A granddad who has visited over 50,000 pubs says that drinking beer is the secret to eternal youth. Bruce Masters, 74, also has a Guinness World Record after visiting 51,695 pubs in UK over the last 50 years.
He started going to pubs when he was just 15 and believes he has spent around £120,000 in his five decades of boozing. Though, his daughters want him to take it slow, the man is no mood to do so. He still visits a thousand pubs every year.
Bruce, from Flitwick, Bedfordshire, said: “When I ask people how old they think I am they’re always about 14 years out. It must be the good effect of beer – the preservatives.
“I’m planning to be a centenarian anyway so I can’t imagine how many pubs I’ll have visited by then – I’m hoping to never stop.
“Some people my age aren’t able to get around as much, but I walk quite a lot when I’m out and about so that keeps me active too.
“My daughters do nag me sometimes and say ‘Dad, don’t you think it’s time you slowed down a bit!’
“I say ‘no way!’ I plan to just keep going forever – who knows what number I could get up to.
“The general public are always completely surprised and wish they could come along.”
First stepping into a pub all the way back in 1960, Bruce says it wasn’t until he was working in London in 1971 that he started visiting as many pubs as he could.
“My first pub visit was the week before my 16th birthday,” Bruce said. “One or two of the publicans weren’t too particular [about the law] and they were known to local schoolboys.
“As an underage drinker buying my own pints, I went for the cheapest at one shilling a pint and I thought ‘this is an acquired taste’.
“But when I first tasted beer rather before the age of 16 I liked it. I think my first taste would have been a sip of my dad’s brown ale.
“I originally started counting in 1971 and I remembered the ones I’d done from 1960.
“The idea [of visiting as many pubs as possible] occurred to me when, funnily enough, I was sitting in a pub. I decided that would be my hobby there and then – not many girls are attracted to steam engines, after all.
“I was working for British Rail and after work I’d go and blitz a few areas of London. Being in London, where there are around 6,000 pubs, I decided I wanted to try them all.”
After being made redundant more than 20 years ago, Bruce has been able to dedicate more of his time to visiting pubs – travelling to several different locations per week.
And his efforts have paid off, in 1994 he was given the Guinness World Record after visiting a whopping 27,695 pubs.
Bruce added: “I’ve been on my pub finding mission ever since. I’ve been averaging, apart from when I was blitzing London, around 1,000 a year – so around 20 pubs per week.
“And I usually spend around £40 a week on beer – give or take – and I’ll only have half a pint at each place. I do try to avoid visiting a pub twice, even if I love it.
“It tends to be like trainspotting – once you’ve done one you don’t tend to be back. I want to bump the numbers up all the time.
“And it’s impossible to say what attracts me to pubs. The beer has to be good, of course, but I always pay special attention to the welcome behind the bar. I also place importance on the condition of the toilets – you spend a lot of time in there if you’ve been drinking.
“Pubs have diversified over the past years. You have Premier Inns with bars, American diners, micro pubs. Some of the leisure parks have around 10 bars and it can take all day to get around those.
“No-one knows how many pubs there are in the UK for sure – places are opening and closing every day.”
Bruce, who is kept busy looking after his two grandchildren, says his wife isn’t particularly fussed about his hobby.
“My wife is completely disinterested in my hobby,” Bruce added. “She doesn’t want anything to do with it at all. She comes from Botswana and when I went over there weren’t many pubs over there.
“She just doesn’t like coming on pub crawls with me – she prefers Coronation Street and a glass of wine.
“I have a following of friends who sometimes join me on my trips, but I don’t mind going alone either.
“You meet so many interesting people out and about and the British pub is a great place for overcoming the British reserve.
“The British pub is a very safe place. I’ve only seen one fight and that was in 1973 in Newcastle – that pub’s closed down now.
“I was walking past the door and there were bar stools, ash trays and glasses flying around.
“I thought ‘I mustn’t go in there’. I’ve never seen any trouble since.”