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The Miner’s Arms
A Short History
The pub at the heart of the community
How often have you heard that phrase? With the Miner’s Arms it’s as true today as it has been since Eliza Rogers first opened its doors in 1876.
A George’s brewery tied house it transferred via mergers to Bristol United Breweries in 1956 then Courage, Simonds & Barclay after the latter acquired the combine in 1961. The large windows would originally have been leaded with the George’s name emblazoned upon them; these were lost in a typically bland 1960s Courage refit.
This multi-roomed pub stands on the corner of Mina Road and Penfield Road. The pub name alludes to the coal and pennant stone mines in the area of yore. However the road name is not a corruption of Miner but a reference to General Francisco Espozy y Mina (17 June 1781 – 24 December 1836) who served with distinction under Welington.
There were deadly floods in the 1880s; look for the cast iron high water mark on the side of the pub.
Times were hard for St Werburghs in the 70s and 80s. The pub trade was sent into a state of flux by the 1989 Beer Orders; an attempt by the Government to break the monopoly of the (then) Big Six brewers. That there are now a Big Four speaks volumes but it did create opportunities, good and bad!
Courage responded to the stipulation that they should sell thousands of pubs by an infamous ‘pubs for breweries’ swap with rival Grand Metropolitan-Watneys. The latter’s Western division was Ushers of Trowbridge so the pub became branded under their logo. Not much else was spent on the pub!
A management buyout of Ushers eventually led to takeover by venture capitalists and closure of the Ushers brewery (a sad loss to the families employed, perhaps les so to drinkers!)-which was bought by a German ‘entrepreneur’, dismantled and sold to the govt. of North Korea where it is now the largest brewery!!
Dawkins take it on
The pub was sold to a new pubco, Innspired and the tenancy taken on by Glen Dawkins in 2002. “The place was dilapidated (ok, even more so than now!) With lino floor tiles, formica topped tables and fluorescent strip lighting. The beer was keg John Smiths Smooth. Yet the atmosphere was fantastic. I knew this pub had a great future.” recalls Glen. Floors were stripped (as were the tables, the oblong ones are the original minus the formica!), lighting de-stripped and hardboard/woodchip removed to reveal surviving beautiful etched ’bottle and jug’ doors and old pine panelling. “But the first thing was to knock that bloody Smooth beer on the head!”
In went four then six hand pulls-an extraordinary number at the time and quite a risk but it quickly paid off; real ales quickly became half the draught sales.
In 2012 a new lease was signed with the pubco (now Punch) which allowed three free-of-tie pumps. Dawkins Miner’s Gold was developed for the pub; it was such a success that it became a permanent line for the brewery, sold elsewhere as Bristol Gold.