Mary Evans collection of the week: National Brewery Centre Archives
Pubs eh. Remember them? If you’re missing the simple joy of a cold pint and a crackling fire, or just the thrill of being somewhere that isn’t home, soaking up the convivial atmosphere among other people, then this collection will quicken your heart.
We are delighted to announce our representation of the National Brewery Centre Archive, based in Britain’s brewing capital, Burton-on-Trent. We will be adding more to this collection over the coming months, but wanted to draw your attention to the first set of images; 4440 photographs (and some illustrations) of former pubs belonging to the East End brewery, Charrington & Co.
This priceless photographic record of pub architecture was saved thirty years ago by Robert Humphreys MBE, now a Director of The National Brewery Heritage Trust, when the entire collection had been dumped in a skip during an office move. Thankfully the photographs have been preserved for posterity, and are now available to license via Mary Evans. You don’t have to be a brewing history expert to appreciate this collection, which offers views of hundreds of watering holes, reflecting the range and variety of architectural styles in the public houses Charrington owned. There are cosy, thatched or weatherboard-clad pubs in country villages from Kent to Somerset echoing the local vernacular; flamboyant gin palaces of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras, once seducing drinkers on every prime corner site in London; tucked-away East End boozers and the Tudorbethan behemoths built along suburban thoroughfares between the wars. There are even examples of mid-century pubs constructed as part of housing estates or new towns, and if you want a photograph of a Wimpy Bar or Toby Carvery, you’ve come to the right place..
But while this is a fascinating foray into pub architecture, be warned, it’s also an emotional one. If you’re the sort of person who sighs wistfully every time they pass a former pub, closed, abandoned, or turned into something else entirely, it’s tough to see how many of the pubs in this collection were victims of the wrecking ball or unscrupulous developers.
As Robert writes: “History sometimes seems remote, detached and hard to hold in one’s hand. This collection brings history into our own lives. Pubs lie at the heart of their communities, and the people in them are the heart of the pub. Following our emotions and instincts in the pursuit of personal understanding through this collection can bring great rewards.”
Click here to see a selection from the National Brewery Centre Archive and look out for more additions to this collection soon.Mary Evans Picture Library newsletter – 14 January 2021.