Wakefield CAMRA raise a glass to celebrate 40th

Albert Bradbury presents a pint of the finest during the beer festival
Albert Bradbury presents a pint of the finest during the beer festival

A hardy bunch of committed ale drinkers sat down nearly 40 years ago to lay the foundations of Wakefield CAMRA.

The ale aficionados met at the now defunct Primrose Tavern, near Kirkgate station, four decades ago to launch the district’s branch of the Campaign for Real Ale.

In 1975 they were faced with a limited choice of beers to drink, but fast forward to 2015 and the ale scene couldn’t be any more different.

The district now has micro breweries all over its patch – from Outwood to Hemsworth – and two more in the pipeline, Trinity Brewery at Belle Vue and another at Altofts.

Wakefield District CAMRA chairman Albert Bradbury, 71, said: “Back then each pub was a Tetley pub, a John Smith’s pub or other breweries. You just got their beers.

“Now of course, you have got places like Harry’s Bar or Fernandes, which have got a multitude of choice. There is a lot more choice now than there was then. There are quite a few pubs springing up, which are giving people that choice.”

One of the new beers you can drink this month is Clark’s 40 Not Out, which has been brewed to celebrate the branch’s 40th birthday. The pump clip features a picture of Mr Bradbury as a batsman part-way through his innings.

Mr Bradbury joined Wakefield CAMRA in 1976 when the branch had about 50 members. In 2015 there are some 990 members whose ages range from around 20 to 80.

Fellow member Bob Wallis, also 71, has been in Wakefield CAMRA for about 20 years.

He has laid his hands on a copy of the 1986 Good Beer Guide, which gives a snapshot of the Wakefield beer landscape nearly 30 years ago.

He said: “The 1986 guide shows no breweries at all in Wakefield. Clark’s hadn’t started brewing again then.

“But the range of choice in Wakefield district now – wow!

“We have got a colossal number of small breweries. There are two more due to start, Trinity Brewery at Belle Vue and one at the Robin Hood at Altofts.

“Pubs are returning to real ale. The choice back then was Tetley’s, Darley’s, some Cameron’s if you were lucky, your Webster’s and your Wilson’s. But then Clark’s started brewing again and Tigertops started up.”

This Saturday, branch members are set to celebrate district’s rich ale heritage with a grand tour of some of the pubs that have long featured in the Good Beer Guide.