Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Its been almost a year since the end of the Lewes Arms dispute.

Prompted to provide an update by the discovery that we have become a little piece of history in the form of a Wikipedia entry: The Lewes Arms Controversy - an accurate and well-formed summary of the main highlights. Well put together but we have no idea by whom.

Is the Lewes Arms controversy the biggest pub dispute in British history? Your comments welcome.

The campaign has already been the subject of an academic study at Sussex University. More details re publication when we know them.

As for the life of a pub - well, that's a long story. Following the campaign, it was not just a question of carrying an as before. Many of the regulars had got used to drinking elsewhere and did not return - at least to begin with. The general word on the street was that the old Arms was not what it used to be, that the heart had gone, that there was never anybody you knew in there and so on. The management of the pub for a time was changeable and, for a while, things seemed to be all at sea.

Happily I can now report that the old Arms is back up to strength and gaining ground. This is largely thanks to our new live-in landlord Dave who really loves the place and is doing everything he can to help get it back in shape. Greene King appear to have given him carte blanche to make this happen. For instance, the food has improved immensely and is well-presented; the limited GK menu has been replaced by a much more broad-ranging one.
There are a good range of interesting bitters alongside the Harveys and GK brands. There is also one of the best smoking areas in a Lewes pub, sheltered and with small but effective heaters.

From our side of the bar, there are large number of clubs, societies, groups, teams and others returning to using the upstairs function room. Last week we put on a gig there successfully. The following day there was a meeting with 26 local environmental groups. A poetry slam night is starting on a regular basis. The Lewes Arms Pantomime is back and currently rehearsing their new production. The Folk Club has beeen maintained throughout. Jazz night on Fridays also. The cribbage league and darts teams appear regularly and the after-bowls drinkers have returned for their regular Saturday lunchtime session.

There is now new sets of regulars alongside the Old Guard, loads of the youth who enjoy the ambience, and a steady stream of people come to visit what has now become one of the most famous pubs in England.

The pub is still a 'No Mobile' zone although this requires ongoing vigilance.

Thanks to all for your support and friendship.

PS: We would like to put out an all points alert re two items which have gone missing (see pic). The Queen's head got broken off and has now gone somewhere. It has currently been replaced by a greeen postage stamp. The Titanic picture (bottom right) has been stolen. It was a black and white picture of the ship, set in a sheeet of brown and white flock wallpaper. There was also an old penny in the frame, Britannia side up. No-one I ever spoke to knew where it had come from. (Incidentally the large crest and other photo are from and about HMS Lewes)