Setting up the “Wet” at Shay Gap

After getting the keys and taking over I paid a call to the town manager and told him I needed a refrigeration engineer/mechanic  as soon as possible. He didn’t ask why or what for just said okay. I think he thought I was a bit odd, I’d only been there a day or so and here I was running around as if I owned the place.

I’d virtually told my predecessor to go but my old chum and mentor ‘Goochie’ always told me; “when you’re running a bar or hotel always let everyone know from the word go who’s running the place and don’t take any nonsense or garbage from anybody, and that way you’ll never have any problems with staff or customers”.  And he was right.

The bar I took over was a bit of a mess, everything I had all the equipment, plant and accessories was top class but Paddy of now distant  memory had  not really cared.

The first thing I had to do was clean the beer lines, I’d no idea when they’d last been cleaned or if they had been; at the end of each night Paddy had just run the beer out and then run some water through and blown them. Not a good way to deliver a good brew to a thirsty mob. No wonder he was doing 4 kegs a week.

There was a fair bit of work for me to do that afternoon in the four hours I had before opening time for my first solo appearance with what I imagined to be a horde of thirsty hard yakka miners.

Strictly speaking the “Wet” was nothing really but a very large drinking hall, the bar right along the top wall, two pool tables a few tables and chairs and that was about it, nothing really to make the men feel welcome, and to top it off the beer hadn’t been the best; I’d noted that during the 2 sessions I had with Paddy.

Well one thing for sure, there wasn’t much I could do with the surroundings but I sure knew how to deliver a beer; and that’s one of the reasons I needed the refrigeration mechanic.

He came pretty soon after I’d asked for him and I told him what I needed and wanted done. First thing I asked him to do was rearrange the “Temprite’s”, these were the cooling machines, the beer ran from the bank to the “Temprite” through around 30/40 foot of fine piping inside, was chilled and out through the taps into the glass.

Now for some reason, probably because they were there and he thought they had to be used, Paddy had all six taps hooked up. I couldn’t see any need for this, if he’d been going through 40 or 50 kegs a week yes, but 4? He had to be kidding. I wanted just two.

I got the mechanic to run a line across the top and the beer actually went through the “Temprite” twice, it didn’t make it any colder but helped if you had a long pull.  He thought I was a bit nutty but did as I asked and then my next request convinced him I was completely off my rocker.

I told him I wanted him to set the temperature to 30° (we were still using Fahrenheit then).  he told me he couldn’t do that as it would freeze up and blow up the “Temprite’s”, I told him no it wouldn’t; beer freezes at 28° and I would not be running them with water, and that they were shut down during my line cleaning operations.

Anyway he did as I asked, and I told him my reasons for wanting it that low; I think he was entitled to know them.

The previous set up was the same as used in Perth some 1800/2000kms to the south in a temperate zone and down there the beer was usually poured at around 34° at the tap and by the time the full glass hit the counter it had risen to around 36/37°.

Now I reckoned that this was fine down there, but that up here, what was needed was a nice cold beer, and coming out of the tap at around 30° getting to the drinker for his first sip/gulp, he was going to get that nice cold beer, somewhere around 32/33°; it mightn’t seem much but believe me there’s a big difference. My customers to be were in for a treat.

Once set up the mechanic and I tried a couple just to be sure. Perfect!

Having got the beer flowing properly I then set about giving the pool tables a bit of going over, gave the cloth a brush and set the tables up for the first arrivals. The men had to pay for their games, (the same the world over in a bar) and I’d decided to set the tables for a couple of free games.


I had the key to the tables, so that I could open them up, and get to them, if there was a blockage, and even though it was only 20c a game, everyone likes to get something for free now and then and it worked.


There was something else I hadn’t reckoned on, that was about to happen half an hour or so before opening time, but I’ll save that for the next time; you’ve got enough drivel here, to keep you going for a while, and this is getting a bit long winded.


8 thoughts on “Setting up the “Wet” at Shay Gap

  1. Brian,
    I’m enjoying your tales of your time at Shay Gap, real frontier stuff. Where is Shay Gap? This map isn’t very helpful


    1. Shay gap no longer exists Neill, it was mined out some time ago. It was about 70/80 kms north of Marble Bar, I’ve sent you a link and pic from Google Earth to give you a better idea. Glad you’re enjoying the tales, our old friend Ken suggested a long time ago that I write a book entitled “The Bloke That Ran the Boozer at Shay Gap”. You may have noticed on an earlier blog that I’d upset some bloke who had worked up there in the early 70’s. I didn’t know this bloke.
      Stay tuned there’s more to come 🙂


  2. Reblogged this on LordBeariOfBow and commented:

    And with that out of the way on with the next thrilling instalment that actually drew a comment from my chum Neill!


  3. Interesting to read about how you set it all up…sounds like you knew what you were doing! I can hardly wait for the ‘next exciting installment!


    1. Ah! You’ve missed the first 2 or 3 episodes of this saga Diane 😛 I’ll probably make every one sick of Shay Gap by the time I’m finished.,


  4. Very much enjoying Shay Gap! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did too, sadly Shay is now just a dying memory, I sometimes get nan email from someone who spent their childhood their; believe it or not.
      I’m one of those who sticks their email address right on top where it can be seen, I’ve been lucky really never get any bad mail.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve been lucky that way too. I think most bloggers are respectful.

        Liked by 1 person

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