Pub history in 2018

I don’t even know where to start with this one. I guess I could talk about Brexit (without any emotion) to clarify my hunger for adding pub history around the UK to my various sites.

So, a short while back I discovered a rather excellent database on the web which lists the Foods Standards Agency data for pubs and licensed premises. This was for August 2018, and the label said, no restrictions on what you do with the data.

So, I kept a copy. I then dabbled again with database technology, i.e. mysql, and had a copy which i could run queries against. Then I dropped that idea!

Next, I worked through just the London Boroughs, which was highly useful. I know for example, that Havering is a London Borough, largely in Essex prior to about 1965 or 1974. I knew very little about which other London suburbs were also now in London. Anyway, to cut a story short, this supplied me with a list of about 4,400 pubs and their modern address and postcode.

I am a bit of a nurd, if this is the correct term, and I like data. I collect data for London pub history, not always very interesting, but it shows the occupants of an address which was a pub at some stage in its life over the last two hundred years; and lots of useful facts. Its what i do. I do the same for many other areas around London, and it is also fairly strong in Essex etc, but much of my data runs out around 1944. To find later listings takes quite a lot of effort, and then match these in with earlier addresses, etc etc. is even harder.

So, I do have the best collection of data for London pub history, however boring it may look – my view also! It does not stop me doing this.

And then I watched the Channel 4 program on Brexit, a dramatisation of how the referendum was won. Again, with no emotion, this clearly endorsed the view that there are many people outside of London who do not feel they are included, and almost ignored for their role in life. This is where it gets interesting.

There are the usual elections every four years, in which two or maybe three electoral parties fight over a specific area, and the outcome of each vote elects an MP for that area. The turn-out for these elections can be quite low. Many feel that their voice (one vote) makes little difference. Those that do vote are often voting for what they believe is the least draconian outcome, hence the reason the Conservative party continue to stay in power, or sometimes the Labour party.

Very few people around the country really understand that a vote can make a difference, some of us do.

But, in the case of the Brexit referendum, it was a choice to remain or leave the EU. The eventual vote was hailed as being very racially biased, it was largely based on hysterical views on both sides as to the eventual outcome. It split families and different age groups significantly, with the younger people more interested in remaining in the EU, and the older, typical voter more likely to have the opposing view.

It also involved a significant percentage of non-voters to decide to be ‘heard’ for the first time, as a call for help, or ‘take back control’ or however you wish to describe this. This is good, even if the outcome was distorted.

Back to pub history. There are 4400 pubs in London, but over 50,000 around the UK. A huge number of pubs have closed over the years for may reasons, often because of being tied to a particular brewery, and therefore not being  economical; or just because they were too quiet. Many others have been burnt down (eventually) for reasons of building application reforms, etc. Sometimes they use a digger truck to knock a building down the day before a preservation order! Life happens.

The bigger winners have been the newer pubs opening with a different economic model, that of being larger pubs,  selling local foods at affordable prices, a range of beers at affordable prices, etc. I am mainly referring to Wetherspoons, who are also a major advocate of exiting the EU, and are very clear on this subject in a number of ways. This economic model works brilliantly, and I have to say, I like their pubs. I was eating in their Lincoln pub at the weekend, food good, soft drink was OK.

Most Wetherspoon pubs have very little history as a pub, but most people who drink in them are happy with the historical stories they are told about the area. It’s a pub, not a museum.

Where am I going with this? Well, I now have a number of pages, all linked from one page of the entirety of the UK pub scene as listed in August 2018. I started it in London, and have been adding links to the various pubs which still exist.

I have now extended this to other vast parts of the country, and I am working on Lancashire at present. There is still more to come, but the relevant point is that London is very important, but so is the rest of the country, and it is at a factor of over ten to that of London. The most annoying fact is that I know so little about all of the UK, and I wish I knew more. But I do data, and that’s where it ends.

I like data, however insignificant. I don’t usually ramble on so much about anything, but needed to share this.


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