CAMRA was formed in March 1971 by four men from the north-west who were disillusioned by the domination of the UK beer market by a handful of companies pushing products of low flavour and overall quality onto the consumer.
Many brewers during the late 1960s and early 1970s had made the decision to move away from producing traditional, flavoursome beers which continued to ferment in the cask from which they were served, and such a move was opposed by Michael Hardman, Graham Lees, Jim Makin and Bill Mellor, all of whom thought it was about time British beer drinkers were given better variety and choice at the bar.
With this in mind, it was inside the westernmost pub in Europe – along the Kerry coast – where the first foundations of the Campaign were laid. With the quartet appointing themselves as secretary (Lees), treasurer (Makin), events organiser (Mellor) and chairman (Hardman), the Campaign for the Revitalisation of Ale was born on Tuesday March 16th 1971.
While the newly formed Campaign’s name was altered at AGM in 1973 to the now universally recognised ‘Campaign for Real Ale’, CAMRA’s core aims to promote real ale and pubs, as well as acting as the consumer’s champion in relation to the UK and European beer and drinks industry, remain to this day.
Following the formation of the Campaign and the first AGM – at the Rose Inn, Nuneaton in 1972 – where early membership records consisted of the four founders and their friends, interest in CAMRA and its objectives spread rapidly, with 5,000 members signed up by the following year.
In the present day, CAMRA has over 183,000 members across the world, and has been described as the most successful consumer campaign in Europe.
Key Events in CAMRA’s History
|1971||16th March – CAMRA founded in Kruger’s Bar, Dunquin in the Dingle Peninsula.|
|1971||May – First members signed on in the Nags Head Lavister between Chester and Wrexham.|
|1971||June – Temporary HQ established at 207 Keats Court Salford – home of Graham Lees’s mother.|
|1972||March – First AGM held at The Rose Inn, Nuneaton – a subsequent Special General Meeting was held in Nuneaton on 28thOctober 1972 at which a National Executive was elected.|
|1972||June – First issue of CAMRA’s newspaper What’s Brewing published.|
|1972||November – Pilot edition of the Good Beer Guide published.|
|1972||20th November – First CAMRA Branch formed at The Farriers Arms, St Albans|
|1973||17th March – Second AGM held at the London Press Club when the name of the organisation was changed to the Campaign for Real Ale (the acronym CAMRA remained unchanged).|
|1974||The first edition of the Good Beer Guide published. First permanent HQ for CAMRA established in St Albans. CAMRA adopts a new constitution.|
|1975||9th-13th September- First National CAMRA Beer Festival held at Covent Garden, London. CAMRA’s subscription fee increased to £2.00.|
|1976||CAMRA becomes a limited company.|
|1977||The first Great British Beer Festival is held at Alexandra Palace.|
|1980||Great British Beer Festival held in large marquees, because of a fire at Alexandra Palace, the proposed venue for the event. CAMRA’s subscription fee increased to £4.00.|
|1981||Great British Beer Festival held outside London for the first time – at the Queen’s Hall, Leeds.|
|1983||Great British Beer Festival moves to Birmingham and the Bingley Hall.|
|1984||Membership records computerised for the first time. Great British Beer Festival cancelled because of fire at the proposed venue in Birmingham.|
|1985||Great British Beer Festival held at the Metropole in Brighton.|
|1988||All day pub opening achieved in England and Wales. Great British Beer Festival returns to Queens Hall, Leeds.|
|1988||The APPLE Committee is formed.|
|1990||CAMRA subs rise to £10.00 after four year price freeze.|
|1991||CAMRA membership reaches 30,000.|
|1992||26th May – CAMRA becomes one of the three founding members of the European Beer Consumers Union (EBCU). Great British Beer Festival held at London Olympia for the first time. CAMRA’s first overseas beer guide published- The Good Beer Guide to Belgium and Holland.|
|1993||CAMRA subs increased to £12.00.|
|1995||CAMRA HQ moves to its current premises at 230 Hatfield Road, St Albans.|
|1999||Postal voting for the CAMRA National Executive is approved.|
|2002||CAMRA membership tops 64,000.|
|2004||Paula Waters becomes CAMRA’s first female national chairman.|
|2006||Great British Beer Festival moves to Earls Court, London.|
|2007||CAMRA holds the 30th Great British Beer Festival.|
|2009||CAMRA membership reaches 100,000.|
|2011||Membership reaches 130,000 at a time when CAMRA raises a glass to its 40th birthday.|
|2012||Mass lobby of Parliament asks MPs to support the scrapping of Beer Duty Escalator. Over 1000 people attend and speak directly to their MP.|
|2013||The Chancellor announces a 1p cut in duty on a pint of beer, the first cut in duty on beer in 60 years! CAMRA’s 150,000 members celebrate.|
|2014||The Government announces a statutory code of practice for the large Pubco’s.|