Monday, April 11, 2022

Pitchforks at the Ready

Owner of Britain’s remotest mainland pub, The Old Forge at Knoydart, goes to war with his very own locals  (who’ve set up their own rival in protest)

British folk (and apparently even more so Scottish folk) are very territorial when it comes to their local pub. They have a favourite seat and a favourite barman (or barmaid) and they don’t like it when anything about their local changes. Even, as was shown in an episode of The Archers last week when the village pub, The Bull, changed the farm supplying the meat for its burgers, there will certainly be erruptions.

 

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Now, with news that Britain’s remotest pub, The Old Forge at Knoydart in the Highlands, has a ‘rival,’ illustration has been provided as to how a wedge can be driven between a landlord who wants to alter their establishment and the community that has no doubt frequented that venue for decades.

 

Pitchforks at the Ready – Jean-Pierre Robinet vs. Knoydart locals – Owner of Britain’s remotest mainland pub, The Old Forge at Knoydart, goes to war with his very own locals – The Old Forge, Inverie, Knoydart, Mallaig, Scotland, United Kingdom, PH31 4PL
Jean-Pierre Robinet, proprietor of The Old Forge and new local rival, The Table

Today, in The Times, correspondent Mike Wade reported on the “revolt” of the now former locals of The Old Forge – a pub accessible only by a 40 minute boat ride or a 17-mile hike over the moors. After several were banned – supposedly, in one case, for refusing to wash (according to another article in The Press & Journal) – and with 172 “terrible reviews” on TripAdvisor (opposed by 173 “excellent” ones also), the community has decided to set up its own bar under a wooden shelter by the pub. Here, according to Wade, “they bring drinks and snacks from the village shop and shoot the breeze.”

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The Forge’s owner, a former Belgian hotelier who paid £645,000 for the 17th century premises in 2012 named Jean-Pierre Robinet, presents himself as a jovial sort on his website. He certainly makes the place sound whacky yet somewhat jolly and announces:

 

“People are important. Very. Food figures up there and music is our glue. Families reunited, divided in tune, best friends, trade secrets, lovers tiffs, escaping, daliances, affairs of the heart and hearty affairs, yachties, munro baggers, daydreamers lost in a book, lost on the hill, drunk on over or from the bottle. Idle chat, local gossip, furious fiddles, banjos, bongos and bodhrans heckling up each other for a cord change and lifting the pace of a late night strip the willow down the main street. Just another day at The Old Forge, mainland Britain’s remotest pub.”

 

“We have complimentary WiFi for customers up until 6pm, free new moorings for guests dining with us and musical instruments hang on the walls for guests to play – fiddles, guitars, whistles and spoons for the musically challenged! Relax and enjoy great company, stunning lochside views and the freshest of shellfish and seafood landed daily or join in on a ceilidh, you won’t want to leave. Leave your mobile – there’s no signal – but remember to pack your dancing shoes!”

 

Locals, by contrast, paint quite a different picture of “adamant he will not leave” Robinet. They brand him “unpredictable, grumpy and rude” and claim that he is physically aggressive (a charge that he flatly denies). The cite that he has hunting rifle confiscated in 2014 by the local police and state: “It’s a community against one guy. The community would like that guy to go.”

 

Readers of The Times reacted to this morning’s article with mixed sentiments. One, Ken Barrett, commented: “In these days of pub closures, the Knoydart locals are lucky to have a pub at all. Don’t push your luck, lads” whilst another, John W. Bright, added: “The Times published a survey last week showing that Scots are more strongly against immigration than the English. Not sure whether that has bearing here, but remote communities can anyway be a rocky road for a newcomer. Two sides to this one though, I feel!” Finally, one Michael Bone, ‘picked a bone’ with Mr Robinet and asked: “How can he object to competition when he’s closed for 4 months of the year?”

 

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Robinet sounds like a chippy incomer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don’t piss off the locals!!!!!!!!!!! Up there they’re all pissed off their skulls on whisky – no Castlemaine XXXX for them – and they’re renowned for having great left hooks!!!!!!!!!!!! He should bugger off back to Belgium and stop creating Hercule Poirot style dramas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. What a beautiful spot! The landlord should offer an olive branch to the locals and throw a good old lock in! The moaning minnies would soon be friends with him again then. Peace would ensue for the cost of 50 gallons of whisky.

  3. Good luck to M. Robinet – he has the perfect surname for a pub landlord. he looks like he is trying very hard.

  4. I visited The Old Forge a couple years ago on holiday and before I could unpack my belongings the owner of The Gathering was talking badly about the owner of the Old Forge and was trying to talk me and my friend out of visiting it. When were not persuaded and enjoyed our dinner at The Old Forge. Once back at The Gathering where the owner openly shared her opinion of us going there, all of a sudden the hot tub did not work and we weren’t able to grab a snack from the restaurant. Her dissatisfaction of us going to The Pub continued in the morning and I was thankful we only stayed a night. It’s a shame since the pub was welcoming and my friend enjoyed her birthday dinner there I thought we would have a most enjoyable stay at The Gathering… no such luck we were both uncomfortable and thank goodness we left the next morning. I would think the locals would enjoying the extra traffic of visitors and money in their pockets that the pub provides.

  5. Visited the old forge about 2 years ago , JP was incredibly rude , I was only up in Malaig a couple of days, had to wait 2 hours before he’d let us in The man needs a personality implant , BTW I’ve visited Belgium many times and his personality does not represent most Belgians.

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