P10 Last updated 9th March 2014
About the Branch
Early DaysThe branch was re-launched in its present guise in 1980, but can trace its roots back to the days of the Campaign for the Revitalisation of Ale in the early 1970's and the original Fylde Branch, formed in 1974.
Sad DeclineThe pub in which the first BLACKPOOL FYLDE & WYRE branch meeting was held, the Kings Arms, suffered even more than most Blackpool pubs over the years. From being a Higsons pub, under Boddingtons it first became a "fun" pub called Sam's Bar and was later turned into an unsuccessful Ale House under its original name. With the demise of Boddingtons as a pub owning chain, the pub became part of Basil Newby's pink empire, and was for a while a gay pub called the Flying Handbag. Finally the Handbag and the nearby and sorely missed Wheatsheaf were demolished as part of Blackpool's regeneration plan; both have made way for the new Sainsbury store.
What Now?What does the branch have going for it? It did seem, on the face of it, rather little given the closure as long ago as 1974 of the Fylde coasts last major brewery (the former Catterall and Swarbrick), the dominant presence of national brewery products and some truly horrific fizz palaces around the Golden Mile and elsewhere. The simple answer is people who appreciate a good pint. For many years there was no brewery in the branch area, but now things are better.
Success and Failure?For several years there was a truly excellent micro brewery in the form of Hart, based at in Little Eccleston at the rear of the The Cartford Hotel, several times winner of West Pennines Pub of The Year. When the Cartford Hotel changed hands, the brewery found new premises in Preston.
In November 2000 the Blackpool Brewing Company finally started brewing in part of the old Co-op Dairy building in Blackpool. Unfortunately they were beset with problems almost from day one, when the brand new fermenting vessels collapsed due to a design flaw.
Financial problems overtook the brewery a year or so later. The company continued trading, and for a while all the beer came from Barnsley. Later the Blackpool brewery produced the Barnsley beers, but finally the brewery closed permanently.
New BrewsTwo new breweries have considerably brightened the prospects for real ale lovers on the Fylde.
First came Fuzzy Duck, brewing its duck themed beers in Poulton. The worst was feared when brewer Ben Croston was involved in a serious road accident. Happily he made a full recovery and now the brewery now produces a range of beers, in styles ranging from amber bitters to stouts, most of which have duck related names.
In Lytham the brewery of the same name started up in a spare room at the Hastings club in 2007. Having survived a devastating fire at its original premises in Lytham, the brewery is now prospering at its base in St Annes. Lytham also produces a wide range of beers from blondes to stouts, with production growing five-fold.