FRANK (BILL) BAILLIE
Frank Baillie was the author of the seminal work, the ‘Beer Drinker’s Companion’ (published in 1973), and, as well as becoming a CAMAL member soon after its inception, had been a great influence on the fledgling Campaign for the Revitalisation of Ale (later Real Ale). He passed away in the early part of 2014 at the age of 92 in Christchurch, Dorset, and, at his funeral on 17TH February 2014, the address was given jointly by Graham Lees and Michael Hardman, two of CAMRA’s founder members, such was the esteem in which he was regarded.
Alexander Francis Haselar Baillie was born on the 10TH November 1921 at Blackheath, in south London, but his family gave him another name for good measure. They preferred to call him Bill after the musical-hall song ‘Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home?’ rather than after the present-day musical comic of a similar name!! But he usually called himself Frank, presumably because he considered Alexander to be not so Great and Haselar would have wasted too much of his time when people asked him how to spell it – he already had a surname that needed to be spelled out because of its unusual spelling – so ‘Frank’ was how he was always known within beer circles. In fact, it was only in death that he was discovered to be known as ‘Bill’ by the handful of cousins he left behind in the UK and Spain.
His mother was Norwegian and, perhaps, the source of the Haselar name, though some folk said the word arrived with the Norman Conquest and meant someone who lived near or worked in a hazel grove. Appropriately enough, as Frank became a naturalist following graduation with a BSc in Agriculture from Bangor University, in 1949. Work for a Swiss agricultural company enabled him to travel the world and – unbeknownst to many outside his immediate family circle – he had married while in New Zealand but, sadly, his wife Carol died of leukæmia when still young.
Frank was already working on his encyclopædic book documenting all Britain’s breweries and beers even before CAMRA had been formed in 1971. It was the first of its kind, aimed directly at the consumer, and was researched in the face of an industry then hostile to outside interest in its business activities. Nonetheless, he resolutely stuck to his aim of telling the then truth about British beer.
When CAMRA stumbled onto Frank, it was manna from heaven, he being a goldmine of knowledge, information and advice as well as great fun to know. Reprinted again in 1974, also the year that the first ‘Good Beer Guide’ appeared, the ‘Beer Drinker’s Companion’ broke new ground as an original book by a beer drinker aimed at the beer-drinking public. It contained the first publicly available list of all the breweries in the land, many of which were comparatively obscure and could be considered a precursor to CAMRA’s ‘GBG’.
He was quickly persuaded to join CAMRA’s National Executive, where his enthusiasm and sharp sense of humour were much valued, and his contribution to CAMRA’s success in the early days of consumerism was of immense benefit to future generations of beer lovers. But it was not only traditional draught beer or real ale, as we now know it, that became one of Frank’s passions but foreign beers as well. His work allowed him to roam the world sampling indigenous ales in whichever country he found himself.
At one of the early Alexandra Palace Great British Beer festivals, he was heard to remark that ‘I’ve just been to a silly brewery in Belgium’; even the CAMRA organisers took a while to realise that there was actually a brewery called Silly over there!! The late Michael Jackson, known as the ‘Beer Hunter’ and probably the most famous beer writer internationally, acknowledged Frank as ‘the pioneering beer hunter”.
His ‘drinking trousers’ which he invariably wore whenever on an expedition had had more pockets than a billiard table: spaces for guides and maps; money; train tickets and timetables; a note book; passport; and various bits and pieces in case of hunger, thirst, snakes or punctures. They were ex-Army fatigues of a washed-out olive green but, unfortunately, have not been saved for posterity. He was recalled as the only man known to roll up his shirts and stuff them into his socks while on his travels!!
The ‘drinking trousers’ featured during his relentless search in seeking out elusive breweries, essential during his determined attempt to visit all 800 breweries in Bavaria which led to the ‘Great Bavarian Beer and Bike Expedition’, a series of summer tours that drew other enthusiasts from Britain and put the town of Bamberg, and its unique smoked Rauchbier, on the international beer map.
