Sunday Afternoon Drinking Club @ The Saxon®

Club History

Most things in life are more interesting if they have some ‘history’ and the origins of S.A.D.C.A.T.S. go back quite some way!

In a previous life when I had a management role in Dorchester, a young lady joined my team.  At the time she lived on Portland, but her accent was from much further north!  I like to think I looked after my Team and to boot, always invited all along to the pub on Friday lunchtimes.  The days of the pub lunch.......  We have now known each other for some 20 years, and in comparison our working time together was actually quite short, a matter of weeks in fact, because I buggered off to South Africa for 6 weeks on holiday.  The significance of this chance meeting is that in no time at all she said to me, “You need to meet my husband.  The two of you have so much in common you’re bound to get on!”

The things in common were: Real Ale, Pubs, Pub reviews, Pub photography, Pub signs, History of Pubs/brewing/beer, CAMRA, and of course anything to do with railways. The man in question is none other than Paul Hathaway, the now MD of Islay Ales.  Paul and I had only just met when his wife Liz got a promotional move to Sheffield and Paul went to work for Rolls-Royce marine division in Derby as a contracts manager.

They both went off to live in Cowdale near Buxton, Derbyshire and we kept in close contact.  Visits to stay in The Peak District always involved a trawl of nearby pubs from the CAMRA Good Beer Guide.  In the late 1990’s a new hobby for me was ‘Beer Ticking’ which involved visiting as many pubs and beer festivals as I could, and drinking as many different beers as possible.  Paul assisted me in this task by meticulously planning extensive trips and crawls of Sheffield, Manchester and surrounding areas.

When Paul retired early from Royce’s on ill health he began working on his plan to run a brewery on Islay.  Molly’s Ales, named after his cat, was the fictitious brewery appearing on the plans for a never built model railway.  Paul began building a ‘history’ to go with the brewery and pub (The Quarryman's Cat) for the railway to be.  In the age of the computer & digital camera it was all too easy to add a drinking club/society and report their exploits in a magazine.  And so in 2000 we witnessed the birth ofCowdale Real Ale & Pubs Society’ (CRAPS) the members being Paul & myself.  Our various Crawls etc were recorded in the CRAPS Magazine called ‘Bars n’ Barrels’ which Paul published quarterly.  To protect the innocent Paul & I went under the non-de-plumes ‘IF Hadtewmuch’ & ‘Loan Arranger’ (aka Bob the Bank).

On 21 Dec 2002 we had the CRAPS Xmas Party in tandem with The Ticking fraternity and so Paul planned a trip to The Holy Beer City of Sheffield.  This expedition was reported in a revised edition of Bars n’ Barrels as ‘The joint CRAPS and the Society for the EXploration of Beers, Inns and Taverns - Christmas Trip to Sheffield’.  By now Paul’s move to Islay was imminent and all that remained was for him to make a farewell visit to Dorset (at least for the foreseeable future), and for both of us to have a farewell crawl of the Peaks to say goodbye to the old CRAPS stamping ground.

When Paul came to stay with me in Jan 2003, Mark’s New Year Resolution was to visit 52 new pubs in Dorset during the year and he gave me the job of organizing the itinerary around him working abroad a lot! So, forming a new Society helped us focus our minds on our various Life Quests:-

1) That Mark should visit 52 new pubs in Dorset each year

2) To create interesting Tours for Paul on his visits from Islay

3) To help Bob 'Tick' more new beers

4) Create a Society Name and Logo to be proudly worn on 'Tour' Shirts

5) Bring selective like-minded friends into the fold

Paul & I also wanted the theme to encompass our interest in the old Somerset & Dorset railway and an intention to drink our way along the line when Mark had been to all the pubs in Dorset! To celebrate the idea Paul, Mark & I set off with Rita on the Inaugural Tour on 25 Jan 2003 and so, The Somerset Dorset & Wilts Drinking Society (SD&WDS) was born.  Paul wrote up the new adventure in a revised style of Journal entitled 'CRAPS & SEXBIT - Expedition of Dorset, Somerset & Wilts - Jan 2003' which, as a marque of respect, later became the template for the Tour Journals of The SADCATS! Click HERE to see it.

