Historic South Shields pub The Steamboat toasts national award as it braces itself for 'Freedom Day'
The Steamboat in South Shields has praised staff after scooping a national award from Campaign for Real Ale.
It comes after an incredibly challenging year for The Steamboat and the pub trade as a whole which has been hit hard by lockdown closures.
Landlady Kath Brain said the honour was “totally unexpected” but means so much after such a tough time for the industry.
“Years and years of hard work have gone into it and it is lovely to be recognised for that and it is also a testament to the fact that I have great staff,” she said.
"All the customers I have seen have been absolutely buzzing for us.
More than 240 nominations for the award – which celebrates the group’s 50th anniversary – were submitted by CAMRA members and locals before being whittled down to the list of 32 winners.
Winners were chosen for their successes in standing the test of time; for being convivial, characterful and community-focused, and for consistently pouring great pints.
CAMRA’s awards director Gary Timmins said: “This anniversary comes on the heels of an incredibly difficult time for the industry after a year of lockdowns and restrictions.
"I hope the team behind the Steamboat and their locals will take this award as appreciation for all the hard work involved in running the pub, and especially now.”
The honour comes as The Steamboat prepares for ‘Freedom Day’ on Monday, July 19 when all coronavirus restrictions will be lifted.
Owner Kath anticipates a split between customers looking forward to their new freedoms and those who feel more cautious as a result.
"It has been tough, as people are still being very careful and isolating, but I am lucky that a lot of our regulars have come back out to continue to support me – so we are doing pretty well compared to a lot of pubs,” she said.
"I am looking forward to the restrictions being lifted and hopefully more people coming out.
"[But] I think it might go either one of two ways – with South Tyneside having one of the highest case rates people might think; 'I need to be more cautious' because of the restrictions being lifted.
"We have got a great reputation for doing our track and trace and sanitising and we are still going to be very careful with it.”