Whilst there, on one tour, whilst lesser mortals fell into a wayside hostelry convinced a particular brewery would never be found, Frank persuaded one of the locals to drive him to the correct address and, as proof of his success, returned with a litre of freshly drawn Forschungsbrauerei beer!!
An imposing man, he was a lovable eccentric and self-effacing, surprised at how important his achievements were regarded. Tall and often dishevelled, he was also a very private individual despite regular appearances at the many ale festivals which the huge influence of his ground-breaking ‘Beer Drinker’s Companion’ promulgated, where he could often be seen getting agitated over news of another brewery takeover or closure before flexing his shoulders and sniffing before declaring, “we’ve got to do something about it, man!”. He left instructions to be laid to rest in a woodland burial ground near Wimborne in Dorset and that a firkin of one of his favourite ales, Hop Back’s GFB (or Golden Best as it’s now called), should be supped at his wake.
Ein prosit, Frank.
compiled from Tributes in What’s Brewing and on the London CAMRA Branches website
Just after the first Ring of the New Year, we heard of the sad death of Ken Brewster, a founder member of CAMAL, and, latterly, our Chairman helping to organise trips abroad to seek out decent foreign beers. He was also a founder member of the Richmond & Hounslow CAMRA branch (then Richmond & Twickenham) in 1974 and its first vice-Chairman. He had, around this time, also become involved in the SPBW, the Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood, being an instigator of its erstwhile Pagoda branch. Often to be found in the Express Hotel at Kew Bridge in those days, he was invited to become a member of the Ring whilst there.
Ken, who was a bachelor, was found at home by a neighbour and concerned landlord of his latterday local in Hampshire on Sunday, 11TH January, when they were asked to investigate when he did not show up at the gathering of Ring 580 on the Saturday – an almost unheard of occurrence.
Within CAMRA, he progressed from vice-Chairman to Branch Chairman after a couple of years and remained in that post until 1978 when he stood down due to work commitments. In his ‘spare’ time, he worked on designing and supervising the installation of data switching systems around the world, largely in airports. Some time afterwards, he moved away to settle in Chineham, near Basingstoke, and very quickly became active in the local branch there, serving as their Treasurer for a long time. Although it is many years since he held office in the North Hampshire branch, and remained very much respected, he did act as Auditor in more recent times.
Ken was born near Pickering in North Yorkshire and went to Sheffield University. With a keen sense of humour and a strong sense of propriety, his life time loves were traditional jazz and proper beer; former members of the committee from his R&H days invariably recalled, almost every time his name was mentioned, his insistence that all branch activities should be carried out with “strict financial contro-o-ol”, the words delivered in his unmistakable soft Yorkshire accent. He never raised his voice – he didn’t need to.
Ken was a regular supporter of many SPBW events and an inveterate Ring attendee, despite having to travel to and from Basingstoke, and, in being a regular contributor in researching and compiling Ring tours, these were always meticulously produced in accordance with established Ring rules even, perhaps, where these proved to be too ambitious for today’s thinning pub stock (see below). He was helping to rewrite these rules when he died.
In the first few years after he moved, small groups of friends would regularly go to stay with him for weekends sampling the pubs and beers available in north Hants and south Berkshire. Renowned locally for these trips to very many pubs, there probably wasn’t a hostelry within 30 miles of Basingstoke or, through the Ring, within Greater London that Ken didn’t know. The fact that he was seriously diabetic did not stop him enjoying half a dozen pints on a Saturday night – often with a couple of generous scotches at home afterwards as a nightcap. All such events were planned with the fastidious care that you would expect from an engineer as good as Ken, including having a good meal beforehand, so it was tragically ironic that it was diabetes that got him in the end, having lapsed into a coma from which he never recovered, shortly after returning home from a trip back to Yorkshire to visit relatives over the New Year.
