Last month the Pub History Society hosted their first conference at the National Archives in Kew. The conference was titled (as you might expect) The History of Pubs and followed a common format of five short illustrated talks followed by questions. The day began at 10.30 and closed at about 3.30pm. There was no charge.
The talks included :
The Lost Pubs of London where Jack Adams illustrated with an engaging style that pubs WILL always change over time and he described his research through anecdotes taken from his collection of books about pubs published over the last 250 years.
Then followed The Pub and the People where Simon Fowler, treasurer of Pub History Society and editor of Ancestors magazine, gave a talk about pubs during the inter-war years from working class boozers to grand hotel bars.
Before the break for lunch Patrick Chaplin, aka Dr Darts, delivered a presentation on Women, Darts and the Pub explaining in some detail how women did participate in darts from a very early period even though the public bar was very much a male dominated part of the pub and that many believed that women were "temperamentally unsuited to the game".
After the break for lunch, during which we were treated to a tour of the National Archives, we were entertained by David Roe who is the editor of the journal of the Inn Sign Society and has a collection of over 8,000 photographs of pub signs. He seems to spend much of his spare time giving this slide show of Pub Signs and Names to various groups. This is the second time I have seen his talk and he is most entertaining and knowledgeable.
Finally, we heard a talk on a Short History of Coaching Inns given by David Thomas. Again we were back to the fact that pubs will always change in character over time. The golden age of coaching being c1750-1850 being quickly overtaken by the age of the train and dormant by about 1825 - 1840 with many coaching inns making way for the "Railway Hotel" with a trip by rail costing about one tenth of the same trip by coach.
The day was presented and compered by Steve Williams (no relation) of the Pub History Society and I hope he was delighted with the way the day went.
It was an excellent day enjoyed by about 60-70 visitors. There was capacity for a few more so I recommend this if they do it again next year. I only learned of the event through my local paper so hopefully I will be able to help publicise the event for next year well in advance.
The best thing about the day was the cost - nothing, free, gratis, no charge - some history societies would see this sort of event as profit making and charge upwards of £20, all credit to the Pub History Society to treat it as educational and promotional.
The worst thing about the day was that there are no pubs very near the National Archives so the discussions could not be continued over a pint or two. Perhaps next year I will suggest a tour of the historic pubs of Mortlake a short walk along the riverside that I know extremely well.
Next year, make sure you attend this very enjoyable and educational day.