I've had very little praise in the past for social networking, on a personal level at the very least – deeming it rather pointless, until – that is – this Friday just gone. Sat in my local as it happens my girlfriend so mentioned that she'd noticed a Facebook post, linked on a work colleagues page, announcing a recently-retired four-bank beer engine open for offers from the publican of a nearby pub.
The posted plea for re-homing transpired to beckon from The Crown, Hopton Wafers (between Clee Hill and Cleobury Mortimer) and a mere stone's throw from where I call home. Unsure as to the make, the condition, or whether or not it was still there, the two of us headed out in the van nonetheless for a Saturday lunchtime pint the very next day... and along with my order of Ludlow Gold enquired after the handpulls needing a home. The barmaid looked somewhat puzzled; the first she'd heard of it, but happily whizzed off to the kitchen to locate the landlord, Terry.
Braving the elements I was no sooner heading outdoors to the rear of the pub, with Terry, where there – leant up against the far wall – was a full-length beer engine: a cabinet of handpulls sodden to the core. The plinth was so saturated that its fibres shredded away with the slightest touch; the handpulls sunken into the swollen timber; the distortion of the plinth's cut-aways eliminating any play in the brass limbs. By the time we'd carried it to the van it had literally tumbled into five pieces: two painted MDF side panels, a front support of the same make and colour, a back-frame of England Worthside cylinders, and a top plinth of handpulls – the latter two tied together by only the four connecting steel rods.
Knowing how much rain has been kicking around of late I'm not entirely sure how long this cabinet of beer engines has been left outside... it could have been just weeks; more likely months... whereas it could have easily been years. Nevertheless it was clearly salvageable; needing little more than some replacement wood, a bit of Brasso, and a flush of line cleaner.
As it had collapsed under its own weight, bar its connecting rods, I immediately got stuck into loosening all the nuts, bolts and screws back home – carefully documenting the breakdown into a sturdy cardboard box. Decorated with simple black porcelain sleeves, and a run of swan necks, the workings transpired to be that of Birmingham's Harry Mason Limited – yet in place of the usual manufacture date happened to be the obvious stamp of Marston's... pressed from tip to toe into each of the main brass arcs of the pulling mechanism.
In the very short space of time it's been in my company I've already grown rather fond of maintaining the Martson's tradition of only allowing their own blood to flow through this machine (if they'll be willing to supply me a steady supply of Banks's Bitter and Mild for the 2014 food and drink festival season that is) and add it to the existing four-bank beer engine currently dishing up ale on the Doghouse pop-up pub stand; which has so far proudly served Three Tuns: Cleric's Cure; Woods: Shropshire Lass; Kingstone Brewery: Challenger, Publisher Ales: Legend and Bromfield: and Ludlow Brewing Co's: Gold, Boiling Well, and Stairway.