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Published on August 21st, 2013 | by Nottingham Drinker


Nottingham CAMRA reaches the grand old age of 40 this year

It all began with a small ad in the Nottingham Evening Post.

“Any beer drinkers interested in forming a local branch of the fledgling Campaign for Real Ale please meet at the Barley Mow in Basford on Wednesday 13th August 1973”.

Approximately 15 people turned up (it was obviously a bit hazy by the end), and after much debate a chairman was chosen and importantly at the end of the meeting a vote was held as to whether or not cheese sandwiches should be provided at the next meeting.

All those years ago Nottingham could still boast three family breweries: Home Brewery in Daybrook; James Shipstone and Sons’ iconic Star Brewery in Basford and the Kimberley Brewery of Hardys & Hansons – not to mention the Mansfield Brewery just up the A60.

Sadly however, it would not be long before the branch would start to vigorously campaign against the loss of these as they were swallowed up in turn by larger, predatory brewing companies, ultimately with not a lot of success.

One of the earliest chairman of the Branch was a business studies lecturer from Trent Polytechnic by the name of Chris Holmes, who went on to be elected national chairman of the Campaign for several years.

Chris, with the energetic backing of the Nottingham Branch of CAMRA, opened a free house in Newark,the Old King’s Arms, Chris eventually sold the pub to Marstons and it provided the finance to help establish the Tynemill chain of free houses, (which nowadays operate under the Castle Rock banner).

Back in the 1970s, following decades of aggressive takeovers and closures, the industry was utterly dominated by just six companies such as Bass and Whitbread. With little left of Nottingham’s brewing heritage, Phil Mallard, in the garden of his house in Carlton, set up the first of the new breed of breweries in Nottingham, Mallard Brewery. Philip Darby and Niven Balfour who established the Bramcote Brewery in Bramcote followed this.

Due to planning difficulties they were forced to relocatea year later to the building at the side of the Vat and Fiddle, renaming the business in the process as Castle Rock Brewery and subsequently moving to set up Nottingham Brewery in 2002 behind the Plough in Radford.

In 1975, Nottingham Branch played host to one of the earliest national AGMs of the Campaign, an honour, incidentally, that we will be repeating in 2015, this also entailed the staging a real ale beerfestival for thirsty delegates. This in turn led to the establishment of an annual event thrown open to the general public, which for many years was held at the Victoria Leisure Centre in Sneinton, prior to its highly successful relocation to the Nottingham Castle grounds.

The ever-improving development of the Nottingham Drinker during the intervening years has mirrored the progress the Nottingham Branch of CAMRA itself has achieved in this time to become not only the largest by membership within the Campaign, but also developing initiatives such as the LocAle scheme. One fact that has remained steadfast over the years is the support, hard work and commitment, from the members and volunteers who make up Nottingham CAMRA. Without them we would not be able to celebrate our 40th birthday.

And what better way to celebrate 40 years of campaigning in Nottingham than with a Ruby Beer of 4.0%. Say hello to Ruby, Ruby, Ruby. A new Cask Ale brewed by three committee members of Nottingham CAMRA to mark the anniversary of the branch.

The brewery team at Nottingham Brewery worked with Ray Kirby, Ru Murdoch and Alan Ward of Nottingham CAMRA to create this birthday celebration Beer that we hope you all get a chance to try before it runs out.

The beer will be available on Thursday 29th August at the Nottingham CAMRA Branch meeting to be held in the Trent Bridge Inn as well as at 35 other outlets listed below.

– BREAD & BITTER,Mapperley

– BROADWAY, Nottingham

– BUNKERS HILL, Nottingham

– CAST, Nottingham

– COMPANY INN, Nottingham

– CROSS KEYS, Nottingham

– CROWN, Beeston

– DEWDROP, Ilkeston Junction

– DOCTOR’S ORDERS, Carrington

– EMBANKMENT, Nottingham


– GATE, Awsworth

– HAND & HEART, Nottingham

– HORN IN HAND, Nottingham

– HORSE & GROOM, Basford

– JUST BEER, Newark


–LANGTRYS, Nottingham


– LION, Basford –

LORD CLYDE, Kimberley

– MAJOR OAK, Nottingham

– MALT CROSS, Nottingham

– NEWSHOUSE, Nottingham

–OLD ANGEL, Nottingham

– ORGAN GRINDER, Canning Circus

– PLOUGH, Radford

– ROEBUCK,Nottingham

– SAMUEL HALL, Sherwood

– STRATFORD HAVEN, West Bridgford

– THREE CROWNS, Ruddington

– TRENT BRIDGE INN, West Bridgford


-VAT & FIDDLE, Meadows

– VICTORIA, Beeston.

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