Forever the beer taster and, like his great friend and fellow CAMAL member Frank Baillie before him, he was always in pursuit of the never-to-be-found but always-hoped-for perfect pint. Searching out new microbreweries, whether at home or abroad, was a large part of his life so it was particularly appropriate that, at the reception in the Chineham Village Hall after his funeral service, beers from the newly-established Andwell brewery at Odiham were laid on for mourners.
Within CAMAL, he masterminded many jaunts to foreign parts, always armed with a long list of pubs that he had researched. On several occasions, his reports (or CAMAL Comments) appeared in the pages of CAMRA’s London Drinker magazine and more recent ones can be found on the Travel Pages of its website. Despite his affability, he kept himself very much to himself and even his meticulous beer scoring he tended to keep private. It was undoubtedly his intimate knowledge of electronics that enabled him to tap these into a handheld ‘blackberry’ with a zeal that put many younger ‘luddites’ to shame!
Somehow the world seems a smaller place without Ken now, knowing that he won’t be popping up at beer festivals, such as Battersea, with a cheery hello and giving encouragement to those working behind the bar. Kenneth was a close friend to many, a person of whom no-one ever had an unkind word to say about. We shall all miss his calm, gentle, personality and his, dry, mischievous, sense of humour.
His funeral in Chineham on 27TH January 2009 inevitably drew a large attendance and how fitting it was that his coffin both entered and left the church to the sound of jazz. What a shame he’s not around to help celebrate the Ring’s 600TH jaunt and its 50TH year celebrations currently underway.
compiled from Tributes in London CAMRA & SPBW newsletters by Sue Hart, Andy Pirson of R&H CAMRA & John Rooth, with contributions from John Buckley of North Hampshire CAMRA & Paul Dabrowski
KENGLO’S RING 573 REFRAIN
Oh! The Grand Old Duke of York,
he led ten men and two women.
He marched them to the top of Richmond Hill,
then he marched them down again.
And, when they were up, they were in a pub.
And, when they were down, they were in a pub.
But, when they were neither up nor down,
they missed two pubs in Richmond Town!
‘arry Hart died in October, aged 63, of cancer. Sue, his wife, and ‘arry had been together since first meeting at Bath University in 1967 and married at Wandsworth Town Hall in 1970, visiting pubs in Brighton on their honeymoon. ‘arry just loved pubs and, with Sue, over the last 40 years, had probably visited more of them in London, across the UK and around the world than anyone else. Everywhere in their house were scraps of paper, maps with pubs marked on, embryonic pub crawls sketched out etc., all to be meticulously documented either on a card index system or, latterly, electronically. The pub crawls he organised for the Ring, visiting around a dozen or more pubs on a Saturday evening, were a particular source of pleasure both for ‘arry and the participants.
‘arry's & Sue’s ringname was the “Mayor & Mayoress”, an appellation suspected as being one that they didn’t wholly approve of but that wasn’t something which deterred the Chairman’s naming policy (and there are many, far less charming, Ring names). The “Mayor” is a title which lends a certain air of gravitas and dignity, qualities which ‘arry had in abundance. In beer circles, his knowledge, taste and judgement were regarded as definitive, and he was christened ‘beer brain’ by Herr Thomas Engelskirchen (a former CAMAL member and Ring attendee). ‘arry took on the mantle of running the Ring for more than 10 years and ensured its survival after its “leading lights” were able to play a less active role and, it was only when he too became ill, that he had to pass on the running of it to others. It is because ‘arry stepped into the breach to maintain the traditions and monthly functioning of the Ring that it is the successful ongoing social event which it remains to this day.
The amount of work required to set Ring walks and to convey the information to the participants is considerable and ‘arry did a sterling job in this respect. All of his Rings were a pleasure to attend and lovingly-crafted, with a notable absence of unsuitable hostelries on the list. Also, ‘arry was adventurous, taking us to interesting parts which may otherwise have gone unexplored.
