Sunday, 12 October 2014
For many, many years, Hinckley pubs were dominated by the Marston's brewery. With little or no real competition, the brewery did little to invest in their estate and the pubs gradually deteriorated both in appearance and management. Thankfully, all this has been changing over the last 2 or 3 years.
It seems that Marston's have had something of a re-think about their long term strategy and a number of pubs have been sold, resulting in better pubs and more competition. The 'Railway Hotel' and the 'Prince of Wales' have been bought by small independent breweries and both are much improved; the 'Greyhound' has also been sold though in a deal which appears to require the continued sale of Marston's beers alongside a changing number of other cask ales. Another pub, 'The Bounty', which closed several years ago has been bought by a local businessman and re-opened meaning that, together with the 'Queen's Head' on Upper Bond Street, we now have 5 genuine free houses in the town and immediate surrounds. There are also a couple of bars, not places I would ever term pubs, but 'The Baron', a Wetherspoon's house, and the 'Gravity' do provide cask ales of variable type and quality.
With all of this upheaval, Marston's presence in the town has now been severely reduced and it seems that they've finally decided to invest in at least 1 of their remaining houses, the 'Union'. Over the last few weeks, a pretty dull, dingy and uninspiring pub has been transformed and now looks bright and breezy. The beer is still Marston's, and only the ordinary bitter is available as most of the clientele are lager drinkers, but it seems that the revamp has improved patronage substantially. Additional cask ales are promised and the pub is to start selling hot food in the near future.
From a town in which it was almost impossible to find any alternative to dull, run-down Marston's pubs, we now enjoy numerous free houses and even renewed interest from Marston's. Long may it continue.