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Fred Baker presents the Pub of the Season Summer 2017 plaque to the staff at the Boat House, Skipton, July 2017

Fred Baker presents the Pub of the Season Summer 2017 plaque to the staff at the Boat House, Skipton, July 2017

The Narrow Boat, Skipton.

Keighley and Craven CAMRA members have voted the Narrow Boat in Victoria Street, Skipton Pub of the Season for Spring 2010. This is the sixth time that the pub has won the award since opening eleven years ago. It’s difficult to know what to write about it that hasn’t been written already!

The first pub in the Market Town Taverns chain, founded by Knaresborough-based entrepreneur Ian Fozard, the Narrow Boat opened in March 1999 in a former wine bar in Skipton’s award-winning town centre redevelopment area, which was highly praised by Prince Charles at its inauguration in 1988. The exterior of the building has a faintly classical air with its covered colonnade sheltering bench and table sets looking out onto the narrow cobbled alley that is Victoria Street.

In its original form, the pub consisted of a single bar and drinking area on the ground floor with stairs leading up to a mezzanine "minstrels’ gallery" above. Furnishing and décor was, and is, fairly traditional, with wooden pews, stools and tables overlooked by old brewery mirrors and posters, many of which come from Belgium. The upper walls are decorated with two interesting canal-themed murals. (See if you can spot the deliberate mistake!). In the Summer of 2006 the pub was extended into the former wedding-dress shop next door. This created a spacious new ground floor drinking and dining area and a first floor private function room, as well as allowing the installation of a more spacious kitchen and new toilets. Following the Market Town Taverns’ ethos, there is no piped music, no jukebox and there are no gaming machines – only the buzz of conversation, lubricated by good ales and wines and, in a new development for this year, traditional cask cider. A thoroughly civilised atmosphere prevails, even on busy Friday and Saturday evenings, and regulars and visitors alike are assured of a warm welcome from Manager Tim Hughes, Assistant Managers Tanya Stanworth and John "Spike" Garton and all of the staff. Dogs are welcome if accompanied by well-behaved owners and well-behaved children under 14 are admitted only if dining with adults. Eight handpumps grace the bar – the four to the left dispense the regular beers, which are Black Sheep Bitter, Copper Dragon Best Bitter and Golden Pippin and Taylor’s Landlord, while the four to the right serve an incredible range of rotating guest beers, nearly always including a mild, porter or stout. The majority of the guest ales are from North of England independent breweries, although in recent months the net has been cast further afield to drag in some interesting beers from the Midlands and, on occasions, Tim’s native North Wales. At the time of writing the cask cider is also from Wales – Gwynt-y-Draig Draig Ddu (Black Dragon) at a hefty 7.2% ABV! There is also a fine selection of bottled beers from Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic and the USA – not to mention a bottle-conditioned Australian beer, which recently attracted much publicity in the local newspaper! Quality food is served-up between the hours of 12.00 – 14.30 and 17.30 – 21.00 on Mondays to Saturdays and 12.00 – 16.00 on Sundays and the bar is open from 12.00 to 23.00 every day. On Monday evenings at 20.30 the upstairs function room hosts Skipton Folk Club, now trendily-renamed "Skipton Folk Unplugged" for which a small entry charge is levied and on Wednesday evenings at 21.00 the ever-popular pub quiz takes place, for which there is also a small charge, which includes a chip butty at half-time and gives the chance to win eight free pints of beer as well as a roll-over cash prize. There can’t be many serious ale drinkers in the Keighley and Craven area who have not yet sampled the delights of the Narrow Boat, but if you are one of them, or you live further afield, give it a try – you will find an excellent, civilised drinking environment staffed by friendly, welcoming people who are passionate about keeping and serving a wide range of good quality traditional ales. Most of the regulars are OK too, but be warned – if you get chatting to them about beer, you may end up staying for longer than you had planned! If you don’t know Skipton, the pub can be a little hard to find: Victoria Street is a narrow cobbled alley leading down from the High Street to Coach Street, close to the canal basin and just over the bridge from the Tourist Information Centre.

The award will be presented on Thursday 11th March 2010 at about 8.30 p.m.

"The Wobbly Talker"

Note: Previous awards were: Winter 2008/9, Spring 2003, Autumn 2001, Autumn 2000, Autumn 1999.

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