I HAVE to say I was quite surprised earlier in the year, when the Samuel Smith’s pub chain became the first in the UK. to ban all mobile devices in their outlets.

The pub chain has more than 300 destinations nationally. The ban follows on from a no-swearing policy that was applied in 2017 by its no-nonsense owner, Humphrey Smith.

I can to some extent, understand a ban on foul language in a pub. However, a ban on all mobile devices in a modern age, appears to be a knee-jerk, unreasonable, and dare I say, bitter reaction from Humphrey. A man, who in my opinion, is out of touch with today’s sociological climate.

The memo that caused quite a rumpus in the pub world said: “The brewery’s policy is not to allow customers to use mobile phones, laptops or similar inside our pubs.

“If a customer receives a call then he or she should go outside to take it in the same way as is required with smoking.”

Now, there are a few Sam Smith pubs in the locality. So, I thought it was timely to visit one, in order to experience the atmosphere and reaction to the contentious ban.

I called in at the Tim Bobbin in Burnley - and yes, the first thing I saw on entering, was Humphrey’s latest directive on an A4 sheet of paper, attached to the inner door, instructing all patron to comply with the ban on mobile devices.

The pub was immaculately presented. It was recently redesigned in a traditional pub manner; boasting a stone flagged bar area, pool room and four other enclosed areas for customers to choose for relaxation.

I was met by a very affable lady Laura who had worked at the pub for two years. I asked her about the effect of the ban since it was implemented.

As she served me a delicious Sam Smith’s Extra Stout on keg (4.5%) at £2.30 a pint. she said: “I haven’t really noticed much of a difference. We still have all our many regulars enjoying a nice pub experience. The customers seem quite happy to make and answer calls outside.”

A few friendly regulars were gathered in the bar area. The social interaction was most entertaining. A plethora of topics being discussed, including: a train journey through India; the demise of local pubs and Coronation Street. I don’t recall Brexit being mentioned once!

There was one instance when a mobile rang. The customer politely excused himself and walked outside to answer the call. What made me titter, was an expletive he used in a jovial manner, on his return! Thankfully, the ban on swearing was not enforced too strictly.

Okay, the phone ban was introduced to protect and encourage social interaction. Admittedly, it appeared to be working very well on a relatively quiet Monday afternoon.

However, my visit to the Tim Bobbin, although enjoyable, will not change my opinion on the pub chain banning all types of mobile devices. Come on Humphrey, refrain from being so pretentious and dictatorial. Mobile devices are an intrinsic part of our modern society. Customers use their phones for many reasons. Many feel more comfortable and safe.

I have much sympathy for the managers and bar staff alike, who have to adhere to the policy. They should not be expected to act as some form of social police, issuing unjust instructions to the regular and other valued customers.

The ban is a bit bonkers in all fairness. Alas, many have echoed my sentiments. What next Humphrey? A blanket ban on flat caps!