What's happening to all the pubs in Broadgate? When we moved here in 2002 there were at least four plus the Bridge Inn just across the river. Now that is the only one left open and even it has a sign up saying "To Let".
The Conti has been closed for a year or so but at least now the builders are in and there are some signs of refurbishment. Does anyone know what is planned or if and when and in what style it will be reopening?
Why are they all closing down? Not just in Broadgate but throughout Preston and across the country. In March 2007 The Campaign For Real Ale (Camra) said its survey, pointed to 56 pub closures every month.
It's not as if people have stopped drinking. In fact doctors are extremely concerned with the increasing damage alcohol is doing to the nation's health. The number of alcohol-related deaths more than doubled from 4,144 in 1991 to 8,758 in 2006.
Rather it's that the culture of boozing has changed. A few decades ago people (mainly men) tended to pop down to the local for a "quick half" two or three times a week and maybe had a few pints at the weekend. These days people of both sexes are more likely to go up town on Friday and Saturday night and drink themselves sick in bars and clubs which stay open till the early hours of the morning. While another kind of drinker buys as much as they can as cheap as they can from the off license or supermarket and brings them home to consume in front of the telly, or out in the streets.
Maybe it's just that alcohol is too cheap, in the shops and in the city centre bars so that pubs just can't make a profit. Some people also blame the smoking ban, though for some of us it was smoke filled rooms that used to deter us from going in or staying long in many locals.
There probably never was a golden age of the British pub. In the 18th and 19th Centuries gin palaces and public houses were responsible for much suffering and degradation. Joseph Livesey set up his Temperance Movement in Preston in March 1832 and spent the rest of his long life crusading against the evils of drink.
However, at its best the local pub did and could provide a friendly hub for local community life. It would be good to think that Broadgate could support at least one such place where people could get together for a drink and a chat, maybe a game of darts, and a simple meal, without the need to get paralytic. I hope a reopened Conti might be something as good as that. and please let's hope it serves some decent real ale.