East Lancs Branch

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

Witch Ale News

The printed edition of WITCH ALE, the popular branch newsletter, folded at the end of 2017 with Issue 89 being the final magazine.
Through these pages we aim to bring you a roundup of all things happening within the pubs, clubs and breweries of East Lancashire,
as we understand that everyone is not on the various Social Media platforms where news is shared more easily nowadays.

Please email ku.gro.armac.scnaltsae@swenelahctiw or share on social media, any news or information to be added here. Cheers!

JUNE 2022

National News

Heineken (formerly Scottish and Newcastle) have announced that they are to close their Caledonian brewery in Edinburgh. The Caledonian beers (including Deuchars) will be brewed at the Greene King owned Belhaven Brewery. The 2022 GBG says that the cask version of John Smith’s Bitter is also brewed by Caledonian but who cares what happens to that!

Blackburn with Darwen

The former Thwaites pub loved by Rovers fans on their way to Ewood, the White Bull on Livesey Branch Road, is to be converted into housing.


Following the closure of Worsthorne Brewery, the house beer Thick Neck at Molly Rigby’s in Padiham is now rebadged Moorhouse’s Premier. The landlady of the Rifle Volunteers in Burnley has died suddenly and the future of the pub with its Ducketts urinals and the hard to find Draught Bass is uncertain.


Congratulations to Jackie and all the team at the Old England Forever who are the Hyndburn Pub of the Year 2022 Alan Cottam & Chris Dickinson presented the award. The Thwaites owned Griffins Head at Huncoat which has been closed for a few months is set to reopen under the stewardship of local lad Lee Wright. If you visit, please let us know what’s new!


The Crown in Colne is now operating under Bridgehouse Brewery ownership. Unbound Brew Co now producing regular cask beers , the latest ORIGIN is on the bar at Boyce’s Barrel

Ribble Valley

The award winning Swan with Two Necks at Pendleton is celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with the Preston Royal Morris team performing on Wednesday June 1st from 8pm and the following day there will be a pizza van between 4 and 8.30pm with live music from 6pm.


Congratulations to Whitworth Vale & Healey Band Club, the Rossendale Area Club of the Year 2022 Club stewards June and Kelly received the award from Colin Goodwin (Branch Clubs Co-ordinator) John Ingham (Branch Awards Co-ordinator) and Pam Seymour (Rossendale Area Contact)

MAY 2022

Blackburn with Darwen

Norma & Jimmy retiring from the Rock Inn in Tockholes after 13 and a half years at the helm. Not to worry about the pub closing as new people, Vicky and her son are taking over in time for the Jubilee Weekend.

Three B’s brewery are celebrating after Doft Cocker won a Gold Medal at the European Beer Challenge 2022 beating competition from 39 countries including the UK.


Congratulations to the Rolls Royce Leisure in Barnoldswick who were presented the Pendle Area Club of the Year 2022 by Clubs Officer Colin Goodwin (2nd right) with members from the Pendle area in attendance

Ribble Valley

Donelan Trading Ltd, the owners who demolished Punch Bowl Inn in Hurst Green have been ordered to rebuild site.

New seasonal beer alert from Thwaites Brewery - Mellor Mango! A 3.8% ale golden in colour and has a mango aroma and taste. The perfect drink for the warmer weather!

APRIL 2022

Blackburn with Darwen

Due to lots of requests Hopstar have brought back the golden oldie ever popular Dizzy Dannyale, a smooth compelling 3.8% session bitter.

The Squire (previously Molloy’s, O’Neil’s) in King William Street is to be converted to a restaurant called Saffron Street.

The Cheetham Arms in Chapeltown is closed until new landlords are brought in after outgoing landlord Adam Smethurst decided to move on due to challenges from the knock-on effect of the pandemic.

The Cabin End in Knuzden on the Blackburn/Hyndburn border which closed in April 2019 has finally been knocked down and due to become a housing development.

Good news is that work has started on the reopening of the Ribblesdale pub located in the Blakey Moor/Northgate area of Blackburn however no timeframe of when it will open known as yet.

The Foundry Tap and Kitchen on the former Oyster and Otter site in Feniscowles has reopened with 3 Thwaites beers on tap.


John Ingham presented Simon at the Bridge Bier Huis in Burnley the Burnley Pub of the Year 2020/2021 (delayed presentation)


Not one but two award presentations took place at the Bankers Draft in Barrowford

Tracy receiving the overall East Lancs CAMRA Pub of the Year 2022 award from Martyn Pashley & John Ingham

Terry Hartley presented Tracy with the Pendle Pub of the Year 2022 award

Ribble Valley

The Spread Eagle at Mellor has reopened after being closed for 3 months after being bought by Greene King in January.


