from London Drinker - April/May 2016.
I am sad to announce the passing of Paul, at the age of 63, following a short illness.
Before family responsibilities prevailed, Paul was an active member of CAMRA’s South West London Branch.
He was a considerate, thoughtful and dryly witty man whose company many of us very much enjoyed.
Paul was the branch representative for, and a keen promoter of the pubs in the Mitcham area, to which he also distributed London Drinker.
He worked at many of the branch’s beer festivals at Battersea where he happily took on a number of unglamorous jobs, such as van driving and cleaning down sticky bar counters, the sort of volunteer who festival organisers really value. He also worked behind the bar at the Kingston beer festival.
Paul was a regular letter writer to both What’s Brewing and the local press. It was pleasing to see that at last something had started to happen with one of his major concerns, the Burn Bullock pub in Mitcham. Let us hope that it does eventually re-open as a viable pub which will stand as a fitting memorial.
Paul's funeral was on Thursday 11th February 2016. We send our condolences to his family.
from London Drinker - Dec 2009/Jan 2010.
When I was asked to do this I just didn’t know where to begin, so I’ll begin at the beginning. I met Rod when the Sultan first reopened as a Hop Back pub back in the early 90s. We were bound to become friends: we both drank dark beer, we both were members of CAMRA, we both smoked, were both computer geeks and both married to women called Diana.
We became very good friends. We would sit and bore the pants off people with computer talk scattered amidst the beer talk or was it beer talk amidst the computer talk — either way I’m sure we bored the pants off people.
Although at that time Rod was a CAMRA member he was not really that active then but enjoyed beer festivals as a customer where I would constantly run into him. Eventually in the late 90s I persuaded Rod at GBBF to work the next Battersea where he worked on the foreign beer bar. He thoroughly enjoyed himself and so I asked if he would like to work with me at Catford later that year. That was his introduction to stewarding. This of course, like everything else Rod set his mind to do, he took in his stride like a true womble. So that year he worked his first GBBF where the name ‘Orinoco’ was given to him for some unknown reason.
From that time he worked nearly ever beer festival he could in and around London, becoming chief steward at many with devotion and commitment that, together with his hats, became his trademark. He became an active member of the local branch, serving as membership secretary, and sat on the festival committee for many years. He also picked up the London Drinkers for the Wimbledon area, something he enjoyed if the mild or old was on. I am sure that not only the people he worked with but also many of the customers will surely miss his presence around the London circuit, his relaxed nature and thoughtful regard to co-workers and customers alike.
Sadly he was taken from us in his home on Thursday 22 October with a massive heart attack, leaving his wife Diana, son Tom and daughter Rosie. He will be surely missed by everyone who knew him as he was able to touch so many people’s lives for the better. I know for one there will always be a hole in my life from now on.
Goodbye old friend.
Many people attended Rod’s funeral on Thursday 5 November 2009 at Lambeth Crematorium. There was a reception afterwards at The Brewery Tap in Wimbledon Village.
Donations in Rod’s memory can still be made to the Red Cross through Just Giving [www.justgiving.com/Rod-Ellery-Red-Cross-Donations].
from London Drinker - April/May 2009.
Bert died unexpectedly of a heart attack on 23 February 2009, aged 76. ‘Stalwart’ is a word often used in CAMRA obituaries. The dictionary definition is ‘sturdy, resolute and determined’ and that certainly applied to Bert. Whilst most who knew him will remember him for his unstinting efforts at Battersea, London Drinker and various other festivals, let us not overlook the man himself. He was the nicest and most decent of men. The following remembrance has been put together by his close friends Chris Cobbold and Roger Owen.
Albert Samuel Field was born in January 1933 at the Elephant & Castle although he spent some years in Devon as an evacuee. He left school at 14 and joined the Southern Railway as a messenger at Nine Elms depot. Apart from his National Service, split between Yorkshire and Benghazi in Libya, Bert spent his whole working life on the railway. In many ways, the railway was his life. He was amongst the last firemen to have the honour of having his name painted in the cab of his locomotive, 35019 French Line CGT. Bert was, however, a practical man and changed over to become a motorman at Peckham Rye in 1958. As an ASLEF shop steward he was given the nickname ‘Keyhole Kate’ for his campaign to have cab keyholes that caused draughts covered over.
Bert married Pat in 1955 - during a strike - and they had two sons, Brian and Phillip. Bert’s main aim in life was to provide for his family and he secured their future in the form of a fine house in Herne Hill.
Bert had many interests which he shared with his many and various friends. He was particularly fond of German beer and Bavaria became his spiritual home. He visited every year for 20 years, originally with Roger and latterly with Chris. Roger has particular memories of the Matteisa Beer Hall, alas now a shopping mall, where they would bribe the band with bottles of scotch. He was particularly fond of weisse beers, especially Karg Dunkelweisse from Munall. Bert was also in the various parties of ‘ne’er do wells’ - Chris’s own expression! - that Chris led around Eastern Europe from time to time. Bert also had regular canal boat trips with some old railway colleagues and, in recent years, discovered the delights of the Isle of Man. Wherever he went, Bert collected beer mats for friends who did not have his opportunities to travel. He was also a great fan of Trad Jazz and was a member of Ronnie Scott’s Club although his musical tastes were wide and he enjoyed a bit of Rock and Roll in the correct places: even pubs and beer festivals.
