The pub history site now covers all of the UK, well bits of it.
The pub / public house / boozer is where most of us spent our youth, and
more. They are often expensive places to drink, and the local
supermarket has replaced many (if not all) of the Off Licences. There is also a
new breed of larger pub chains, with a range of nice ales at affordable prices (I am quoting
the likes of Wetherspoons); and it is replacing many of the smaller, and older established pubs of the past.
Many of these new pubs are already looking pretty shoddy at times, I have walked
out of a few dirty Wetherspoon pubs where even the menus were dirty. I am not selling either as a preference, this
is a pure article on pub history as I see it from the last ten years of research
into the matter - my thesis, for what it is worth.
Let us start now, and a round up of the current pub trade.
Many smaller pubs are closing, and being replaced by restaurants and pizza houses.
Other pubs are closing and being converted back into housing, generally flats.
The current economic climate is forcing many of the tied public houses to close,
whilst newer pubs are continuing to open ( at a lesser rate). The reference
'tied houses' refers to the fact that a pub has to purchase its beer and spirits
from the chain which runs the establishment. This is a more expensive option
than being able to purchase from the market place, and has forced many pubs to
be uneconomical, thus closure. I am not clear as to how Wetherspoons pubs
operate, but their prices tend to undercut many of the established lager pubs,
as they buy local.
A major trend over the
last twenty years or so, has been the renaming of pubs from a centuries old
name, to a modern trendy name. The pub history site tends to reflect on the
original names. Another trend appears to be the purchase by a brewery of an
'old' building, with little pub interest; and then transforming the same
building into a historical pub. I am never clear about the economics of such a
transformation, but the costs of this can run into a million pounds for just one
pub, and therefore it must make economical sense.
I am now
going to move back to the 1970 - 1990 period. At this time, there were a number of new
pubs replacing the older, and generally larger pub. The pub names were still
relevant, e.g. the White Hart, Kings Head etc. This was a time when the Watneys
and Truman pubs were being sucked into the empire of the Grand Metropolitan
chain. Watneys (Red Barrel, which was appalling beer) and Trumans (slightly
better beer) were purchased by the Grand Metropolitan chain. Apparently, Grand
Metropolitan closed down the good breweries and sold even more appalling beer to
the detriment of the brands.
The wiki states that Grand
metropolitan bought the Truman, Hanbury & Buxton chain in 1972, and next Watney
Manns; plus a host of other drinks related businesses including J & B Whiskey.
The problem was in 1989, Lord Young decided to cut the brewers monopoly, by
reducing their size to 2,000 but in essence to sell off half of all pubs over
the number of 2,000 by the year of 1992. The wiki covers most of this detail, and I will not
repeat it here, but this is a list of about
500 Grand Met pubs
in 1991 just prior to selling off to Charringtons - these are in London and also the
South East (Hertfordshire, Kent & Essex).
You can research
a Pub, or any home, by researching using a surname in the BT telephone
directories. These are available as part of the Ancestry basic search. If you
need more detail, their other packages offer additional searches, e.g. the
electoral rolls. I am not selling their services, but these are available, at a
Stepping back in
time again, we step back about 30 years to the 1940s and the World War, when
great swathes of London and the South East were harangued by the war time
bombing, and masses of London was demolished by the V1 and V2 rockets.
About the same time, streets were being renamed to remove the repetition of road
names. I list each and every pub and beer house in 1944, and this is a very
useful guide in researching back further. This pub history site largely covers
pubs and beer houses
in 1944 and the two hundred years earlier - including their street name changes
along the way.
One point I always make is NOT to exclude the
beer retailers. many of these were, and continued to be off licences. Other beer
retailers are now the well known pubs that we have known forever (apparently).
The youngsters of today have no idea of the rich history which exists in our
earlier pubs and beer houses, as they know little different. Their idea of the
history of a pub is what is was last renamed a few years ago.
It is also important to not to discount
hotels as pubs. Many areas, not quite so much in London, list a
considerable number of Hotels. These are not listed in the
publicans, or beer retailer sections, as they are Hotels. You
often need to search a particular area in this case. As ever, a
good example of this is
Somerset (one of many).
An important point
My next article on research of a pub will start to explain the differences between the different
areas of London and the South East, and why some areas had lots of pubs, and
some had none.
Another great site is the
archives which allows you to search anything, but is particularly well tuned
for early pubs and the fire insurance records.