I was talking recently about the Salisbury brewing company Gibbs Mew who at one time were situated in Gigant Street. It seems remarkable now but in 1988 Gibbs Mew bought 105 tenanted pubs from the giant Grand Metropolitan organisation in a massive deal worth more than £10 million.

The acquisition more than doubled the company’s estate in what was the biggest single move in their long history. “I am delighted to welcome so many new tenants to our old established family business brewery,” said company chairman Peter Gibb in 1988. He added: “The enlarged estate may see some rationalisation but we will be most careful to preserve tenants’ rights and interests.”

Many of the new pubs were situated in Wiltshire and Somerset and slotted in well with the firm’s existing trading area. Although the deal was in line with Gibbs’ expansion policy, the company had intended to move at a more gradual pace. However, the deal was the latest in a string of developments by Gibbs Mew and in the March of 1988, it completed the purchase from Allied Breweries of a half share in the Bournemouth based wholesalers, Coopers of Wessex.

The previous year had seen Gibbs introduce Bavarian brewed Graf Arco Export Lager to Britain and, at the same time, the German brewers launched Gibbs Mew’s International Beer, brewed under licence in Bavaria. At the time this was seen as a major coup for the British Brewing Industry. In 1986 Gibbs also bought 13 pubs in Weymouth and Portland from Devonish.

Few institutions are as recognisably British as the local pub. And few sectors have suffered more from the lockdown measures imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Let us hope that the situation improves in 2021 – if not I fear that for some, last orders will means just that.