The “world’s smallest pub”, strapped to the back of a bike, is here – ridden by a woman wearing a red cape, yellow trainers and a beret. Because, why not?
Jennifer Left, 36, is the proud landlady of Hand in Hand, an (actual) local pub located just off the seafront in Brighton. And while the full-sized pub’s doors are closed, she’s created an exact replica, to bring beer – and cheer! – to locals.
The largest order she’s delivered included 40 cans, which pushed the bike (and her stamina) to the limit. Her longest was an 11-mile roundtrip, after a woman in Hong Kong emailed to request a delivery for her sister in Portslade Village.
The tiny pub on the back of the bike is instantly recognisable to those who know the original, and was made by two of the pub’s regular staff members, Jess and Joel, who both have experience in sculpting and carpentry.
“They just whipped it up for me!” says Left. “They built the frame for the trailer, clad it and painted it and everything, matching the colours as best we could.”
To add more likeness, Left ordered parts from a doll’s house company, including mini roof tiles and a cat, to sit in the window and mirror her own. “I’m quite a creative person anyway, so it’s been an excellent outlet for that,” she says.
Left refers to herself as “kind of like a beer-o-gram!”.
“I’ve found it interesting that 90% of my bookings have been people gifting the pub to each other,” she says. She’ll fill her “pub” with cans, cycle up the road playing jolly tunes, then knock on the lucky recipient’s door and exclaim “happy birthday!” (or another appropriate message). People are delighted to see her.
It’s not easy work, though. “You’ve got the weight of the build, then you’ve got the weight of the carriage,” she says. ”I can get up some pretty steep hills here in Brighton. I go as far as I can, then sometimes I have to get off and push.
“It’s a very physical thing to do. A few people have said ‘you ought to get yourself an electric bike’ but I think that’s cheating.”
The bike and trailer is the fourth iteration of Left’s idea. She originally looked into buying a milk float – “did you know they cost about six grand?!” – before an ice cream van – “19k, even worse!” – then settled on an old butcher’s bike for £200.
The latter proved too cumbersome for the local hills and is now rusting in her garden. In autumn, she found her current touring bike, which has slightly thicker wheels than your average bicycle. It’s doing the trick so far.
Onlookers enjoy her escapades as much as those receiving a pint. “I had a lady on the seafront last week who clapped and cheered me. She was like: ‘Go on girl, I love what you’re doing!’” Left laughs. “Some people don’t know what it is, so it sparks conversation. It’s nice to go out, even when it’s been grey and a bit gloomy. It’s a bright, colourful thing to do and I love seeing people’s reactions.”
Originally from Newcastle, Left jokes she’s “not very good at sitting still at the best of times” and the project has helped her stay connected to her much-loved pub and community. She’s worked at the Hand in Hand off-and-on since 2008, originally working as bar staff while at uni, before becoming landlady in 2015.
Her little pub on wheels might become a permanent fixture, as Left plans to ask the council for permission to run shuttles from the pub to the seafront once the tourists return – with a map to the nearest recycling bin included, of course.
“As a landlady, my job is to create a welcoming atmosphere for people,” she says. “I’m all about making a space for people that’s happy and inviting.
“With this, people are getting a little splattering of what you’d normally get in the pub. It’s a special place.”
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