Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Pub Games and Brewery Advertising

These relatively cheap, mass-produced Dominoes probably date from before the mergers of the 1960's which would eventually create the mighty Bass brewing empire. M&B itself was created from the merger of two Birmingham breweries in 1898, giving Mitchells & Butlers a huge presence throughout the Midlands. A presence which consisted mainly of classic urban locals from the pre-war era, and newer suburban and estate pubs built to serve the rapidly expanding conurbation of the West Midlands. Just the kind of busy community locals where the bar room staples of Darts, Cards, and Dominoes would have been ubiquitous. M&B still exist, though as a non-brewing pubco.
This 'St George Series' Cribbage Board probably dates from the early 1970's. Like the Dominoes shown above, this design was mass-produced for many regional breweries around this time, with only the stamped and painted brewery logo altering. Following the creation of Allied Breweries in the early 1960's, Ansells Brewery, which would have been M&B's main rival in the Birmingham area at that time, eventually ceased brewing. Their highly regarded Bitter and Mild were quite common in my home area of Leicestershire owing to a previous acquisition of the Leicester Brewing & Malting Co, but following their transfer to the Ind Coope plant in Burton, Ansells beers have now all-but disappeared.
Ind Coope Double Diamond was one of a handful of bland, over-processed kegged beers that would inspire the creation of the Campaign for the Revitalisation of Ale (later 'Real Ale') in 1971. As a brand Double Diamond goes back much further than the 60's, but I'm confident that these Darts flights were produced to advertise the 'classic' 60's keg version at a time when Ind Coope had pretentions of developing Double Diamond as a national brand. The Darts shown here are by Unicorn, originally retailed by R J Ward of Great Yarmouth, and quite chunky by today's standards.

Still in the Midlands, Offilers' were Derbys premier brewers until bought up and closed by Charringtons in the 60's. Judging by the attire of the lady perched on a bar stool, these cards date from the 1950's, and were made for the brewery by John Waddington Ltd, the worlds largest manufacturer of playing cards at the time.
The famous strapline 'Guinness is Good For You' was one based entirely on clever marketing rather than any genuine health benefits, yet even today many people believe the drink is especially rich in iron. The days of recommending a bottle of Guinness a day for pregnant women are of course long gone, but the Dublin brewers are one of the few still marketing a branded set of playing cards (below) drawing on the brewers rich archive of advertising images, albeit a non-standard size deck principally for the tourist trade. The Marston's brewery set shown below are also modern.

These Poker Dice could date from before the closure of Flowers Stratford-on-Avon brewery in 1968, though they're just as likely to be advertising the Cheltenham brewed beer prior to that brewery's closure in 1998.

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