If you want to discover the the essence of a town’s past, study the story of its pubs. That was the message from prominent local author and historian Andrew White to a meeting held at Lancaster’s Borough pub.
The meeting, organised by the local branch of The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and which attracted more than 60 people, was given a fascinating insight into how the city’s existing pubs evolved from the hotels, taverns, inns and beer houses of the past.
Andrew White’s interest in Lancaster’s hostelries began when he was curator at the city museum and realised there was a wealth of information just waiting to be researched.
The audience heard about the impact of the coaching industry and the carriers’ trade, hiring fairs for servants (where “bargains were nearly always struck in pubs”) and the bribery and corruption — again often centred on pubs — that accompanied elections in the past.
The speaker, whose latest book Lancaster’s Historic Inns, was published last year, revealed that at one time Lancaster boasted a hundred pubs, but now the number was closer to 50. “Though many have disappeared, we know where they once stood,” he said. “For example in the 17th century there were three pubs in Market Square: The Royal Oak, George & Dragon and today’s sole survivor, The Blue Anchor (1725 Tapas Bar).”
This well-attended event, which concluded with a lively question and answer session, indicates a continuing interest in and commitment to “the local”. Lunesdale CAMRA branch representative, Julian Holt, commented: “Pubs are a unique part of our heritage and continue to play a prominent role in local culture. We are grateful to Andrew White for his lively exploration of the roots of this much-loved institution.&rdquo