A petition has been set up to support Brent Taylor from the White Lion in Rawtenstall who is being kicked out by owners Stonegate when the lease is up in September. He’s offered to buy the pub or continue to run it with them but they have said no. It seems they are looking at making it more food friendly pun which is a surprise as there is no car parking on site or nearby. An ACV will be submitted in the next week and the Branch puts on record their support for this. There is support from local councillors and Jake Berry but nothing official yet. It is a very community-based pub with family events and one of the last traditional pubs in the area and very hard on Brent who had run the pub with his late wife Ann who sadly passed away during lockdown and very much made it their home. Please consider adding your signature to the online petition https://www.change.org/p/keep-brent-taylor-as-the-landlord-of-the-white-lion-in-rawtenstall

Michelle at Hop in Rawtenstall receiving the Rossendale Pub of the Year 2022 award from Pam Seymour

MARCH 2022

Blackburn with Darwen

The Greenfield in Darwen has introduced as loyalty card scheme where you purchase 9 drinks (must be same) to receive your 10th free. This offer is available Monday - Thursday. Three B’s are now a permanent fixture on the bar along with 3 other handpumps.

Plans have been submitted to convert the Red Lion at Whitebirk, the oldest pub in Blackburn dating from around 1735, into a British Asian restaurant. The Grade II listed pub closed temporally in September 2021 due to flash floods which then became permanent and was put up for sale as a 'destination pub restaurant' for £450,000.

The White Horse in Edgworth has had a £485,000 overhaul and reopened after being closed nearly 2 years.

Thwaites longest serving brewer, Glyn Bennett, has retired after 42 years.


The Victoria on Colne Road in Burnley has closed its doors. Whilst not a pub serving cask ale, along with the loss of the Talbot, the main road pubs between Nelson and Burnley are now slowly becoming non-existent.


The White Bull at Oswaldtwistle has reopened after closing in August 2021. Sean Forshaw, who successfully ran the kitchen at the Eagle and Child in Ramsbottom has said it will be more a food led pub but will be retaining local ales from Thwaites.


Northern Whisper Colne Tap Room closed with immediate effect. No reasons were given for the closure but it has no impact on the brewery or the other tap rooms in Rawtenstall and Ramsbottom.

Ribble Valley

Could the Samuel Smiths owned Petre Arms in Lango finally be reopening after several years of closure? We’re hearing whispers it’s having a makeover and will be by Easter. We shall wait and see.

Ribble Valley Council have refused plans for caravan park on the site of the illegally demolished Punch Bowl Inn in Hurst Green. The former Grade II listed pub was unlawfully razed to the ground in June last year by landowners Donelan Trading Ltd.


Blackburn with Darwen

After 10 years at the helm the Katie & Phil have announced they are leaving the Sunnyhurst in Darwen at the end of August and are re-locating to Derbyshire.

The future of the White Bull on Livesey Branch Road in Blackburn is uncertain after an application was submitted to Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council to turn it into a three-bedroom family home. The closed at the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020.

Craft Union Pub Company (who are part of the Stonegate Group) have taken over the Brown Cow on Livesey Branch Road, Blackburn and have invested in a £200k makeover. The money wasn’t all well spent though as the new maroon colour signage didn’t go down too well with the local Blue & White Rovers fans as it was more befitting the not so friendly neighbours in Burnley. The signage was quickly replaced albeit in black. No real ale on at opening but there are plans to introduce it in the future.


Worsthorne Brewing Co based in Harle Syke near Burnley has brewed its last pint of ale due to effects of the covid pandemic and other factors. They were a successful microbrewery for almost 20 years after starting brewing in 2011 under the guidance of head brewer and owner, Michael Whittaker, but their journey has sadly come to an end.


The Black Dog in Oswaldtwistle has reopened.

Ribble Valley

Bowland’s Pheasant Plucker won the session bitter category at a blind tasting for the region at the recent Liverpool CAMRA Beer festival. This means the beer will go forward representing the North West region in the finals at GBBF in 2023.


Ribble Valley

The Spread Eagle at Mellor has temporarily closed after being bought by Greene King who will be doing some refurbishment work and reopening in a few months.

Click below for news from other years

Witch Ale News 2021
Witch Ale News 2020
Witch Ale News 2019
Witch Ale News 2018