Generally, the hospitality industry is cutthroat and fast paced, a constant competition to keep up with trends and modern consumer behaviour. While Devizes is like any other town, with pubs and restaurants striving to be the next big thing, that culture is subtle at the best of times, most folk of our bustling but quaint Wiltshire market town crave precisely the opposite. Let’s be honest with ourselves here, we think its ‘nice’ when something new crops up, but secretly we don’t fully embrace change and modernisation, rather we favour tradition and dependability; that’s what gives Devizes its simplicity and charm.
One such mainstay is the freehouse, the British Lion, shortened to “the British,” to locals. It’s never changed as long as I’ve known it and been here. It focuses on an ‘if it isn’t broken it doesn’t need fixing” ethos, breathing tradtion through its rafters. The British Lion is a fixed institution, a pub of reliability; what you see is what you get, and you know full well what to expect. The landlord, Mike has run it since the dawn of civilisation, the efficiency, ambince and philosophy remains as it always was. And that’s why we congratulate it today, for having been awarded a Golden award as part of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) Official 50th anniversary celebrations. Well done to Mike and the team at the British, and throughly well deserved.
CAMRA awards director explained, “winners were chosen for their successes in standing the test of time; for being characterful and community-focused, and for consistently pouring great pints. I applaud these pubs for their dedication, for being community stalwarts and campaigning heroes.”
One of only three pubs in the entire South West region to win the award, the British Lion’s key feature, other than it’s steeping tradition and splendid and spacious beer garden, is it’s dedication to bringing its punters a wide selection of beverages, often unavailable elsewhere in town, and supportive of smaller brewers.
To walk into the British and suddenly find its changed into a neon, glitzy wine bar would be utterly unbelievable to locals, who’ve relied on this mainstay in our pub culture for so long, and everyone has an amusing story to tell about a particular night, or other, in this fine establishment where nothing is over-complicated, or striving to keep up with the Jones’s. And, might I say, through “black rat monday,” to many fond memories in there myself, long may it live on!