Obituary: Mike Field, publican

Mike Field, who has died at 70, helped lead the resurgence of real ale in Yorkshire and turned the old refreshment rooms at the railway station in his native Dewsbury into a thriving bar and live music venue.

Mike Field

Mike Field, who has died at 70, helped lead the resurgence of real ale in Yorkshire and turned the old refreshment rooms at the railway station in his native Dewsbury into a thriving bar and live music venue.

The founder of the Heavy Woollen branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, he went on to set up his own brewery and turned his single pub into a chain of six.

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Educated at the local Wheelwright Grammar, he studied politics and modern history at Manchester University, and it was there that he developed a taste for real ale. He soon became involved with the real ale campaign, then still in its infancy.

Back in Yorkshire and by now an accountant, he became a regular at the Stalybridge Station buffet bar, and its popularity inspired him to take on the closed-down refreshment rooms on the platform at Dewsbury.

He estimated it would cost £75,000, and set about finding the money from a bank, a brewery and his own pocket in equal measure.

The brewery investment proved to be the hardest nut to crack, but eventually the Lincolnshire brewer George Bateman saw the potential of a real ale venue and agreed a loan.

The West Riding Licensed Refreshment Rooms opened in January 1994 and won numerous CAMRA awards. Its provision of live music also attracted younger drinkers, many of whom were consuming real ale for the first time.

As its popularity grew, Mr Field’s Beerhouses empire expanded to include The Old Turk in Dewsbury, The Sportsman in Huddersfield, the Idle Beerhouse in Bradford, the Cricketers in Horbury and Stalybridge Buffet Bar, the venue that first inspired him.

He also partnered with Paul and Cressida Klos from Holland to set up the Anglo-Dutch Brewery in Savile Town.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Campaign for Real Ale this year, the organisation presented him with Golden Award for services to the cause.

He is survived by his wife, Mary, and stepdaughter Sarah Barnes, who now runs Beerhouses.