British crying in their beer over new pub names
July 1, 1997
Web posted at: 2:56 p.m. EDT (1856 GMT)
LONDON (CNN) -- British legislators, responding to an
outraged public, filed a motion in Parliament Tuesday to stop
a trend toward the bizarre in renaming traditional taverns.
Britain's "public houses" or "pubs" have historically had
solid, almost sober names redolent of the monarchy or the
country's rural past, such the Duke of Clarence, the Prince
of Wales and the Horse and Hounds.
But increasingly owners are rechristening their hostelries
with names such as the Purple Turtle, the Rat and Parrot or
the Philanderer and Firkin. A firkin is a medium-sized beer
keg holding about 40.9 liters (10.8 U.S. gallons).
The issue, which has enraged traditionalists, reached the
British Parliament when seven legislators introduced a motion
to protest the new trend.
One of them, Nicholas Winterton, presented a bill calling
for magistrates to be consulted about name changes.
Neither the motion nor the bill has a realistic chance of
being debated, but Winterton insisted the effort was
'Our national heritage'
"My bill seeks to stress the importance to our national
heritage of ancient public house names and to force a debate
about the way in which they are being wiped out at the stroke
of the marketing man's pen," he said.
The motion "deeply regrets the growing trend toward theme
pubs with contrived names that have no relevance for the
local community and which can cause embarrassment, ridicule
and a sense of alienation for local people."
Winterton, a Conservative, said he was alerted to the problem
when the owners of the Bull's Head in his constituency
proposed to rename it the Pig and Truffle.
The idea provoked outrage in the northern English town of
Macclesfield and the owners eventually backed down.
The Campaign for Real Ale, one of Britain's largest consumer
bodies, agrees with Winterton that the issue is worth
But a spokesman acknowledged that pub names had to change
with the times. "After all, it was probably pretty outlandish
to call your pub 'The Railway' in 1845," he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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