According to The Guardian, since 2001, 25% of UK pubs have closed, leaving many communities without a central hub; somewhere they can meet, chat, debate, drink and have fun.
This is a real tragedy, both for those communities and those coming of drinking age, who will never know the real pleasure of having your own 'Local'. If you do still have one in your life, please use it often and cherish it, you'll really miss it, if it goes.
Samuel’s own local Pub; the Royal Oak in Chapeltown (Sheffield! I hasten to add, not the 'lively' Chapeltown in Leeds) was one of those Pubs.
Having stood on Station road since the 17th Century, it traded as a pub for over two hundred years. Sadly it didn't survive the smoking ban, the increase in Beer prices and the greed of the new pub conglomerates'. "Last Orders" were finally called in late 2013.
Samuel first entered the Royal Oak as a 'fresh-faced' 18 year old in 1988, looking for a job behind the bar. Very quickly he fell in love with the place; it was a brilliant place to work, loved the atmosphere, the staff and the customers. At the weekends it had up to nine staff behind its small L-shaped bar, with customers filling the pub and the car park, it was constantly busy.
The Royal Oak became his 'Alma Mater'; in the 19 years he worked and drank there, he learned a lot about life, love and friendship. Many happy hours were spent around the fireplace drinking Castle Eden (and later Boddingtons), talking and having fun. He made several life-long friends and has lots of treasured memories of the fun and great times and of friends long-gone, but never forgotten.
RIP the fabulous Landlord Geoff Clarke. Heart like a lion, principled, honest, kind, fabulous fun and a great friend who always had your back. Much missed!
Sadly, it all came to an end. Samuel got transferred with work to Gibraltar in 2007 and visited sporadically, noting how Chapeltown and the pub were gradually getting quieter....
In the next six years it went through a series of Landlords and Managers. Finally the ‘Brewery’ sold it to a development Company, with a heartless covenant preventing it from being used again as Licensed Premises.
It's been unbelievably sad to see the building and its character ripped apart, but at least the memories endure.
A truly sad end to a great 'Local' - Rest In Peace.