England’s Pubs: part of our history, part of our future?

Historic Pubs Symposium held on 15 June 2022 

TDR Heritage (with Shropshire Council) and Lincolnshire County Council planned a one day event for Beer Day Britain in 2022. It was a symposium broadcast live over the web, with speakers covering a broad range of topics – from the historic place of the pub in the landscape to the hard economics of a modern business.

About the event

The event was organised to celebrate and reflect on the place of rural pubs as a key part of the English landscape. They’ve been under a lot of commercial pressure in recent years – worsened by the impact of COVID19 across the hospitality industry. Sometimes the historic significance of old pubs is only revealed when they are demolished or converted to new uses, at a point where the magic of a pub as a place where community comes together, a place hosted by the landlord or landlady, is already lost.

The symposium centred around two projects funded by Historic England that had been set up to investigate the past and future of rural pubs. The projects focused on the contrasting landscapes of coastal Lincolnshire (Inns on the Edge) and rural Shropshire (Inn Sites) and used a combination of heritage knowledge and specialist commercial expertise to understand the pressures on these businesses and the opportunities for them to thrive and innovate in a challenging environment. The Lincolnshire Project has also explored the landscapes in which these historic pubs sit and how publicans, locals and visitors make these places.

These projects are intended to help pub operators, communities and local authorities to sustain rural pubs as going concerns, not frozen in time, but with their special physical and social qualities intact.

A recording of the full symposium is now available on Historic England’s YouTube channel and can be seen here:

Agenda (and minutes in the recording)

Introduction: England’s rural pubs in challenging times (0 to 4.20) Tim Allen, Historic England

Called to the bar – advocating the significance of England’s historic pubs (4.20 to 12.00) Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive, Historic England

History of pubs from the 1500s onwards (12.30 to 46.20) Victoria Ellis-Vowles, University of Lincoln

Inn Sites – Recording Shropshire’s Undesignated Rural Public Houses (46.20 to 1.09.00)  Vicky Hunns, TDR Heritage Ltd

Inns on the Edge – Lincolnshire’s coastal pubs yesterday and today (1.09.00 to 1.36.45)  Marc Knighton, Lincolnshire County Council

Lincolnshire coastal landscape study and what it tells us about pubs  (1.36.45 to 2.07.45) Dr Caitlin Green

The economic viability of pubs and what the future holds, and how can heritage contribute to their success (2.07.45 to 2.31.50) Lynn Thomason, Hotel Solutions

Q&A, discussion session with panel of speakers (2.31.50 to 2.55.50)      .

Beer and pubs – their place in English culture (2.55.50 to 3.10.20) Roger Protz, CAMRA

Thanks, and farewell (3.10.20 to 3.12.26) Tim Allen