As the final instalment of our blog series about the London Local Pubs: Past and Present ebook, we interview Adrian Tierney-Jones, well-known British pub and beer writer and the author of the book and ebook. We picked his brain about pubs and why he likes writing about them, and asked him about his research for this particular book, which ended up differing a little from his usual process.
What did you like best about working on this book?
I loved finding out about pubs that I’ve never heard of. It gave me a sudden interest to seek them out. For example, I’d be keen to visit the Railway Tavern in the East End, the one with the early morning opening hours for the railway workers.
As I’ve written many books about pubs in London, I think I know them all. I also used to live in London and know many pubs personally. However, this book has opened up a whole new layer of them for me to engage with. It is always great to discover and rediscover pubs.
What did you think about the story-gathering process and did it help with your research?
The story-gathering process was really great. Historypin’s Community Officers would go and set up a community archiving session in one of the pubs, where they invited landlords, regulars and locals to come and share their memories and experiences of the pub. In some pubs, they even collected photographs and drawings. They would then send me the audio files and their transcriptions, as well as the materials they had collected.
For me, this was very helpful. It takes a lot of time to do research and sometimes professional writers just don’t have the luxury to do this in-depth work. Having a team that goes out and talks to the people in the pubs is very useful.
What advice would you give people who also want to write books about pubs?
Listen to people. Pubs aren’t just the buildings they occupy or the beer they serve, but they are made up of people, past and present. When you write about a pub, you need to evoke the atmosphere of the pub and make the reader feel that they are part of this mini-universe by engaging all their senses. But not just the reader needs to feel a connection to the pub, you do too. A public house is a public home, so be a part of it.
London Local Pubs: Past and Present is an ebook developed as part of the Europeana Food and Drink project, taking the reader on a journey through the history of London’s pubs, told through never-before-seen archival photographs and the stories and memories from their landlords and regulars. You can find more information about it and buy a copy of it at www.londonlocalpubs.com
By Lise Schauer, Historypin