Heart of the community – The Lost Pubs Project

Community pubs are one of Britain’s oldest and most popular social institutions. However, they are currently under pressure, with 16 pubs closing every week. This report assesses the social value of community pubs, showing why pubs matter, and why we should be concerned about the current state of the pub trade.

The audit of community pubs in this report shows that their numbers have been falling gradually for decades, but that closure rates have accelerated in recent years. Why are so many pubs closing? A number of connected factors have played a role.


  • Alcohol consumption tends to rise and fall with economic prosperity and the downturn in the economy has affected pub incomes.
  • Many of the old industrial and village communities surrounding local pubs have changed out of all recognition, reducing the number of devoted pub regulars in some areas.
  • Tastes and lifestyles have changed, with more people drinking wine and fewer people drinking beer, the mainstay of most pub income. The pub has faced competition from alternative leisure pursuits, such as the restaurant and the cinema. There has also been a signi cant rise in the number of people drinking at home, rather than in pubs and bars.
  • Beer prices have gone up in pubs and bars much faster than in shops and supermarkets. Supermarket discounts are thought to be one of the major factors in falling pub incomes.
  • Pub operators have faced rising costs as beer prices have increased and major legislative changes have imposed significant additional costs.
  • There is evidence that tenants of some of the large pub companies are finding it hard to compete because of the higher prices they are paying for their tied beer. There is a lack of transparency in the way some pub companies calculate their rents.


Why do pubs matter?

Pubs are more than just private businesses selling alcohol. Many pubs also play an important role at the heart of their local communities.

There are few institutions so central to Britain’s culture and way of life
as the local public house. Try to imagine Coronation Street without the Rover’s Return, Emmerdale without the Woolpack or EastEnders without the Queen Vic. Outside the home, the pub is the most popular place for British people of all ages and classes to relax and socialise.

And yet pubs are under pressure. Some of this pressure is economic in nature: many pubs are closing, having been caught in a dangerous cross re between changing consumer tastes, intense supermarket competition and the current economic downturn.

Pubs have also come under political pressure because of concerns about rising levels of alcohol consumption and the impact that has had on levels of crime and disorder: we are all familiar with the scenes of so-called ‘binge drinking’ in our town centers on a Friday and Saturday night. There are also concerns about the impact of excessive alcohol consumption on people’s health, and tackling this is one of the motivations for increasing alcohol duties.

It should be remembered how vital the local pub once was to the social fabric of working class people. I would say mainly male adults in post war period of the 1940’s and 1950’s, they offered more than a place of companionship, entertainment and beanos.  They were a voice to what was happening in the neighbourhood, where contacts were made and broadened with the hope and promise of opportunities that would improve the life of your family. An ‘undernet’ where the cost of a steady stream of various black markets goods would match the contents of your back pocket. Above all, it was a comfort to know that the local was always there for you. Until one day it wasn’t’.

(Excerpt from ‘REMNANTS OF YESTERDAY. Recollections of the East End’ by Bob Roberts).


Please help me with my latest project to archive these lost pubs of Cornwall before they are forgotten for ever. If you know of a pub which has closed at any time in the past, please submit it, together with any historical information or photographs that you might have. Pubs do re-open from time to time, so if you see one let me know

Contact me on here (wordpress comments) or by email at michaelmurt22@aol.com

I start with 2 pubs from major towns in Cornwall an will be adding to the list as and when I take images


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