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The Barley Mow, St. Albans

Barley Mow Lane
St. Albans
AL4 0RS

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Steve of N21 left this review about The Barley Mow

The Barley Mow, Tyttenhanger is now a private house with builders yard behind and has been since the pub shut in 1984.
So why bother writing something about a pub that has been shut for almost 30 years ?. Because it is a piece of CAMRA history and as a former student of Hatfield Poly between 1977 and 1981, it is where I spent a significant part of my student grant cheque during these years.
Originally it was Barley Mow farm and when the building was converted to a pub the name went with it.
The glory days for the Barley Mow were in the late 1970’s when the pub was a mecca for real
ale and was visited by drinkers from across the country and also from around the world such was its fame.
This former McMullen’s pub was once on the main road between Hatfield and St Albans until the building of the dual lane highway between the two. McMullens sold the then poorly trading Barley Mow in 1976 with the intention of building a big road house place on the dual carriageway, but this never happened.
The new owner, a Tom Simpson bought the pub and turned it into a Free house. The first Chair of the then Hertfordshire CAMRA branch, heard about the sale and the free house status and suggested to the new owner to stock real ale and the Barley Mow became the first pub in Hertfordshire to stock beers from Fuller’s with London Pride and ESB available on handpump. This filled the pub with punters overnight and sales rocketed. Other real ales were introduced and the pub increased in popularity, to the extent that the current owners did not want the responsibility of such a successful pub and subsequently sold it to new owners in the shape of a John Blackwell. Despite no previous experience of running a pub, he continued the real ale theme and increased the beer range to 18 ales on six banks of handpumps with one occasional beer on stillage and two regular natural ciders. Don’t forget this is 1977 we are talking about here, and at the time the Barley Mow provided the best range of real ales on a regular basis of any pub in the country.
There was also an 'in pub' challenge that if anyone could drink a pint of each of the 18 beers available in one session the landlord would pay. This was never achieved I believe.
The landlord was a great supporter of CAMRA and was licensee for the CAMRA Beer Festivals that were run in the Hatfield Polytechnic during the late 1970s. It was during one of these that I was signed up to CAMRA at the tender age of 19 and have been in ever since.
Unfortunately a couple of years later the landlords health deteriorated, and he put the Barley Mow on
the market at a value over twice what he had originally purchased it for. The only buyer to come up with the asking price was Watney’s who promptly put their Fined Bitter on all 18 of the pumps. Needless to say trade nosedived and after six months the pub closed.
Most of this I can drag from memory, but am also indebted to the excellent article in the local Hertfordshire CAMRA Spring 2012 publication for the salient dates and facts, also from which I understand that it has now been proposed that the pub building is knocked down and the 3 hectares of land around it becomes a housing estate of 62 properties. So it looks like the Barley Mow will disappear forever, except in the memory of those who experienced our first pints of real ale within its doors.

On 12th April 2012 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 1686 recommendations about 1635 pubs]