Enfield and Barnet

Campaign for Real Ale


The formation of CAMRA

CAMRA was formed in 1971, initially to ensure that beer drinkers had the opportunity to drink Real Ale in their pubs, which at that time was beginning to disappear. Nowadays, CAMRA has widened its scope to include the issue of misleading dispense, pub preservation, cider and perry, brewery closures, full pint legislation, the smoking debate and much more. Locally we have around 750 members in the Enfield & Barnet branch, while nationally the Campaign has over 124,000 members (June 2011). If you would like to join us, either go to CAMRA Home, talk to one of the local committee members (Contacts), or come to one of our socials or meetings - listed in Diary.

A Short History of Enfield & Barnet CAMRA Branch

-as recounted by founder member and past chairman of the branch, DEREK SMITH.

The Enfield & Barnet Branch was carved out from the North London Branch of CAMRA in December 1974. Enfield & Barnet was set up to cover the two London Boroughs of the same name. This was part of the general development of CAMRA Branches in London. The London Branch had earlier split into North, South and West London. More branches were formed until the current London structure evolved.

The first Enfield & Barnet meeting was held at the King George (now called 'Hadley Oak') in Barnet and the normally curtained off section of the bar was packed with forty plus members. In the first month of its existence the Branch lost two of the fifteen Real Ale pubs within its boundaries as the big brewers ripped out handpumps and installed keg or top pressure beer. The Branch used to encourage interested landlords to install Real Ale by lending out 'the Branch handpump'. We advised one young entrepreneur on his plans to open a free house in a converted shop in Muswell Hill. Subsequently, he sold out to Tim Martin (of Wetherspoons). Since then, the pub scene has swung to and fro. Real Ale has been installed and ripped out as the brewers and now the pubcos chase the latest craze. Fortunately a lot more of our pubs now sell Real Ale, but the Branch still has plenty to campaign about.

The Branch has tried to increase the availability and popularity of Real Ale. We have been involved in a number of beer tents on Enfield Playing Fields, Alexandra Park and Cherry Tree Woods in East Finchley. As well as distributing the London Drinker magazine we have held leaflet campaigns against brewery closures and even given samples of cask beer away. The Branch went to court in the early 80s in an attempt to extend the weekday pub closing times from 10.30pm until 11.00pm in the Barnet licensing division. This attracted a lot of publicity but the magistrates refused the application on that occasion. Two years later it was granted. Subsequent Westminster legislation has made daytime drinking hours a lot more civilised.

The current proposals to legalise short measure is a national scandal and we have lobbied local MPs against this swindle.

We have formal branch meetings and a regular social programme that includes pub, club, beer festival and brewery visits, rambles and an annual Christmas dinner. We've also taken part in quizzes and darts competitions. The first trip the Branch held was by coach to Ware in Hertfordshire and an overseas trip to Belgium is enjoyed annually in March.

We are a friendly group which encourages and welcomes all CAMRA members to come along and join in our activities, which can be found regularly updated in the Diary section of this website, 'What's Brewing' What's Brewingand London Drinker magazine London Drinker Magazine .