What became of the South Herts real ale pubs that featured in the 1975 (and first) edition of the “Real Beer in Hertfordshire” guide?

Written by Les Middlewood

In 1975, Hertfordshire CAMRA produced its first ever local guide to real ale – a fold-out leaflet comprising a list of pubs, plus a map, steering the growing band of real ale drinkers to the few pubs that were still offering traditional cask ale, either served straight from the barrel or via handpump. In total the guide listed a little over 100 county pubs – a figure that represented just one in ten of the pubs open at the time.

Like in most of the country, Hertfordshire drinkers were being strangled in the grip of the Big Brewers of the day, who paid little notice to the wishes of beer drinkers, with the arrogance of “we know what’s best for you”. Most Family Brewers found themselves caught between the tradition of their own fine ales and the onset of top-pressure and keg beers – many veering to follow the ways that the Big Brewers were, so quickly, foisting on drinkers.

But too quick! CAMRA helped Britain’s beer drinkers rediscover their brewing heritage and awakened them to the great beers that were out there, if increasingly hard to find. The shoots of the real ale revival were beginning to show…

Much has changed in the 45 years since that time, but what happened to the 26 South Herts pubs that featured in that very first Real Draught Beer in Hertfordshire guide – are they still alive?

Location Pub In 1975 Owned By Over the Years and Now…
Amwell Elephant & Castle Ind Coope Bought by Greene King it continued over the years as an attractive and popular rural pub. In 2020 it is now leased to local brewer Farrbrew offering their cask ales.
Ayot St Lawrence Brocket Arms Free House Some accommodation additions but still a characterful and atmospheric village Free House, selling a range of real ales.
Burnham Green White Horse Ind Coope Much altered inside and out and now owned by McMullen’s, set by the village green, with a selection of their real ales.
Chapmore End Woodman Greene King Still in its charming hamlet location and largely unchanged (but now with an added conservatory). A Free House with beers still served direct from the barrel.
Elstree Battleaxes Trust Houses Was soon transformed into more of an eating venue – now a Chef and Brewer – but still offers a choice of real ales.
Epping Green Beehive Ind Coope Taken over by Greenall Whitley but now a rural Free House with real ale – currently closed in 2020 whilst major works are completed. Re-opening soon.
Flamstead End Plough McMullen Knocked into one bar but still a vibrant Mac’s community pub with handpumped Mac’s AK Original Mild.
Hertford Bell & Crown McMullen An early CAMRA small and basic real ale favourite which sadly closed in 1990 – the site now residential.
Hertford Saracens Head Ind Coope Much altered inside into one bar – the once-hidden long garden now fully utilised. Owned by the Punch pub company normally with two real ales.
Hertford White Horse Free House An early CAMRA real ale oasis. Beams were exposed and additions made in the 1980s, enhancing its charm. Since 1999 owned by Fullers, offering many real ales.
Lemsford Sun Ind Coope In the heart of the village – now in the hands of the Heineken pub company with a number of real ales. A popular pub which has developed a large restaurant.
Redbourn Cricketers Ind Coope Opposite the village green and cricket pitch, still with a small front bar. Now a Free House with a first-floor restaurant and range of real ales.
St Albans Farriers Arms McMullen Held CAMRA’s first Herts Branch meeting in 1972 and remains almost entirely unspoilt as a small community pub. Now a Free House offering 2 or 3 real ales.
St Albans Lower Red Lion Free House An early CAMRA convert to real ale. Little has changed in the pleasant bars – still a characterful Free House in picturesque Fishpool Street with a range of real ales.
Shenley Pinks Hotel Free House A bar in a country hotel and grounds, close to the M25. Closed in 1998 – now converted to residential apartments.
Tyttenhanger Barley Mow Free House Once the real ale pub to visit in Herts with 18 real ales. The isolated pub sadly lost its way via Grand Metropolitan, then became a Free House once again, finally closing in 1998. Demolished for housing.
Ware Cannon Tavern McMullen A small street community pub which closed in 2014 – put to residential use.
Ware Millstream McMullen A tiny community pub which closed in 1998 – now converted to housing.
Ware Punch House Greene King Now much enlarged and opened-out, incorporating the former pub next-door, it is still a Greene King house with a range of real ales.
Ware Rose & Crown McMullen Knocked into one bar but remains a lively and friendly McMullen community pub with a selection of Mac’s real ales.
Ware Spread Eagle McMullen Still a small unobtrusive McMullen town-centre pub close to Ware railway station – with Mac’s AK Original Mild.
Welwyn Baron of Beef McMullen Became a Free House called The Baron for a time, but closed in the 2000’s – now a residential property.
Welwyn Rose & Crown Ind Coope For many years stopped selling real ale. Owned by the Star pub company. it closed in mid-2020 to undergo major work. Re-opening date to be confirmed.
Welwyn White Hart Whitbread Another early CAMRA favourite inherited by Punch Taverns. With significant internal alterations it is now owned by Charles Wells, with a range of real ales.
Wildhill Woodman Free House A traditional multi-winning Branch Pub of the Year set in the hollow of a small hamlet. Very popular in real ale circles, it offers a changing range of cask beers.
Wormley Woodman McMullen Now the Woodman & Olive – a timbered Free House with a predominantly restaurant feel and a large well-kept garden. Often has McMullen real ales.

August 2020

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