November 8th, 2012
Britain’s best looking pubs have been unveiled this week, as CAMRA picks its champions for the annual National Pub Design Awards.
A judging team of architects, historians and pub campaigners have scoured the UK for the hostelries with the best “vision, imagination and a level of restraint in their design”, and have returned with four “gems” to take the honours.
The winners, announced on Wednesday (November 7), are the Drop Forge in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, for Best Conversion to Pub Use; The Magpie in Carlisle and Newark’s Prince Rupert as joint winners of the English Heritage Conservation Award; and Joule’s Brewery Tap in Market Drayton for best Refurbishment.
This year’s contest, which CAMRA organised with English Heritage and The Victorian Society, covers works completed during 2010 – and comes at a time when the rate of pub closures in the UK has shot back up to 18 per week.
In the Conversion to Pub Use category, where an existing building is converted into a pub, judges thought the Drop Forge’s transformation from an industrial workshop, into an”honest” new bar was “fantastic”.
The Magpie owners, Barnsley’s Oakwell Brewery, shared their Conservation prize, awarded “where work undertaken conserves what is good in a pub to ensure its future for generations of customers”, for a “highly impressive restoration” of a 1933 Carlisle State Management Scheme pub.
The Conservation co-champions, Newark’s Prince Rupert pub, dates back to 1450 and had been “sympathetically restored using appropriate methods and materials”. Judges said it was “a splendid example to other pub-owners contemplating the revival of a much-abused historic building”
In the Refurbishment category, where successful work can range from a complete gutting and replacement to an enhancement of what was originally there, judges were impressed by the make-over performed on Grade-II listed Joule’s Brewery Tap, in Market Drayton.
Judges felt it created a “decidedly retro heritage idiom with a new oak-beamed roof and much exposed timer, tilework and brickwork”.
However, at the discretion of the judges, no winners were announced for two further categories, the New Build and the Joe Goodwin Award for Best Street Corner Local.
Their decision was, they said: “a worrying reflection of the narrow, short-termism so often adopted at a time of recession”.
Competition judge and architectural historian, Dr Steven Parissien, said: “For over twenty years the Pub Design Awards have been celebrating the Best of British.
“Amidst the gloom and doom, this past year has, reassuringly, seen a number of first-rate pub schemes, all of which illustrate how pubs can, and should, be treated.
” Interestingly, the majority of our award winners involve new work done to historic, listed buildings – which, for many both at home and abroad, define what a pub should be.”
Pub Design Awards