British pubs, known the world over, have been part of our way of life for centuries. At the neighbourhood ‘local’, generations have unwound after a hard day’s work, toasted their victories and drowned their sorrows. To this day it remains the beating heart of our communities.
But this great British institution is in crisis. Between 2000 and 2019 over 13,000 pubs called last orders for ever. That’s one in four of our beloved boozers lost, never to return.
In late 2019 Tom Kerridge, landlord of three innovative pubs, decided to fight back on behalf of the industry he loves. He found four pubs in peril and threw his energy and business know-how into securing their long-term futures.
When Tom came on board, The White Hart, a remote Cornish freehouse, was barely staying afloat despite the support of its loyal locals. The landlords of the Prince Albert, a popular music pub in Gloucestershire, were hampered by the terms of their tenancy with a big pub company. The Golden Anchor, a once-vibrant leasehold in South London, had been left behind by neighbourhood gentrification. And the Black Bull in Gartmore, Scotland, had just been bought by its local community in a bid to save it from property developers.
Tom urged these pubs to modernise and diversify what they were offering to suit the changing demands of pub-goers. He worked shoulder to shoulder with the publicans to make their businesses fit for the future. Things were looking up.
But, without warning, everything they were working towards came to a shattering halt with the arrival of Covid-19. All 47,000 pubs in Britain were forced to close. Now Tom’s own pubs faced a fight for survival too.
‘Saving Britain’s Pubs’ dramatically reveals the nation’s love of pubs and the compelling reasons why we must protect them.
First transmitted November 2020 on BBC TWO.