Wednesday, 16 March 2011

‘Most Successful Consumer Campaign in Europe’

CAMRA celebrates 40th Birthday!

The Campaign for Real Ale today marks 40th birthday at time of strong growth for real ale industry

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, named the “Most successful consumer campaign in Europe” by Lord Young in the mid 1970s, will don a party hat and raise a toast as the organisation celebrates its 40th birthday today, Wednesday March 16th.

While the UK beer and pub industry may have changed much over the last 40 years, CAMRA today lifts its glass with no intention of hanging it up, particularly at a time of marked change in the industry.

While the number of breweries in the UK may have more than quadrupled since CAMRA’s formation (there are now over 770 real ale breweries brewing more than 3,000 different ales- more than at any time since the 1940’s), CAMRA has much work to do in pushing for reform of the beer tie, lobbying to end whirlwind beer tax hikes, pressing to end the irresponsible retailing of alcohol by supermarkets, and ensuring Government policy frameworks are put into place to recognise the vital role pubs play in community life.

CAMRA was formed in 1971, 40 years ago today, by four founding members – Michael Hardman, Graham Lees, Jim Makin and Bill Mellor whilst visiting a pub on holiday in Ireland. The quartet had become deeply disillusioned with the domination of the market by a handful of national brewing companies, determined to push a lower quality of keg beer brands into the market, displacing smaller, local breweries from pubs.

Colin Valentine, CAMRA National Chairman, said:

‘Forty years of campaigning, and the key issues apparent when forming the Campaign in 1971 – striving for quality and choice in the beer market, protecting the voice of the consumer - remain to this day. Whilst there have been wholesale changes in the brewing and pub sectors during this time, pubs still play an invaluable role in the lives of local people, and more consumers than ever have now tried Britain’s National Drink*.’

‘While hitting 40 is an overwhelming experience, we must focus on preventing irreparable social damage caused by pub closures, and continue to grow our membership to increase our influence in the corridors of power. Without the tireless effort of legendary individuals who have devoted much of their lives to helping grow the organisation, CAMRA would not be anywhere near the position it is in today.’

From 4 to 120,000 members in 40 years, CAMRA has achieved many campaigning successes, not just in getting the term ‘Real Ale’ recognised by the Oxford English Dictionary!

-CAMRA campaigned to save historic breweries such as Wolverhampton & Dudley in 2001 and Batemans brewery from 1985-1987.

-CAMRA was at the forefront in achieving licensing hours reform in the late 1980’s, a move giving licensees unrivalled flexibility, and the first such reforms since the First World War.

-CAMRA campaigned tirelessly to break up the Big Six Brewers’ monopoly of the UK beer market, with the Monopolies and Mergers Report of 1989 spelling the end of market domination for the global brewers.

In more recent times, CAMRA played a major part in lobbying for the introduction of Progressive Beer Duty in 2002, excise duty relief which acted as the catalyst for substantial microbrewery growth. Between 2002 and 2010 the number of breweries in the UK more than doubled.

-CAMRA successfully lobbied for the mandatory rate relief for shops and post offices to be extended to pubs.

-In 2007 CAMRA was a lead member of the Local Works Coalition when the Sustainable Communities Act became law.

-In 2009, CAMRA first exercised its status as a super complainant and challenged the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to examine anti-competitive practices in the UK pub market. Although the OFT ruled against the complaint, CAMRA did secure from the Government a commitment to deal with the pub companies if they did not introduce clear codes of practice by June 2011.

As part of today’s celebrations, CAMRA is currently asking its 120,000 members to vote for their top 40 campaigners of all time, and reflect upon which campaigns have had the greatest impact. Meanwhile, CAMRA’s branches across the UK have organised a host of local celebrations. To find out about the festivities in your area, contact the CAMRA press office at