Saturday, 18 May 2019


A news story broke in August last year about the fate of the landlord of the Blue Bell in York. Briefly, Punch Taverns had served the owner, John Pybus, with a termination of his lease and an eviction notice from the pub. 

John had exercised his legal right as the tenant of the city centre pub to negotiate a fair market rent and opt out of the beer tie, which would have meant he had to buy all his beer from the pubco at inflated prices.

Punch wanted to bring in a manager rather than a landlord and it was felt this would change the way the pub was run. The York branch of Camra launched a petition which was signed by 6500 including me. The petition  was a success. John signed a 6 year lease in 2018.

Fast forward to last week. making use of a special offer from Transpennine Express we decided on a day trip to York. Booking the tickets I recalled the above story and suggested to Mrs Ken I would like to visit the pub as had never been.
The Blue Bell has been a pub since 1798 and was listed as a Grade II listed building in 1954.  It can be found in Fossgate, about 15 minutes walk from York Station.

When we arrived in the tiny front bar there was one customer (who turned out to be a bit of a motormouth) chatting to the barman, (who turned out to be American) There was a good selection of ales and I asked for a pint of Rudgate Mild. The guy did the right thing and said he would top it up when it had settled. Now how many don't do that ?  

Sensing an opportunity I said I had signed the petition and did they give discount for the signee's ?.  No - was the reply..well it was worth a try.

The motormouth was still  spouting forth about beer and trains, and whilst both are my favourite subjects, it got a bit wearing after 10 minutes. 

Making my excuses to take some pictures of the other room, I left the Mrs to it and had a nosey in the back room (smoke room) , which was slightly bigger than the bar. There were 4 guys in; and they soon left which gave me an excuse to drag Mrs out of the bar for some more pictures. There were plenty of notices adorning the walls, most of which were interesting and in  character. What wasn't was a list of house rules on a laminated sheet. One of the rules was to bar large groups of visitors as the pub was too small, so no hen parties of bachelor nights. Fair enough I suppose. You could actually class this place as a micropub as its a coversation only place. I did like the cash only and the lager boy signs   however.

After a pint we left to do some touristy stuff. Outside Mrs Ken came out with some priceless female logic 
" Why is the pub called The Blue Bell and painted red ?"

Er ...the bell is blue *.

* I feel an article for our branch magazine coming on, "The meaning of pub names"

PS - 

Before we got to the Blue Bell we had a lunchtime curry in the nearby Wetherspoon's, One of the beers they had one was new to me, Great Heck Apocalypse Brau - strong ruby red fruity beer, a lot like Owd Rodger. Fantastic ! Its a seasonal but try it if you see it !

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