I was somewhat miffed and surprised the other day, when I was asked, why I hadn't reviewed a boozer in Blackburn town centre, for my weekly pub review in the Lancashire Telegraph?
I paused for a second, then said: "Well how many drinking dens in the town centre serve real ale - apart from Wetherspoon's? He said: "To be honest, can't think of any, apart from an Irish Bar - but name escapes me."
Hmm...kind of answers the question, without wanting to appear a tad flippant.
Blackburn town centre, it's sad to report, really is a real ale 'desert'. A town where brewer,Thwaites, has its brewery and headquarters. A town centre where you will struggle to find a Thwaites pub. I think there is only three - one of which I reviewed a couple of days ago - just to please one or two readers of my column.
The pub, The Jubilee, sits across from the King George's Hall.
Ken Dodd had been on the previous weekend. However, unlike Doddy's 'Show of Happiness', most days in the Jubilee, or indeed, other Blackburn town centre pubs, their share of happiness, is not really the greatest thing that they possess.
John the landlord at the pub explained that passing trade during the week was virtually non-existent. He said: " There are no night clubs in town now, so it can be dead late on. Sunday, can be so quiet, I'm sometimes close by eight. I have to
organise lots of entertainment. We have karaoke twice a week.
However, if it wasn't for the students from the nearby college and the customers, attending shows across the road, we would probably be closed.
It seems hard to believe that Thwaites now only have three of their pubs in the town centre. Ironically, neighbouring town, Darwen, less than a quarter of the size, has many thriving pubs in and around their relatively small town centre. And Padiham, an even smaller town, of just ten thousand souls, ten miles from Blackburn, has three Thwaites pub's along a one hundred yard
I am sure you can echo similar problems in hunting down real ale dens, in towns up and down the country. Perhaps some of you don't realise how bad the situation had become? I certainly didn't realise that Blackburn brewer, Thwaites, had almost become a non-existent species, in their own town centre.
So, if you are coming to Blackburn town centre for any reason,
and you fancy popping-in a few real ale boozers, you will be disappointed. Apart from a soulless Wetherspoon's next t'Cathedral, The Jubilee, with two hand pumps( ale in great nick though,on my recent visit), and a couple of other Thwaites pubs. Blackburn town centre, is without doubt, no place to navigate a real ale trail - cos there ain't one.