Most people around the world know that British pubs are a national institution but from 2001 to 2018, 25% of our pubs closed due to the changing nature of our societies, work-life patterns, availability of cheaper drinks elsewhere and other factors such as the use of social-media which has reduced people actually going out and the banning of smoking back in the time of Tony Blair which showed up the fact that the heavy smoking pub-goers also drank a lot and the people who complained about the fact that they would go to pubs more if only there was no smoke, largely didn’t. The pub trade was also affected by devastating changes to business taxes and alcohol duties.
However, the decline of the British pub may have not just ended but gone into reverse as for the first time in over a decade we have ended up with 320 more pubs than a year earlier with Office of National Statistics recording 39,135 pubs nationwide.
Whilst still much reduced from the turn of the millennia and only a fraction compared to a century earlier it marks a dramatic turnaround compared compared with recent years when around 732 pubs a year closed on average.
The upturn in fortunes is likely to increase further with chains such as Wetherspoon announcing £200 million expansion plans for additional pubs which will also create 10,000 new jobs.
What is it that it behind the reversal of fortunes is hard to pin down but it seems pubs have upped their game somewhat with improved food menus and some offering accommodation and more or better live music, almost as they would have once been the centre of the community in centuries gone by.
In fact communities have played an important role as recently introduced powers have allowed communities to save their beloved locals from redevelopment into more lucrative housing. With the continued stagnation of high-street shopping and so many other places where people can stop and interact in a leisurely manner with strangers and friends alike, pubs are becoming even more vital for those who want to mingle and spend time with living people rather than screens.
Booming cities and tourist hotspots in the countryside are doing best of all but in other places such as the suburbs where there can be a near dearth of community spirit and more impoverished towns and rural areas where there isn’t the spare cash, pubs are still closing down.
Through Ye Olde England Tours, I do some great pub tours to authentic pubs that are mostly well away from the tourist crowds so if you fancy a good walk, history and the odd drink then why not join me and find out just how great and different British pubs can be.