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"Ceci n'est pas un pub"

A news report in the North Scotland Press & Journal shows a curious, and slightly worrying, take on the British Waterways/Scottish & Newcastle "Waterside Pub Partnership".

The Caley Inn is a canalside pub, owned by BW, beside the Caledonian Canal in Inverness. According to a local pub review site, it was an unreconstructed local of the sort that was once so common on the canals. urbarred.com's reviewer says: "I ventured in here once and there were two fishermen dressed as if they'd come straight out of The Perfect Storm.... For very old men who drink ales."

It is now up for sale by Scottish & Newcastle, according to a report in the Press & Journal. The best offer over £100,000 secures.

But - and here's the catch - if you buy it, S&N won't let you run it as a pub. As the "Scottish" half of their name might suggest, they already have several (non-canalside) pubs in the area, and they don't want the competition. According to the Press & Journal, they hope someone will take it on as a restaurant instead.

To recap: Scottish & Newcastle enters into joint venture with BW; they close a canalside pub; they then sell the property on, but forbid anyone from reopening it as a pub. One fewer pub on the waterways.

Of course, the Caledonian is a long way from most WW readers and it might all seem rather remote - but what if the same happened at one of the other Waterside Pub Partnership locations, such as the Shroppie Fly in Audlem or the Three Locks at Soulbury?

Some happier pub news: we understand that the former BW office at Lapworth, by the junction of the Stratford and Grand Union canals, is set to be turned into a pub. Lapworth is already supplied with good pubs (the Navigation is a particular favourite of mine!) and it will be interesting to see how plans develop.

Monday 10 March  | Richard Fairhurst  | 9.51am, Monday 10 March 2008

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