Win a copy of the 2017 Good Beer Guide by voting in our Pubs and Club of the Year competition

Hello Members,

It will soon be time for CAMRA members in Durham Branch to choose which of the pubs and clubs in our branch area should hold the titles Pubs and Club for the Year for 2017. These will then go forward for consideration as CAMRA North East Regional Pubs and Club of the Year. There are five categories – Town Pub of the Year, Country Pub of the Year, Club of the Year, Town Cider Pub of the Year and Country Cider Pub of the Year.

Throughout 2016 the respective holders have been Ye Old Elm Tree, Durham City, The Dun Cow, Seaton, Tanfield Lea Working Men's Club, The John Duck, Durham City and the Black Lion, Wolsingham. Ye Old Elm Tree and Tanfield Lea WMC both went on to take 3rd places in the NE regional judging, whilst the Black Lion won NE Regiona Ciderl Pub of the Year and was then placed 4th in the national final (very well done Sara-Jane!).

You can find a list of recent winners at

We would like all of our branch members to have a say in the awards for 2017 and would like to hear from you now with any nominations as best pubs and club (with real ale) in Durham Branch's area - those with the most nominations will be added to the winners of the our Pubs of the Seasons in 2016 (the Grey Horse, Consett, the Half Moon, Durham City, the Smiths Arms, Castle Dene and the Pollards, Bishop Auckland) to make a short list from which the winners will for 2017 will be selected..

There are no rigid criteria as to which establishments can be nominated other than they must be in our branch area and must serve real ale and, for the cider pubs, they must have a commitment to providing real cider on a regular basis. You may, however, want to consider such thing as community involvement, atmosphere, decor, range and quality of ales, events held, customer service and so on.

So, if you have a favourite real ale pub, club, or cider pub that you think deserves to have the title of Pub/Club of the Year, please let us know by sending your nominations to by the end of December, Don’t forget to let us know the reason(s) for your choice. You can, of course, nominate in all five categories and, for joint memberships, both parties can vote, but separately please.

To make a nomination you must be a CAMRA member from the Durham Branch area, so please include your membership number in the e-mail. This will be used for verification purposes only and your selections will not be disclosed.

To encourage members to submit nominations, a copy of the Good Beer Guide 2017 will be awarded to one lucky member whose name will be drawn immediately after the closing date from among those who have voted.

Dave Thornton

CAMRA Durham Pubs Officer

December 2016

Old publications uploaded

The webmaster has been having a tidy-out at home and found a CD that someone had given him at some point. The CD contains scanned copies of a number of old Durham Drinkers dating back between August 1984 and Christmas 1994. These have now been uploaded to the Durham Drinker section of the website. The issue to look out for are 33, 38, 39, 41, 45, 48, 52, 53, 54, 56, 58, 59, 60, 66, 68 and 69. If you have any other old Durham Drinkers that can help us fill the gaps in the archive, please get in touch.

On the CD were also a number of old posters for Durham Beer Festivals of the same era. These can be downloaded as a single PDF file by clicking here.

Finally, the CD also contained a copy of an "Independent Breweries" leaflet that was published by the North East Region of CAMRA back in 1993. At that time the region (i.e. Tyneside & Northumberland, Durham, Cleveland, Darlington, and Sunderland & South Tyneside Branches) had just 11 independent breweries - a number now surpassed by the Durham Branch alone! Click here to download the leaflet.

ACV Workshop

Feel that your local pub is a vital asset to your local community and afraid of what would happen if it were to close? Then you may be interested in an upcoming CAMRA workshop on how to nominate your local as an "Asset of Community Value" (ACV).

The workshop is to be held on Saturday 23rd July between noon and 3pm at The Bridge Hotel on Castle Square in Newcastle (NE1 1RQ) where topics covered will include nominating your pub as an ‘Asset of Community Value’, navigating the planning system, community-owned pubs, what your council should be doing for you, and engaging with local councillors.

Spaces are limited so please email CAMRA's Campaigns team to reserve a place on

Further information about ACVs within our Branch area and for any local assistance, please contact our Pubs Preservation Officer.

2016 Bishop Auckland Food Festival

The Bishop Auckland Food Festival takes place on April 23rd and 24th, with various events, demonstrations, shows, and stalls featuring “the very best food and drink the North East has to offer”.

One of the more interesting features, from a beer­lovers aspect, is the Tipple Tent. No prizes for what goes on there! Two of our Durham CAMRA area breweries will be there to offer the chance to talk to the brewers themselves, and samples their wares.

Black Paw, based just a couple of minutes stroll from the Bishops’ Castle, where the Tipple Tent will be located, will be represented by owner and brewer Phil Whitfield, while Yard of Ale, from the Surtees Arms at Ferryhill Station, will be represented by head honcho and Bishop boy Alan Hogg. Real ales of a wide range of styles will be available to either try on the spot, or to take away. Go along, talk to them about their beer (they love talking about their beer), ask them where it can be found, and, most importantly, buy some (they love that even more).

From just outside CAMRA Durham’s area, the Steam Machine Brewing Co. will be offering masterclasses in beer science, building a brewery, and brewing beer.

AGM 2016

The Branch gives notice that the 2016 Branch AGM will take place on Tuesday 12th April at The Ship in Middlestone starting at 19:30.

A bus is being provided. If you are interested in using this, please email for information. It would also be appreciated if you could email us if you plan on making your own way there so we know what size buffet is needed.

The main business of the meeting will be to receive reports of the committee (including the financial statement for the 2015 finance year,) to elect the new Branch Committee and to consider an update to the Branch Constitution.

In particular this year we are looking to elect a new Minutes Secretary and we shall also be looking to put forward new Brewery Liaison Officers for Durham Brewery and Hill Island. If you are interested in any of these roles, please reply to this email with any queries you may have.

A copy of the latest draft of the constitution for consideration can be found at

The main changes are:

  • Minor typographic and linguistic updates for clarity throughout
  • An update of the committee positions
  • Clauses to show positions that may not be held in conjunction with others
  • Clarification on voting rights where a committee member holds more than one position
  • Clarification on election procedures
  • Addition of a "Sub-committees" clause
  • References to Special and Extraordinary General Meetings standardised to Extraordinary General Meeting
  • Setting of a quorum for EGMs
  • Updates to Financial procedures to reflect changes made to banking systems

A copy of the old constitution may be found at

If you have any feedback, please send to so we can take your comments on board. We will send out a final version closer to the date of the AGM for information.

We look forward to seeing you on April 12th.


User login

Enter your CAMRA membership number
Enter the password you use on the national website.