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An issue confronting the compilers of pub guides in the early 1980s was how to identify pubs with an “up-market” clientele, and, without seeming too dismissive, send out a signal that the corduroy-clad beer buff might not find himself entirely at home. Back then, this particular strand of customers formed a significant part of the trade of many pubs. Standing at or around the bar clutching a dimpled pint pot was their characteristic pose.

I vividly recall a couple of occasions in the 1980s when I and my drinking companion(s) found ourselves in Cheshire pubs amidst a group of the solid middle classes clad in slacks and golfing jumpers enjoying a pre-prandial snifter and volubly discussing skiing holidays, school fees and the latest German premium car models.

But one thing that has been very noticeable about the way pubs have changed over the past twenty years is how this segment of clientele, while not disappearing entirely, has greatly declined. The middle classes continue to enthusiastically dine in pubs – just try any outlet of the Brunning & Price chain, or read the Good Pub Guide – but it’s less and less common to find them engaged in social drinking in pubs. North Cheshire is famed for its “stockbroker belt” stretching from Prestbury through Alderley Edge and Wilmslow to Hale and Bowdon, but across that swathe of country you would be hard pressed now to find any upmarket drinkers’ pubs. I get the impression that they increasingly socialise in each others’ houses. The picture shows the former Bleeding Wolf in leafy Hale, long since closed and converted to flats.