PUBS could get a new lease of life from a return to traditional pub games, it is claimed.
But there were mixed reactions to the idea in Huddersfield.
With all the hype surrounding the 2012 Olympics, real ale fans think more leisurely pursuits like shove ha’penny, bar billiards, skittles and darts could encourage more young adults to visit their local.
The call from the Campaign for Real Ale follows a survey by property agent Jones Lang LaSalle suggesting that UK pubs are closing at a rate of 25 a week.
Independent research commissioned by CAMRA showed that the number of 18 to 24-year-olds visiting pubs once a week or more has declined from 36% in 2006 to 25% now.
CAMRA said that many pubs were now dominated by gaming machines, which customers had to pay to use – leaving less cash to spend at the bar.
But 49% of young adults who had heard of a traditional pub game said they would be “very likely” or “quite likely” to visit pubs more often if games like skittles, pool or bar billiards were made available.
CAMRA national chairman Colin Valentine said: “Pubs have had it tough in recent years with high increases in beer tax, below-cost pricing in supermarkets, introduction of the smoking ban and Britain’s economic problems all playing a part in a disturbing 25 pubs closing every week.
“Our new research shows there is a worrying trend in younger adults visiting pubs less often. The pub industry needs to work on a plan to attract these groups back into pubs.”
Mr Valentine said traditional pub games were part of the country’s heritage and could be enjoyed by large numbers of people at no cost – adding that while pubs got a cut from gaming machine revenues, more profits could be made by offering a variety of food and drink.
Bob Luty, landlord of The Will’s O’Nat’s at Meltham, said reviving traditional pub games might work.
“I remember going to the Railway at Marsden about 40 years ago and playing bar skittles and shove ha’penny. It was great.
“We used to get a gang of us and we would play all those games and whoever lost had to buy the beers for the next competition.
“The old traditional games would also encourage people to come and drink traditional beers, of which there are some good ones around.”
Tony Hall, manager at the Royal Oak at Paddock, was sceptical, saying: “We are going to start a dominoes team, but in this day and age some of the old pub games don’t appeal to younger drinkers.
“The price of beer and lack of money is what prevents them going to the pub during the week.”
Last year, it was revealed that a long-established dominoes league in Huddersfield had to fold because of dwindling numbers.
Appeals to pubs and clubs to field teams did not bring enough forward.
CAMRA’s call has been backed by legendary darts player Keith Deller, who said: “I have been a professional darts player for 30 years. When I started playing darts, there was a dartboard in every pub.
“The great thing about pub games is it gives people who are on their own the chance to get out and make new friends.”