’s a sense of cheery optimism running through the whole magazine, a sense of permanence in the attractions of the pub and the brewery’s fortunes — how very poignant to see that within a year Ely merged with Rhymney and then Whitbread turned up in the 1960s. The whole place shut in 1982. Do you think that the people who produced this magazine would have had an idea of what was coming?  


  1. Fascinating stuff. I love the idea of 'dry TV viewing'. The extinction of our national pastime continues at a pace, and most are completely blind to it. We'll be looking back on the whole concept of 'the pub' before long, then shortly afterwards we'll be doing exactly the same about 'beer'... Great site, will be following from now on.

  2. I love those in-house magazines. I've got a few from Barclay Perkins and Trumans. Between all the stuff about Doris and Gladys on the bottling line, there are some real gems of information. And nice images. I've got one front and one back book cover, courtesy of the self-advertising of Barclay Perkins.

    I wonder how many breweries had their own magazine?