Saturday, 15 June 2013

Guest House at the Ammies

Our local paper, the Southport Visiter, and the town's snappily-named Business Improvement District Development Group holds an awards ceremony called the Ambassador Awards with the aim of "celebrating the best of our town’s hospitality, leisure and retail". Nominations are made for a range of jobs, such as best waiter/waitress, chef, receptionist, shop assistant, and also for best restaurant, chippy, pub, café and so on. As many of the awards go to ordinary members of staff in some of the categories, I have no great objection to them, although the Visiter has largely failed in its attempts to make us call them "the Ammies".

The Guest House in Union Street, Southport
This year, the award for best pub/bar went, for a change, to a proper pub: my local, the Guest House. The newspaper report about the event stated that "Landlords Fred [Hook] and wife Gail have been at the Guest House for 12 years". This will probably be news to Gail's husband - Fred is Gail's business partner - but isn't that about par for the course for a local newspaper?

The runners up were the Sandgrounder (previous post here) on Lord Street, and the Phoenix (previous post here). Both are fine when they're not deafening you with sport, but neither is what you'd call a proper pub. Both have similarities to Wetherspoons, which isn't a criticism, just a description. The Guest House is undeniably a pub; it has three separate rooms and is just over 100 years old. Until the brewery was closed, it was the only pub in Southport belonging to Higsons of Liverpool. When I first went in there in the 1970s, the room on the right as you entered had a sign on the door stating "Gentlemen only", which disappeared on the day the Sex Discrimination Act came into force. That was also the first day that I entered that room, but even now out of habit I still tend to use the room on the left.

So well done the Guest House: yet another award to add to the many that it has won over the years.

For the record, Visiter is the correct spelling for the newspaper.

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