Friday, February 20, 2009

A Yorkshire pub affected by flooding in 2007 has been named CAMRA‘s National Pub of the Year for 2008.

The Kelham Island Tavern in Sheffield‘s Kelham Island Quarter was in a “semi derelict” state when it was purchased in 2001. After it was re-opened in 2002 by licensee Trevor Wraith and manager Lewis Gonda, business quickly picked up and the pub has been awarded Sheffield CAMRA’s local Pub of the Year award for the past four years. The pub won the award despite six weeks of closure a year and a half ago when the pub’s cellar and floor were affected by the flooding of the River Don and the nearby Kelham goit. The pub also received Yorkshire CAMRA’s Pub of the Year award in 2004 and 2007.

They just wanted to keep on drinking, but we did have to get them out eventually and some of them did get wet.

CAMRA’s Pub of the Year award is judged in several stages, with local CAMRA branches evaluating the pubs in their area and passing on recommendations for regional championships. The list of regional champions is then whittled down to four finalists, with CAMRA judges visiting each of these anonymously before making a final decision.

The pub regularly serves ten and often up to thirteen Real Ales, and variety and quality of beers served are of particular interest to CAMRA, which was founded in 1971 in order to preserve and promote traditional British beer and pubs, which the group see as threatened.

However, other considerations beyond range and variety of beers are also important. Julian Hough, CAMRA’s Pubs Director, made particular note of the Tavern’s “attention to detail”. Mr Wraith also pointed out the pub’s “sub-tropical” beer garden, which he calls his “pride and joy”; the pub was awarded Silver Gilts in the Yorkshire In Bloom competition every year since 2003 and has received the Gold Award in the local Sheffield In Bloom competition every year since 2005. The pub also regularly hosts evenings of folk music.

Mr Gonda credited the pub’s success to the “excellent brewers we deal with, our faithful and supportive pub regulars, and our invaluable staff members.” It was this community support which helped the pub recover so quickly after the 2007 flooding, with Mr Wraith describing the day the waters entered the pub. “The funny thing was that it was difficult to get the customers to evacuate. They just wanted to keep on drinking, but we did have to get them out eventually and some of them did get wet.” Flood defences were erected after the customers left, but to no avail; Mr Wraith stayed in the pub overnight, despite the flooding and the lack of electricity.

The pub will be presented with the award in a ceremony later today at 1pm GMT.

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