By the time SD&WDS embarked on its 1st Tour 'proper' in July 2003 we had come up with a simple logo and produced Polo Shirts which we all wore during the week long expedition.  Life long friend, Pad (aka Mike), a fellow Ticker and Camra member was asked to join the Tour as a Founder member.  Likewise, Warren (Mark's son) who needed to further his University studies!

Paul & I also arranged shirts for ‘The Final IF & LOAN NW & N4 Run Ashore’ as the last CRAPS Tour became known.  Followed closely by the now Legendary SD&WDS ‘Home Tour’ of 26 July 2003 which saw us visit 12 pubs up the Piddle Valley in the lunchtime!  Sadly, with the time constraints of busy lives neither Paul nor I managed to record these two important events in Journal style.

Time passed and some objectives fell by the wayside, the shirts wore thin and by Spring 2007 I felt it was time for rejuvenation and a clever new acronym style logo.  I got as far as  DRAM (Dorset Real Ale Men) with its 5 founder members being 'The 5Drams'.  So the exploits of the SD&WDS found their way onto a basic website after I registered the domain name  www.5drams.com    (This site has expired but clicking the link opens a Pdf of the pages). 

And the Prologue to The SADCATS 1st Tour Journal records how it was on Sunday 25 March 2007 while trying to figure out the new acronym for SD&WDS that I came up with SADCATS and the rest as they say is history..............................

Historically another Drinking Society needs to be mentioned here.   One which centres it's attention on one particular annual event. The Maltings Beer Festival, Newton Abbot launched by SIBA in 1993 and which I first attended in 1994 with my old mate Rod Wilmot.  A festival like no other.  A great setting, an ever growing number of West Country beers and a great train ride to get there!  An annual event to be attended come what may!  A concept that's been readily accepted by friends old and new across the years. 

With the indulgence and support of my old friend Neil Beverley, this became a regular fixture for a group of like minded souls who set off on their 1st adventure in 1999.  The group has blossomed from the original 6 Musketeers of 1999 to a gathering of some 26 friends in 2008.  Names for the Group have been bandied around, but like SIBA itself we couldn't find one to fit.  Suffice to say - "We will be there!" and each year we endeavour to expand the group and capture it all on the obligatory Group Photo.  Where would we be without Official Photographer - Terry Knott.  I have published a small A5 book simply called 'The Maltings Years' which covers the basic facts and figures and the all important group photos!  NOW available for viewing here.  The camaraderie of this group is a definitive part of  SADCATS heritage and I would be absolutely delighted if we all met at The Maltings next time!  If your name appears in The Roll Call of 'The Maltings Years' please contact Bob for Honorary Membership of SADCATS ~ via the Guest Book page. 

But the tale of how we got to 'here' wouldn't be complete without mention of a few venerable societies and individuals who in no small way have given me the encouragement and inspiration needed to get this site up and running.  The full credits appear on our 'Lynx' page where you can click on the Logo Hyperlinks to see what Dave Jones & The RATS, Chris & The PRATS, and Ant Veal have been up to.  Thanks Guys! 

Here is a picture I found in a CAMRA 'What's Brewing' some time ago and thought it was worth following up....

Cork Club Outing 1911

 A drinking club of Ye Olde Cider Bar, Newton Abbot known as The Long Bar Cork Club setting off on their annual outing in 1911.
These were the pioneer 'Sadcats' and truly an inspiration to us all.








In the late 1970's and early 80's my local was an Eldridge Pope pub in Poole called, The Shah of Persia.  Part of the Brewery advertising for their Dorset IPA was a picture of 5 old gentlemen (Total ages 434 years) sat on a settle in The Rose & Crown, Bradford Abbas in 1934.  Another gem which probably got me taking group photos in pubs!  Pioneer SADCATS indeed!

Rose & Crown Bradford Abbas