St Albans CAMRA founders celebrate 40th anniversary

FOUR founder members of a St Albans-based campaign group had good reason to raise their glasses last week to toast their success.

Bill Mellor, Michael Hardman, Graham Lees and Jim Makin were the founders of CAMRA – the Campaign for Real Ale – which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this month.

When CAMRA started in 1971 Graham worked in the St Albans office of the Evening Post-Echo newspaper based in Hemel Hempstead.

As membership rose, a small office was rented above a bike shop in Victoria Street but the campaign group soon moved to a three-storey house in Alma Road where Michael, a journalist with the London Evening Standard who had BBC experience, became editor of the annual Good Beer Guide and a monthly members’ newspaper, What’s Brewing.

CAMRA is now based in Hatfield Road and has 120,000 members and in addition to that success, there are some 770 breweries in Britain, four times the number when the campaign started.

The pioneering quartet joined current national chairman Colin Valentine at the Canalhouse pub in Nottingham to celebrate the anniversary.