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Why should we care about pubs?

Victoria Wells discusses why we should care about, and protect pubs.
Photos of the outside of the Moors Inn, Appleton-le-Moors, North Yorkshire, UK
© Victoria Wells

As will have already started to become apparent with the pubs you’ve shared, there really is no typical pub.

As Jennings (2021) notes pubs cover

“an astonishing variety of establishments, from city gin palaces to basic back-street boozers, from railway hotels to rural inns. And more than that it is possible to see each pub as possessing its own individuality, formed from its architecture and interior design, the types of drinks and sometimes food on offer, the publican and his staff and the varied mix of customers and the favoured pursuits…….in answer to the question – what is a pub, no typical pub in fact exist[s].”

In any city, town or county, pubs will have similarities with each other but each will also be unique – we’ll continue to see this in the rest of this week but also in the other weeks of the course. What brings them together is that they offer a context for sociability and friendship and as important community spaces. This is the reason they are so important to us both personally, in our communities and nationally.

As we’ll find out more about, especially in Week 3, pubs are under threat and struggling to survive many different and multifaceted pressures. Over the last 25 years significant changes in the structure of the industry have affected how pubs are managed and owned, the smoking ban changed the atmosphere of pubs and many people simply didn’t feel welcome anymore, opportunities for expanded home entertainment have grown and supermarkets and off licences have provided stiff competition through pricing and offers.

More recently covid, the cost of living crisis, increased energy costs and problems filling hospitality vacancies, partly due to Brexit, have put additional pressure on the sector.

But to really understand these threats and modern day pubs we first need to go back and look at the history of pubs which we’ll do for the rest of this week first looking at pubs over 100 years ago before coming up-to-date, looking at contemporary pubs.


Jennings, P. (2021) The Local: A History of the English Pub, The History Press

© Victoria Wells/University of York
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Pubs: History, Consumers, Management, and Protection

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