The Magazine of the BLACKPOOL, FYLDE & WYRE Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale



Only a few years ago, the Victoria in St Annes seemed to be facing almost certain demolition. On Tuesday 28th July, we made the Grand Old Lady our Autumn Pub of the Season. What a testimony to the Power of the People and the Newfound Faith of the “Spirit”!

When the Spirit pub company decided back in 2011 to try and sell the Vic to a property developer, so it could be replaced with flats, a group of local activists calling themselves the “Victoria Hotel Community Association” sprung into action to stop them. It was a long and bitter struggle – a real David v Goliath one – and, against all the odds, the VHCA triumphed (with the support of this Branch). However, relations between the two “camps” remained problematic. The VHCA’s energetic support for the pub was undimmed, though, and they have continued to organise all sorts of fund raising and social activities. Maybe that faith was infectious, for Spirit (soon to become part of Greene King) seemed to see a new light and, in 2014, embarked on a £ 300 k refurbishment of the pub. It was probably the most significant investment in the place since it was first built back in 1897, and it has transformed it – inside and out, providing much better catering and, above all, more real ales!

It was obviously this last that caught our attention, although, in truth, the manager, Jordan Sadler, had been working on the pub’s real ale quality since he first arrived 17 months ago – helped in this by his cellar

manager, Cliff Thompson. So we thought it was high time all this good work was properly recognised.

The Branch award was made to Jordan by
Rick Pickup, one of our Pubs Officers. He paid tribute to all that had been achieved. “The beer range and quality are really good. After all the dangers of the recent past, the pub is now refurbished and refreshed.” Jordan was delighted and thanked the Branch. “We are planning to put some hand pumps into the vaults and introduce ‘real’ lagers. Things are going well and we can maybe even think now of challenging the likes of the Taps !” (We await Mr Norris’s views on this with interest.)

It was only appropriate that some members of the VHCA should be present to witness this fruition of their labours. Founder members, Bruce and Caroline Goodridge, said they were thrilled. Equally appropriate was the separate award made to Jordan by a well known CAMRA and VHCA stalwart, Dave Wood – a 1923 photo of the St Anne pierhead, designed by the architect of the Vic, Dent Harker. (How does Dave unearth this kind of stuff ?!)

It was even more appropriate that the presentation should be made in the re-opened pub vault, where we continued with our Branch monthly meeting. Jordan says the snooker room is also back in full swing, which seems so reminiscent of the heyday of pub snooker on the Fylde.

At last, Victoria has cast off her widow’s weeds and, with a nod to the past, turned her head to the Future!

Neil Pascoe

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