One of the things I quite like about Wetherspoon is that in the main they name their pubs after some local aspect. In the case of my adoptive town Middleton, the JDW is the Harbord Harbord after the landowner that gave the land to the town where the main street was then built and where the pub now stands. Mind you it is such an ugly name that nobody calls it that. As a matter of fact good old HH later became Lord Suffield and that would probably have tripped off the tongue a lot better, though no doubt it would still be called Wetherspoons.
Now in my actual home town of Dumbarton I learn that the long awaited Wetherspoon (long awaited by me as it will bring real ale back to the town) will be called the Captain James Lang. "Who?" I thought. Despite living there until I was 25, I'd never heard of him and had kind of thought that the pub would likely be called the Peter Denny after the famous shipbuilder of that name. For those that don't know it - and I'm assuming all my readers here - Denny's was synonymous with Dumbarton and its decline as a town can clearly (in my view) be traced back to the fateful day in 1963 when William Denny and Bros closed. This is an event I remember, as my father who died that year, took me to see the final ship (MV Melbrook) being built at Dennys in 1962. I can picture it yet in my mind's eye, much as I can the bright blue and orange plexiglassed Denny Hovercraft, which sat across from the closed Leven Shipyard, in McAllister's Boatyard, long after the yard closed. As kids we used to clamber all over it until being chased away with a swift kick up the arse. I wonder what happened to it? Denny's also built Mersey ferries including the well known Royal Iris. Most famously of all was that it was Denny that completed the Cutty Sark in 1869. I wonder what happened to that?
So who was Captain James Lang? Well it seems he was a well known captain in the town in the early 1800s. According to Wikipedia, "He was born in Dumbarton in 1805, and was educated there. James became a
law clerk in the Town Clerk's office, but he later served on the town's
steamers. In 1830, he became the captain of one of the Dumbarton
Steamboat Company's vessels. He commanded, in succession, the
"Dumbarton", the "Leven", the "Prince Albert", the "Lochlomond", and the
"Queen". Contemporary accounts show that he was irreproachable in character, a man of good morals". Like me really.
I did think of suggesting to JDW that the pub be called the Peter Denny, but I didn't. So it serves me right that they didn't pick it. I suppose Captain James Lang will have to do.
There is also a pub on Dumbarton's High St called the Cutty Sark. It sold cask beer in awful condition around ten years ago. Or more.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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