WILLO TALK: The Bank Holiday booze boost at Hartlepool Marina

Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend (SUNDAY) and the weather is beautiful. Sun seekers enjoy a drink at Hartlepool Marina.
Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend (SUNDAY) and the weather is beautiful. Sun seekers enjoy a drink at Hartlepool Marina.

AS I sit writing this column on Bank Holiday Monday morning, I’m guessing there are a fair few people still knocking the zzzzz’s out after a long day in the sunshine yesterday.

I’d also imagine the pub bosses are sitting in their counting houses adding up how much they raked in over the course of the day, with the good weather helping to attract people out into the various watering holes in and around the town.

Hartlepool has its fair share of critics, but the Marina area yesterday afternoon was real picture postcard stuff as throngs of people donned the shorts and shades to enjoy a pint or three.

The place was bouncing, as were the pubs and clubs in town later on in the evening.

That certainly made a refreshing change, as it’s fair to say the licence trade has been struggling in recent years.

I remember years ago Thursday nights down the town were busy, Church Street on a Friday was like Wembley Way and there was always a good crowd out on Saturdays too.

But a combination of factors including the smoking ban and rising prices of alcohol in pubs - and falling booze prices in supermarkets - has hit that hard, and the change in licensing hours means we’re all becoming night owls when it comes to socialising in Hartlepool.

A taxi driver pal told me the other day it wasn’t worth his while starting a shift until about 11pm on a weekend, as that was now peak time for people wanting a cab into town.

I remember some Saturday nights out when I used to get home to catch Match of the Day.

Nowadays, it’s more common to go out when it’s finished knowing there isn’t a race against the clock to get as many pints down your neck before the pubs shut.

The cheap booze offers in supermarkets mean people stock up their fridges before heading out on the town, a far cry from the days when it was battle to get ready and out for 7pm in order to get a four-hour session in before the last orders bell rang.

I have sympathy for the police, pub staff and taxi drivers who are still working away while the sun comes up, and understand why the bar bosses get annoyed when the supermarkets offer as much booze as you can fit in your trolley for twenty quid.

But wouldn’t it be nice if there was some sort of revival of the Hartlepool nightlife to give us more scenes like those we had down at the marina on Sunday?