Posted: 7/4/2009


         With the economy in free fall, and supermarkets offering beer and wine so cheap, and the no smoking indoor ban taking effect, British pubs are in a barrel of trouble. I was in the market town of Otley earlier this week and 4 out of 20 pubs had closed in the last few months.

       When I was a student, ages ago, there used to be a pub race where students ran around Otley, drinking half a pint in each pub, turning the empty glass on top of their head, and then racing to the next pub. It would be faster-but more expensive these days.   Only pubs that offer extra, such as great priced meals, music evenings, quizzes and more, attract enough clientel.

      One of my favourites is THE THREE HULATS in Chapel Allerton, Leeds and part of the JD Wetherspoon chain, (about 650 of them) in attractive buildings,such as converted banks, cinemas, churches, post offices, even swimming baths and railway stations, with friendly service and great prices.  The other evening we just made it there at 9.55 pm before the kitchen closed, although you can still drink much later.  It was Thursday night: CURRY NIGHT. For 4.99 you could order a number of different curries and a large drink, a pint of beer for example. I fancied the Chicken Korma, and there was chicken biryani, chicken tikka masala, lamb kofta Kashmiri, Lamb rogan josh, Beef Madras, Chicken jalfrezi, Hot chicken masala, chicken vindaloo THE hottest-ever curry --can you handle this?  It's a friendly place with the regulars proping up the bars.

      Well, NO, and the chicken korma was sold out so they offered me an UPGRADE to the new LUXURY CURRIES and so MARIA the really nice assistant manager offered me a King Prawn Thai Curry: Succulent king prawns in a green Thai-style sauce with shrimp paste, coriander, lemon grass, kaffir lime zest, cumin, coconut and choi sum, served with pilau rice, naan bread, mango chutney, poppadums and a drink. SPLENDID ! I chose a pint of Strongbow cider, but there were 15 drinks to choose from, including Guinness, Fosters , Stella, Gordon's gin,various wines, Pepsi, large Lavazza coffee, tea or hot chocolate.  S-U-P-E-R-B !   I hadn't eaten lunch so I also enjoyed a mint chocolate ice cream bombe for dessert.

       Founded in 1979 by Tim Martin, (and named after a former school teacher of his) J D Wetherspoon pubs also offer Grill Night, Sunday roast lunches and many beer and wine festivals.   What is a HULAT ?  Well, it's a tawny owl. Next to the pub was the country home of the Saville Family and the Earl of Mexborough. Their coat of arms were 3 hulats, or owls, and the pub was a coaching inn on the turnpike route from Leeds to Harrogate, opened in 1730.  Allerton, place of the alder trees, was mentioned in the Doomesday Book, and a 1st century AD Roman road ran nearby.

       St. Matthews church has a churchyard that had a GRAVE CLUB. In the early 19th Century, grave robbers, body snatchers or resurrectionalists, usually working in threes, would rob new graves and sell the bodies to teaching hospitals, since dissecting corpses was illegal. So the locals formed this club to guard the graves 24 hours a day for five weeks until the bodied of loved ones were too decomposed to be of use. In 1832 the Anatomy Act of Parliament changed the law so that it became legal to sell corpses to hospitals.