Sunday, 7 August 2011


Another small public house following on from the Rat Race Ale House featured in blog #27. The BHI pub has two small bars with a sweet shop cum counter in between. The pub nestles in a hamlet of only nine stone cottages and a farm. A painting of the near-by Murk Esk by Algnernon Newton RA* (1880 – 1968) has been displayed outside the pub since 1944 – a thank you for his seven-year residency. You can approach the pub – and painting - by foot taking the Rail Trail from Grosmont – the walk follows the route of George Stephenson's original railway line of 1836.

Consumer sovereignty – I’m all for this in the main. Give customers what they want...

Except when what they want makes absolutely no sense and is refused on the grounds of good taste! The landlord at the BHI spoke of a recent encounter with a disgruntled punter who was refused a ginger beer and real ale “shandy”. Now I like ginger beer – and I certainly like real ale – but not in the same glass for heaven’s sake! The landlord argued the point that to have both beverages combined in this manner would give the appearance that he was serving cloudy – and therefore non-potable beer. Fair point! I’m not saying that a mixture of the two drinks isn’t unheard of – I’m just pointing out that it creates a foul looking result and therefore should be discouraged. In the UK, shandygaff is beer mixed with ginger beer or ginger ale. As an example, in H.G. Wells’s novel The History of Mr. Polly, Wells refers to shandygaff as “two bottles of beer mixed with ginger beer in a round-bellied jug.” I think that the result from such a combination would taste disgusting... and would undoubtedly be a waste of good beer. Besides this is the 21st. century - not Dickensian London!

Birch Hall Inn
nr. Whitby
North Yorkshire
YO22 5LE
Tel. 01947 896245

*Algernon Newton’s son was Robert Newton (1905 – 1956) – stage and film actor whose career and life was cut short by alcoholism. He was terrifying as Bill Sikes in David Lean's 1948 film version of Oliver Twist. He also put the ham in ham acting the part of the feverish-eyed Long John Silver and inventing the phrase "Arrr, Jim lad!" in the Walt Disney version of Treasure Island (1950). His Disney portrayal became the standard for screen portrayals of pirates and he is often credited with inventing the stereotypical "pirate voice" by exaggerating the accent of his native Dorset. Tony Hancock, Eric Morecambe and Jim Nicoll (author’s dad) would often mimic Newton’s performance as Long John Silver for comedic effect, which after the umpteenth rendition can become a little tiresome!

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