THE man who breathed new life into Sunderland’s oldest pub today urged customers to “use it or lose it.”
Steve Clark, 50, has reopened The Clarendon in High Street East as The Butchers Arms and is backing a call by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) for pubs to be supported during the post-New Year period.
Camra is warning the lack of trade in traditionally-quiet January could be the “nail in the coffin” for struggling pubs, which are closing at the rate of 26 a week.
The Clarendon’s licence dates back to 1753 and there was a Clarendon Hotel on the site as early as 1724.
It has also traded as the Hare and Hound, the Cropt Fox, the Crown Inn and the Board, before becoming the Clarendon Hotel again in 1865.
Steve Clark is renting The Butchers Arms from former boss John Taylor, who now runs the micro-brewery at Beamish Hall’s Stables pub.
“As soon as I saw the ‘To let’ sign up, I just thought it looked like a good prospect,” he said.
“It is the Butchers Arms for a reason – I have been involved in the meat trade all my life, so it was fitting that I chose the name.”
Steve is in no doubt there is still a place for the well-run community boozer.
“We are a welcoming, family pub,” he said.
“We have retained the real ales which have always been so popular here and we are putting on what this pub has been very well-known for, which is live music.
“What people have got to do is to support their local pub – community pubs, pubs on council estates – they have got to use these places or they will lose them.”
Camra is sending out promotional packs to thousands of pubs to help them attract punters.
Pubs employ more than 500,000 workers and, together with the beer industry, add £19 billion a year to the UK economy.
Recent months have seen some of Wearside’s best-known names close or under threat.
Houghton’s historic Houghton Golden Lion, thought to be more than 300 years old, shut its doors in August, leaving White Lion as the last of the town’s four famous lion pubs.
Varsity, based in the Galen Buildings in Green Terrace, closed in December, with the loss of 13 jobs.
The venue had been at risk since owner the Bramwell Pub Company went into administration. Others pubs owned by the firm – Chaplins, Chesters and The Blue Bell in Sunderland, as well as Varsity in Durham – have been saved by new operators.