According to a recent census there are almost 10,000 people living in the parish of Bradford on Avon (north and south wards). More than 80% are 18-years-old or older which means there are roughly 8,000 adults living in an area of slightly more than five-square-miles. It doesn’t say how many dogs are resident here; probably two or three times that number.
In addition, our town accommodates the weekend and day visitors who come to look at attractions such as the Church of St Laurence (I still marvel at the fragment of fossil tree in the chancel), or to have their photograph taken outside the Bridge Tea Rooms (I don’t know if the census included the ghost), or to push me into the road while they take a selfie on the town bridge.
And on top of that, there are the towpath and riverbank ramblers who pass through every day, and those speedy cyclists who like to ting their bells without an accompanying please or thank you and then spray me with mud (yes, I am a cyclist myself but I am polite and considerate and they are clots).
This adds up to a lot of adults. I mention it because the other day I overheard a person saying that if ever there was a place to run a pub, it is here. Their logic was that in such a compact town where most people walk when they go out, drinks-per-punter must be higher than in communities where people tend to drive more. In short, Bradford on Avon is a Goldilocks town for publicans.
I am not suggesting the average BoA citizen passes out every night in a messy alcoholic heap but I do think that person was on to something. One of the attractions of living in Bradford on Avon is the close proximity of everything to everything else. It is all on our doorstep. There is no need to take the car when we go out – which, when you consider the average Briton spends more than two days a year waiting for traffic lights to turn green, is a good thing.
Clearly, others have seen this opportunity. If we include The Swan, Timbrell’s Yard and The Lock Inn Café, there are, I think, sixteen pubs in Bradford on Avon (I apologise to all local pubologists if I have missed any). Sally and I have been to most of them and I feel quietly confident that we have done our bit to support the town’s drinks-per-punter quotient.
Perhaps a benefit of this strong pub presence is that it encourages both competition and an element of specialism which gives us, the enthusiastic customer, a diverse range of venues from which to choose – from traditional to modern; from picturesque to characterful.
At least three pubs host first-class live music (check out The Three Horseshoes on a Sunday afternoon) and nearly all are child friendly (10% of people are under nine-years-old in BoA). Most serve great food, have guest beers and welcome dogs with open paws. Some run pub quizzes and three have nailed the ancient art of punning (the sign for The Stumble Inn always makes me happy).
It is interesting how simple numbers and percentages can reflect social opportunities. For example, according to the Office of National Statistics 0.2% of the working population make a living as ‘authors, writers or translators’. That means, theoretically, I have nine comrade-in-pens living in Bradford on Avon. We should get together and go out. I know a good pub – come to think of it, I know sixteen good pubs.