'Leeds has got some of the best pubs and breweries in the north of England'

The chairman of the Leeds branch of the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) has told of his hopes and fears for the future of the city's pub and brewing scene.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 4:50 pm

Tony Jenkins spoke out on the national campaign group's 50th anniversary today (March 16).

Tony said Leeds CAMRA is "very concerned" that the hospitality industry has been unfairly targeted in terms of closures during the pandemic and he fears Leeds is "inevitably" going to lose some pubs.

However, he said Leeds has some of the best pubs and breweries in the north of England and he is hopeful that people will soon once again be travelling from across the UK to enjoy what the city has to offer.

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Tony Jenkins (left) chairman of the Leeds branch of CAMRA outside The Grove pub in Holbeck, Leeds with Dave Knowlson, landlord of The Grove. Photo: Gary Longbottom

Tony said: "Leeds CAMRA has been working through the pandemic to support pubs as much as we can.

"Members feed data into www.whatpub.com and we have information there on which pubs are doing takeout.

"We are very concerned that the hospitality industry has been unfairly targeted in terms of closures during the pandemic.

"Pubs are not just places where people go for a drink, they are important parts of their community and a vital social meeting place for many.

Tony Jenkins Chairman of the Leeds branch of CAMRA outside The Grove pub in Holbeck, Leeds. Photo: Gary Longbottom

"Leeds is inevitably going to lose pubs when they are finally allowed to reopen, but Leeds CAMRA's members will be doing their best to support each and every one."

On March 16 1971, four real ale enthusiasts founded the national CAMRA group with a vision to improve consumer choice of great beer and pubs.

More than 100 people attended the inaugural meeting of Leeds CAMRA on September 3 1974 at the former Central Station Hotel, now the Editor’s Draught on Wellington Street.

Tony, of Headingley, who has been a member of Leeds CAMRA for 35 years, said people at the meeting were concerned that traditional hand pumps for beer in pubs were being replaced with electric pumps.

Tony, who works as an IT lecturer at Leeds Beckett University, said: “The meeting felt the branch should make urgent contact with Joshua Tetley in order to present CAMRA's views on the local situation.

"At the time the majority of pubs in Leeds would have been Tetley pubs, owned directly by the brewery .

“Members were urged to go and talk to landlords with a view to restoring real ale.

“They also discussed producing a local beer guide to pubs serving hand pumped ale.”

Tony added: “Now CAMRA is not just about real ale. In more recent times the campaign has broadened to include saving and supporting pubs.

“Leeds has got some of the best pubs and some of the best breweries in the north of England."

Speaking outside his favourite Leeds pub - The Grove Inn on Back Row, Holbeck - Neil said: “We hope to be here in May when the Grove is due to be allowed to open.

“We hope when they are open you will join us in raising a glass to 50 years of CAMRA.”