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17-06-2010, 19:33
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Many years ago, the vast majority of pubs had a separate public bar (round here generally called a vault) and lounge, reflecting distinctively different groups of customers who used them. But, over the years, this division has steadily been swept away, reflecting a supposedly more democratic and egalitarian society, and a desire to use the space in pubs more flexibly. Nowadays, it’s relatively rare to find a pub that does have a completely separate vault, although some do have a plainer section at one end of their drinking space.

But that doesn’t mean that the customers have become homogenous too, and sometimes you end up with the former vault customers in effect colonising the lounge. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of boisterous behaviour and robust banter, and indeed in the past that “vault trade” was the heart of many pubs. But if that’s what you encounter when walking in through the front door in search of a quiet pint or a bite to eat, you may well think you’ve wandered into the wrong place.

In fact, there’s at least one pub I can think of that still has a perfectly serviceable separate vault, but where all the vault-type customers congregate on the lounge side, leaving the vault empty.

Setting aside separate sections of a pub for different groups of clientele is something that very often has a practical justification of keeping everyone happy and is nothing to do with antiquated class divisions. Many pubs, for example, would benefit from having a separation between areas where children were permitted, and areas that were adults-only. And, at present, more customers than you might think would appreciate a footie-free zone (as my local has).

Incidentally, are there any pubs around where beer prices are still lower in the public bar than in the lounge?


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