In an August 1973 competition, ‘arry was the first to identify a spoof entry in the recently-published Evening Standard Guide to London Pubs by Tony White and Martin Green. He and Sue met the authors and other entrants at the Admiral Mann in Holloway (since closed) for a memorable evening on McMullens’ beers. CAMRA was mentioned and they joined in September, going to an all-London event at The Two Brewers in Wandsworth that October, followed by the first West London branch meeting at The Express Hotel, Kew Bridge, and, finally, the first South London meeting at The Two Brewers in November that year. They met Tony subsequently for several pub crawls, notably in the East End, whilst organising their own crawls for CAMRA, the Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood and, for those who know it, the Ring.
September 1974 saw them on several Round England Beer Drinking trips organised by Ken Hargreaves of CAMRA’s Fylde branch and, altogether, they went on over 100 brewery visits – ‘arry kept all the ties! In November 1975, they helped the new South-West London branch organise their first-ever Beer Festival at Wimbledon Baths and ‘arry became a regular behind the bars at the later Battersea Beer Festival. As a major contributor to the activities of the SW London branch of CAMRA, it is certain that his influence had an impact on the high quality of pubs in the Good Beer Guide for that area.
He also became a stalwart of the SPBW, active in several branches, notably Campden Hill, Woolwich and Ponds, and his input and advice on the organisation of events and the running of the branch(es) was always very much sought after. Although probably not noted as a darts player, he was a former winner of the Keith Hudson trophy, and his wide beer knowledge enabled his team to win the Tony Littler trophy, despite carrying forward zero points from the darts portion of the competition! For the younger members, ‘arry was always a font of all knowledge about the history and traditions of the organisation, as those mattered to him, and he was always very keen to uphold their integrity and ensure that things were done properly and for good reason.
Joining at its inception in 1986, ‘arry was the Newsletter Editor for CAMAL for many years and, without his efforts, the annual publication wouldn’t have been nearly so good; his production methods were very meticulous, even including an idiot’s guide to photocopying, ensuring that the photo-copying technician managed to get the pages the right way up! ‘arry & Sue were regulars on the annual CAMAL exploration tours and, in more recent years, he planned the itineraries of such research trips abroad. It was often ‘arry who laid down the entire itinerary for the trips which made, for example, our Boston & New York double event, an especially well-organised & successful jaunt.
There haven’t been many social events over the last 20 years in these many groups that ‘Arry hasn’t been a part of either as an organiser or as an enthusiastic participant and the Ring, the SPBW, CAMAL & CAMRA will all be poorer for his absence, but richer for his contribution. Many will have known ‘arry by sight as a regular ‘face’ at pub and beer events over the years but he was a very private person whom few would have known closely, except when riled, as he could be. When things had been promised, and those promises broken, he could become quite vocal, especially after a few beers. Beer is something which often loosens the tongue, and elicits unnecessary verbal salvos, but, it was a rare occasion indeed when alcohol caused him to lose his dignity, his gravitas, or his innate decorum. However, the spelling lesson in Dudley after he was refused orders after 2am will live in everyone’s memory. Sue had to take him back to their room quickly! On another occasion, he flew into a righteous lather on the Isle of Wight when he couldn’t redeem tokens he’d been promised were redeemable.
However, it is as a person that we shall miss ‘arry; he was a true and loyal friend, a quiet, dignified man, who never caused offence to anyone, and whose friendship, advice and opinions were always highly valued. Many friends gathered to pay their respects at a crowded Lambeth Crematorium in Tooting on 22ND October and many stories were told in The Sultan afterwards. Sharing these precious memories with Sue, it is hoped that there’ll many more ‘good old sessions’ together.
May He Rest in Peace.
compiled from Tributes by Chris Cobbold in London Drinker & John Rooth in CAMAL News
For those not in the know, the Ring (referred to in the obituaries above and, occasionally, elsewhere) is a regular drinking jaunt, usually somewhere in the metropolis, which takes place once a month on a Saturday. Membership is by invitation only and participants invariably acquire an epithet other than their real name.
Similarly, the Keith Hudson and Tony Littler, darts and general knowledge, trophies respectively commemorate former SPBW stalwarts.