29/11/2021 - Permalink

Cheers to the rural pub project research volunteers as 10 sites picked

Related topics: Leisure, culture and heritage

A team exploring historic Ordnance Survey maps from the 1880s onwards have been working out the evolution of 200 pub buildings across the Shropshire countryside.

The team, from TDR Heritage have now picked a top ten of buildings they want to delve into as part of a research project.

Historic Photo of the Old Gate Inn

The 10 pubs picked are:

  • The Blue Bell Hotel, Pentrehyling
  • The Horse and Jockey, Northwood
  • Hundred House, Purslow
  • Last Inn, Church Aston
  • Old Gate Inn, Heathton
  • Old Three Pigeons, Great Ness
  • Original Ball, Maesbury, Oswestry
  • Seven Stars, Broadstone
  • Sun Inn, Corfton
  • The Punchbowl, Bridgnorth

Old Gate Inn © John Haynes, 2021

These pubs were picked out of the 100s explored and for different reasons: some of the ten, for instance the Old Three Pigeons and Seven Stars, have architectural details which made the team wonder if they are that little bit older and more historic.

Others, such as The Blue Bell Hotel, are now vacant and, with uncertain future, mean that they are potentially at real risk of being lost, or converted. And some quite simply were picked to help us understand how pubs differ across the Shropshire countryside.

For these top ten the team is hoping to carry out a more involved survey of the buildings themselves, but are also keen to find out a bit more about them from the point of view of the story of the people and communities who visited them.

They are investigating the experiences of the publicans who ran them and the staff who worked there; the local beer that was served; whether there any major events that took place there – such as jubilee or coronation celebrations, or if the building had more than one role in the heart of the community.

To help answer these questions TDR Heritage are working with a dedicated team of volunteers. By visiting the pubs, poring over sources in Shropshire Archives, and carrying out new research online is helping to bring the heritage of these rural pub gems alive.

Research team member Anthony Price said:

I have been researching the Old Gate Inn in Heathton which was also known at The Wicket. It’s been a pub since the 1760 and many colourful characters have run it or drank here.

It has had its fair share of local tragedies too, such as the death of the second landlord John Plimley Junior after he was thrown from a pony and trap. His wife Rebecca went on the run the pub and married very quickly soon after and a sale of his belongings was held at the pub following his death. Rebecca was the first female licensee of the Gate…a bit of a rarity in the 1890’s.

TDR Heritage’s Director Vicky Hunns is enthusiastic about the information which is being discovered.

She said:

The information our volunteer research team are finding is fascinating and invaluable. It helps build up a picture of how significant these pubs were and still are to their local community, enriching our knowledge for the future and making sure these buildings do not become ‘at risk’.

At the end of the project all the information collected will be shared with Shropshire Archives and become part of Shropshire’s Historic Environment Record (HER), the database of information about the county’s heritage held by Shropshire Council’s Historic Environment Team.

Can you help? Do you have information you would like to share about any of the ten pub buildings?

Would like to join the research project and help discover more about Shropshire’s rural pub heritage?

Find the project on Facebook @InnSites on our website tdrheritage.co.uk/innsites and contact us tdrheritage@gmail.com