The Baum in Rochdale wins Pub of the Year award
PUBLISHED: 16:07 29 May 2013 | UPDATED: 16:07 29 May 2013
A Rochdale pub has been named the best in Britain. Paul Mackenzie went along to find out why. Photography by: John Cocks
A former hardware shop in Rochdale has been named the best pub in Britain and the couple who run The Baum hope their win can give a boost to the whole town.
The pub, which stands next to the Co-operative Museum close to the town centre, has only been a pub for around 30 years after it was converted from Morris’s Hardware Store.
Simon Crompton started work at The Baum, on Toad Lane, in 1993 and became manager the following year. In 2005, Simon and his wife Heidi bought the pub just two days after having their first child.
‘We were in the Good Beer Guide for the first time in 2007 and we are trying to build a reputation,’ said Simon. ‘Pubs are closing at an alarming rate but if people don’t support them the tradition is going to die. Pubs themselves need to make certain they’re doing things right in order to make sure people go through the doors.
‘Everyone who comes here comes here for a reason. We’re not on the way to anywhere, so people have to make an effort to come here. We try to make it worth their while, with good food, good drink and a good atmosphere.’
The Pub of the Year award was made by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, whose members visited hundreds of pubs across the country to create a long list of 16 which was then whittled down to four finalists – one in Kent, one in Devon, another in Wrexham and The Baum.
The pub, which is decorated with scores of pump clips and old-fashioned adverts – “Eat Irlam’s tripe”, “Craven A will not affect your throat” – has eight hand pumps, a reputation for good food and two petanque pistes in the outdoor area at the rear. They host beer festivals and meetings of local groups and hold hog roasts as well as regular events including poetry and arts and crafts evenings.
Peter Alexander, the chairman of Rochdale, Oldham and Bury CAMRA, said: ‘It is a real achievement to win the national award because they were up against some really lovely pubs in beautiful countryside locations. What’s really impressive is that judges come from out of the area and have as good an impression of the places as we have locally.
‘Simon and Heidi have done a tremendous job. There is no higher accolade in pub awards and we in the local CAMRA branch are very proud to have Britain’s best pub in our area. It’s a real boost for the town and hopefully people will see the benefits and potential of being able to say that Rochdale has the best pub in the country.’
And Heidi hopes the whole town will be able to benefit fro The Baum’s victory. ‘This is not just good news for us, it’s a positive thing for Rochdale and it shows what Rochdale can do,’ she said. ‘This recognition is a huge accolade for us and hopefully it will bring people in to Rochdale who will visit the shops and museums here as well. You can forget what’s on your doorstep, but there’s lots to see and do here.’
And she added: ‘The pub has evolved to keep up with the times – we have traditional values and a traditional family ethos, but we are very modern with our communication and use a lot of social media.
‘We are dedicated to the ‘buy local, shop local’ initiative, always willing to support independent businesses. We try to support local companies, so we always have a beer on from the Phoenix Brewery at Heywood and one from Green Mill in Rochdale.
‘We have developed the pub over the years and we have extended the conservatory to increase the space, but we still find we’re turning people away sometimes. It’s a matter of developing it slowly, and steadily building it up.
‘This is a passion for us, doing what we do as well as we can, offering the best service and giving our staff the best possible training. Simon cares about the beers and is involved with the food and training the staff is my focus. We feel a bit like proud parents towards our staff – we were given the plaque, but it was definitely a real team effort.’
To find out more go to thebaum.co.uk and to be kept updated on the daily specials and ever-changing choice of real ales, follow them on Twitter at @thebaumrochdale