In May 2021, as pubs all over Shropshire re-opened their doors, we launched a new project called ‘Inn Sites’.
For the next few months our team will be traveling up and down the Shropshire countryside recording information about a selection of old, rural pub buildings.
Pubs have always been an important feature of Shropshire’s everyday life, as well as being a draw to tourists and contributing to the local economy. Our project will help to celebrate that legacy by investigating their past – both through the buildings themselves, and the people that use them.
Remembering and Recording Shropshire’s Rural Pub Heritage
The project is funded by Historic England and involves desk-based research and site visits to assess these local heritage assets and their significance.
We are producing records for each pub that will be held by the Shropshire Historic Environment Record (HER) and Archive. This means that the results will be available to key decision makers – strategic planners, Conservation Officers and Planning Officers – if they need to understand the significance of a building (for example, as part of the planning process) – as well as anyone involved in further assessment or research.
As part of the project, we’ve run three one day courses in rural Shropshire to introduce people to researching local places, and a two day event for young people, using one of our project pubs to teach filming and editing ‘digital skills’.
With the help of local volunteers, we have also been amassing more detailed information about 10 of our ‘project pubs’. Find out more about them here.
Adding to our knowledge
Our project is focussing on ‘rural and undesignated pubs’ because we know so little about these particular buildings and their lack of protection means that they are most ‘at risk’ from change.
That means that we won’t be covering the pubs in the 127 Conservation Areas or the 327 listed buildings in the county that are recorded as having been public houses, inns, hotels or ale houses – but there are still plenty on our list!
Historic mapping shows that in Shropshire, around 140 years ago, 205 undesignated rural buildings were public houses, inns, hotels or ale houses.
In March 2021, 128 of these were still licensed pubs.
As well as being concerned with these pubs as physical historical assets, the project will use them as means of gathering collective, cultural memories and an opportunity to carry out activities and training allied to the research within local communities. This work will help establish the significance of the assets which are still identified as ‘pubs’ in planning or licensing terms, as well as improving capacity, knowledge and heritage skills within local communities, and helping them champion the conservation and enhancement of their local historic environment.