The Pubs of Wheathampstead
Most of us have been to a pub at some time or another and, indeed, it’s likely that many of us have been and still go to lots of different pubs usually, just because they are a social drinking establishment. Pubs must be licensed to sell alcoholic drinks, which traditionally include all sorts of beer, and cider. People typically choose a pub for its proximity to home or work, the availability of a particular beer or a good selection, good food, a social atmosphere, the presence of friends and acquaintances and the availability of activities such as a darts team, a skittles team, and a pool or snooker table.their feet. A public meeting agreed that money would be raised to fund the project.
In many places, especially in villages, pubs can be the focal point of the community.
It’s easy to see, these days, why the traditional drinking establishments in Wheathampstead attract a loyal following of regulars through their doors as well as a decent share of occasional local drinkers or visitors.
But it wasn’t always like that;- according to our local history society, between the years of 1830 – 1914, there were a total of 26 pubs in Wheathampstead. Their book, The Pubs of Wheathampstead, provides an in-depth review of those pubs as well as an insight into the lives of people living in Wheathampstead during the years in question.
The 68 page book is clearly well researched and sets the scene for the times by highlighting the social hierarchy of Wheathampstead and also elements of Whites Trade Directory for Wheathampstead which breaks down the numbers of people who were involved invarious trades. These included grocers, butchers, brewers and coopers as well as the 14 men and women who were in the business of selling alcoholic drinks. The book goes on to describe the economic decline due to the repeal of the Corn Laws and the later economic revival when the railway arrived.
It tells of the rise in fortunes of the licensed trade and the ‘Beer house Act’ which led to increase in numbers of establishments able to sell beer and its decline as, amongst other things, the strong temperance movement of the times warned of the evils of the demon drink.
The book details many of the pubs now along with descriptions and black and white images of how they used to look and generally what became of them and the reasons behind their closure or decline. There are sections on troublesome pubs, railway pubs and even respectable pubs in the area with snippets of the landlords and the lives of the families involved in running them.
Not only is the book an interesting read with some great images, it’s also full of local information and associated facts about life in Wheathampstead at the time.
MiniMagazines spoke to some of the people who run our local pubs and drinking houses in the area today to get their views.
Being part of the Community
Sally and Glenn, owners of two local pubs, love playing their part in all that’s good about Wheathampstead. They arrived at The Swan almost 5 years ago and took over the Elephant and Castle in Amwell around 3½ years ago and it seems that it’s been virtually non-stop ever since. Both pubs are very involved locally, with The Swan playing host to various local groups including the Dramatic Society, the U3A and the History Society, while Joe, manager at the Elephant and Castle, works with ALF, the Amwell Local Fundraisers to ensure that over 60’s locals are well served.
Sally told MiniMagazines, “I can honestly say that we love it here. Both Glen and I feel very settled, we’ve made loads of new friends and we’re lucky to have such great customers across both pubs. Of course, we loved the book ‘The Pubs of Wheathampstead’. We have copies in both pubs for sale and its very popular and there’s a talk here about pub history on Tuesday 10th September’”
Matt and Nick from Farr Brew and the Reading Rooms also loved the book and all the information it provided about the village. They told us, “It’s great to be part of a village like Wheathampstead and, whilst we’ve been brewing beer here for a while, we celebrated our first birthday at the Reading Rooms, our micro pub, in the village in June this year. Even though we are still fairly new we’ve been embraced by the warmth of the community and the locals here have been simply amazing.”
The Book ‘The Pubs of Wheathampstead 1830 – 1914’ at £5 is available from The Swan, The reading Rooms, The Post Office and Farr Brewery .