Friday 20 April 2018

Cheers! Pub crawl team closes in on 300,000-mile mark

The Black Country Ale Tairsters at the Railway Tavern in Kidderminster on February 21 1988 (Pete Hill/PA)
The Black Country Ale Tairsters at the Railway Tavern in Kidderminster on February 21 1988 (Pete Hill/PA)

Britain's most committed pub-crawlers are confident 2016 will see them smash the 300,000-mile barrier - after an epic 32-year tour of more than 18,000 boozers.

The West Bromwich-based Black Country Ale Tairsters (local dialect for tasters) began visiting about 300 ale houses listed on a map issued by Wolverhampton brewer Banks's in 1984.

Despite some members having to bed down in a graveyard for the night after their initial visit to a pub in Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth, the group went on to complete the Banks's list over the next ten months.

The organisation's co-founder Pete Hill was among those who then considered calling it a day before opting to darken the door of more than 1,000 pubs in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

Mr Hill recalled: "After Hereford and Worcester we were going to finish up and my dad said 'Shall we go and do something different? We could go around the coastline of Great Britain and visit every county in England, Scotland and Wales'.

"That took four years - we drove right round the coast and stopped at a pub where we could."

From 1991 the group - which began with more than a dozen regulars - moved its focus to 12 Midlands counties before embarking on a seven-year tour of every pub in Wales in 2006.

Casting his eye over the prospects for 2016 while nursing a pint at the Tame Bridge pub in Tipton, West Midlands, Mr Hill acknowledges that hitting a 19,000th pub will be out of reach in the coming year.

"From here to Nottingham, I have been in every pub," Mr Hill said. "To find a new pub going east we need to get to Cambridgeshire, going north it's Chester and going south it'd be Swindon.

"They are the nearest places where we can 'register' a new pub. Just to visit one new pub now is an 180 to 200-mile round trip."

But Mr Hill, a retired engineer whose father Joe died in 2014 after fulfilling his ambition of "conquering" Wales, is confident the 300,000-mile marker will be passed.

The drinker, who has personally knocked back around 43,000 pints during the Tairsters' odyssey, added: "I record all the mileage we do and what we drink.

"I imagine we will pass it (a cumulative 300,000 miles) because we are planning visits to every pub in Nottinghamshire in aid of Nottingham Children's hospital - with Retford in north Nottinghamshire starting our journey.

"I record every type of drink, whether it's lager, Guinness or the name of a real ale - everything is recorded and we celebrate everything!"

Members of the group, including stalwarts John Drew, 52, and 71-year-old Malcolm Maynard, collect money for hospital charities during their travels by asking for donations from landlords.

Their tour of Wales raised about £11,000 and the men recently handed a cheque for more than £3,000 to the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust.

Press Association

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