The headlines read “Five pubs close everyday” The rate at which the steel windows are mounted in pubs is quite depressing and appears to be escalating. What can be the reasons for all this? Not so long ago, Grimsby was teeming with pubs, especially before the virtual closure of the fish docks. Going for a drink was the national pastime in the  days before television and other diversions came about and it was comparatively inexpensive. It was a place to meet for conversation, darts, crib and a pint to go with your fag.

    Ah yes – the fag! Now could the smoking ban be at the bottom of things? There’s no doubt that a large proportion of pubgoers of both sexes enjoy a cigarette and these people are obliged to smoke outside whatever the weather. It has to be said that the areas provided for this purpose are a pretty poor substitute for the warmth and comfort of the inside. For all the cover from the elements, you can’t stop the wind from entering a largely unenclosed booth or a canopy.

    Once upon a time, the only music in the pub came from a jukebox or from a local Mrs Mills (remember her?) playing a battered and usually untuned piano, often referred to as a janglebox. These days, there is piped music. Years ago some premises had background music to create an atmosphere. This was of a laid-back nature and was termed ‘musak’ after the firm which specialised in providing it. Today, all that you get is awful identikit dreck which  is played far too loud, making conversation difficult and furthermore, there are speakers in every corner and  there is no opportunity to escape it. Then of course, there is the disco that likewise is heard all over the pub but, worst of all is the dreaded karaoke. When first introduced here from Japan, it bombed but amazingly the second time around, it became enormously successful. It’s popular with landlords, obviously because it’s dirt cheap but entertainment it aint!

    Then there’s the beer. Before pubs attracted the interest of the venture capitalists and property companies, they were largely owned and run by brewery firms e.g. Hewitt’s of Grimsby. The beer on offer was exclusive to them but attracted a loyal following. Some smaller towns had a dominance of a sole brewer and the inhabitants had no other choice if they wanted a night out. These days and especially so with the massive choice of ales from small independent breweries and the influence of CAMRA, there is less reason to concentrate on a limited range and people are becoming more discerning. Even younger people are discovering that there is life the other side of lager. Unfortunately in this area, too many pubs stock the same brands. Why should one patronise one pub over another if it sells the same products, provides the same entertainment and has a smoking shelter? 

    The foregoing may go some way towards providing an answer to the question of why pubs are failing but, perhaps the most compelling reason is the high price of a pint in most pubs. Whatever the reason, the lack of custom is threatening the livelihood of the landlord, although another factor leading to closures is the departure of publicans who simply can’t afford to carry on due to the combination of lack of trade coupled with the high rents and stringent conditions loaded on to them by some pub owning companies.

    Some pubs are diversifying and releasing a section for other use i.e. a local Post Office or shop. Unfortunately this isn’t an option for most and at the moment I can’t see an end to it. I do believe though that in most towns there are too many pubs chasing diminishing trade and their departure won’t be an inconvenience to many. If this means that those remaining get their act together and create an atmosphere which the majority of pubgoers want, then some good will come out of the present situation. The phrase ‘Use it or lose it’ couldn’t be more appropriate.

    Tap & Spile
    Originally believed to be a short term closure, it appears that the whole site is up for sale. It looks a sorry mess and has taked on a very forlorn look. Sad for those who remember the good times when a large and changing variety of  real ales was available and the place thriving.

    Brocklesby Ox (Ulceby)

    This fine looking pub has not been demolished. as previously reported. The building will become a Cooperative store.


    A recent closure is this Cleethorpe Road located pub which has an attractive tiled exterior. It survived the blitz but apparently is unable to survive the current climate in which pubs exist. Not just the lease but the entire premises is for sale. It's unimaginable that it would exist in any other form but although it didn't sell real ale, it's still a loss to the drinking community.