Bert joined CAMRA 11 years ago when he retired, to give himself something to do - and do he did! Although technically a member of South East London Branch, he met Chris early on and so became active in South West London Branch and in particular at Battersea Beer Festival. He organised the Glasses Stand for many years and he will be hard to replace. He was always amongst the first to arrive in the morning, having breakfast with Chris and Dave Plackett to look forward to the day’s efforts. Bert also really enjoyed working at London Drinker Festival where, as well as helping with the glasses, he used to chop up the French bread with gusto, as marked by all the blue plasters on his fingers! The last time I spoke to him, he said how much he was looking forward to 2009’s London Drinker.
Through Chris and Dave Paterson, Bert signed up for the GLC Real Ale Society where, typical of the man, he comfortably made yet another set of friends. He enjoyed the monthly coach trips, even the one where he got left behind but, courtesy of his railway pass, beat the coach back home.
Our thoughts are with Pat, Brian and Phillip at this difficult time. Bert will be missed by so many people.
from London Drinker - Dec 2007/Jan 2008.
’Arry Hart died in October 2007, aged 63. He’d had cancer. I first met him and Sue in 1975. They had been together since meeting at Bath University in 1967 and married in Wandsworth Town Hall in 1970, visiting pubs in Brighton on their honeymoon.
’Arry just loved pubs. With Sue, over the last forty years, he probably visited more of them in London, the UK and round the world, than anyone else I know. Sue tells me that everywhere in the house are scraps of paper, maps with pubs marked on, embryonic pub crawls sketched out etc. all to be meticulously documented either on a card index system or latterly electronically. The pub crawls he organised for the Ring, visiting a dozen pubs or more on a Saturday evening, were a particular source of pleasure, both for ’Arry and the participants.
In an August 1973 competition, ’Arry was first to identify the spoof entry in the recently published Evening Standard Guide to London Pubs by Tony White and Martin Green. He and Sue met the authors and other entrants at the Admiral Mann for a memorable evening on Macs. CAMRA was mentioned and they joined in September, going to an all London meeting in the Two Brewers at Wandsworth in October, followed by the first West London meeting in the Express and finally the first South London meeting in the Two Brewers in November of that year. They met Tony subsequently for several pub crawls, notably in the East End, whilst organising their own crawls for CAMRA, the Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood (SPBW) and, for those who know it, the Ring.
September 1974 saw them on the first of several annual Round England Beer Drinking Trips organised by Ken Hargreaves of CAMRA’s Fylde branch and in November 1975 they helped South West London branch to organise its very first beer festival, at Wimbledon baths. Altogether they went on more than 100 brewery visits ’Arry kept all the ties - and in recent years ’Arry planned the itineraries for the annual overseas explorations of the Campaign for Authentic Lager (CAMAL).
Many readers will have known ’Arry by sight as a regular ‘face’ at pubs and beer events over the years but he was a very private person whom few would have known closely, except when riled, as he could be. When things were promised and those promises were broken, he would become quite vocal after a few beers. The spelling lesson in Dudley when he was refused orders after 2am will live in everyone’s memory. I remember Sue had to take him back to their room quickly. On another occasion he flew into a righteous lather on the Isle of Wight when told he could not redeem tokens he’d been promised were redeemable.
Many friends gathered to pay their respects at a crowded Lambeth Crematorium in Tooting on 22 October 2007, and many stories were told afterwards in the Sultan. Our thoughts are with Sue, who has shared these precious memories. We look forward to many more ‘good old sessions’ together! Chris Cobbold
from London Drinker - June/July 2007.
We are sad to report the unexpected death in March 2007 of Peter Smith. Peter was an active member of South West London Branch until he moved to Reading several years ago. He still returned each year however to do duty as a bar manager at Battersea Beer Festival, as well as working at Reading Beer Festival where the Quiet Tent in 2007 was named "Smithy’s Bar" in his honour. Peter was also an early and active member of the Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood (SPBW).
Peter’s approach to campaigning for real ale was to drink as much of it as possible. Former South West London Chairman Laurie Bishop remembers Peter as a very committed character who had a special ability to puncture inflated egos, especially, in the late 1970s, those of visiting National Executive members. Laurie also recalls Peter’s ability to always find a good pub anywhere, and not always a GBG-listed one. Peter was renowned for his ability to put together tours of groups of rural pubs using only public transport and his legs.
Peter did not do things by half. In his obituary in What’s Brewing, John Dearling mentions Peter setting out to read his way through the top 100 books in literary history from a list found in a national newspaper. It is understood that he had almost finished this project.
Mike Moran of SW London Branch remembers him taking to opera in a similar fashion and attending performances of the major works in record time, with what Mike describes as a Teutonic passion. Peter also did the Young’s 135 round regularly, once in a week and a half. He also did the Harvey’s and Fuller’s equivalents several times.
Another story concerns a large, two-handled beer glass - possibly a double quart - that Peter spotted in a pub in the Midlands. Peter had it filled but was challenged by a local that he wouldn’t finish it. The local left and returned to find Peter with an inch or so of beer left in the glass. The local was jubilant that he has been right about Peter not being able to finish it until the pub guv’nor pointed out that Peter was on his third.
I remember Peter as a great sporting man with a keen interest in cricket, rugby and, not least, horse racing. He was going racing the day he died. He was also a great raconteur and my favourite story of Peter’s comes from his surveying for the South West London Pub Guide in 1996. He went into a dubious pub in Battersea and, as part of the survey, asked the barman if they ever had any special events at the pub. The reply was, "Well, a bloke was mugged in the toilets the other lunchtime". I have also been told a story concerning a duck but I will leave that one there.
Some 80 friends attended Peter’s funeral, with both SW London and Reading Branches of CAMRA well represented as well as the SPBW, and he was given the sort of send-off that he would have wanted.
Photo: Frantzesco Kangaris/Wandsworth Borough News