The Twentieth Century Society

Review: Britain’s Best Real Heritage Pubs: Pub Interiors of Outstanding Historic Interest

by Geoff Brandwood (CAMRA, 288pp, £9.99; CAMRA members £7.99)

Reviewed by Robert Drake

This latest historic pub guide – by former Victorian Society Chair Geoff Brandwood – eclipses  previous CAMRA guides in its comprehensiveness (it covers 270 pubs over the whole of the UK) and in the high quality of its images.  It includes many surviving 1920s and 1930s pub interiors: some well-known and visited on C20 events, like the fabulous Test Match in West Bridgford, Nottingham, the enormous ‘brewer’s Tudor’ edifice that is the Black Horse, Northfield, Birmingham, and the neo-medieval King and Queen in Central Brighton, as well as many others new to me. It also demonstrates CAMRA’s effective lobbying in getting a fair selection of inter-war pub interiors listed.

The book contains useful short features on pub design and the variations found around the country, such as the stand-up drinking lobbies found in the North – like the 1930s Three Pigeons in Halifax – and why a pub is not really a pub in Scotland but an inn, tavern or bar. It also includes four rare examples of surviving 1950s and 1960s pub interiors, but you must buy the book to find out where they are.  There is a list of recently closed pubs, including the Crook Inn, Tweedsmuir, in the Scottish Borders, with its deco interiors, and some that just missed being included in the list of 270 but are still worth a visit, such as the Old Red Lion, Kennington.  Finally, it suggests a number of possible ‘end of event’ refreshment venues for C20 Society when we eventually visit places such as Worcester, Scunthorpe or Aberdeen!

Available from or by post from CAMRA at 230 Hatfield Road, St Albans, Herts AL1 4LW.