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Campaign to save Bath’s boozers holds free history lesson for pub-goers

THE campaign to protect Bath’s endangered hostelries is staging a free public history lesson about the city’s lost pubs – in a bid to learn from the mistakes of landlords of old.

The Inn at Freshford will host a talk by local historian Kirsten Elliott on Wednesday, October 17.  Kirsten and her husband Andrew Swift are the authors of ‘Bath Pubs’ and ‘The Lost Pubs of Bath’ – along with many other historic titles from their Bath-based publishing house Akeman Press.

Kirsten’s illustrated glimpse into the area’s boozy past is part of the ‘Save Bath’s Historic Pubs Campaign’, which was launched last month by The Inn at Freshford landlord Mark Birchall.

His quest to safeguard the future of the city’s pubs follows the recent closure of The Packhorse Inn, South Stoke – which has closed after being sold by owner Punch.

Mr Birchall’s campaign is demanding Bath and North East Somerset Council strengthen its planning policies to help protect historic pubs from greedy developers – ensuring they can only close and be redeveloped for housing or offices if they are no longer used by the community.

“To protect our pubs in the future, we must first learn lessons from the past and there’s no one better locally to shine a light on Bath’s lost pubs than Kirsten,” said Mr Birchall, 40, who has worked behind bars in Bath all of his working life.

Mr Birchall’s campaign and petition has already been backed by nearly 100 customers and local landlords, as well as the advocacy group Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

Mr Birchall added:  “I hope Kirsten’s talk will generate even more support by demonstrating the damage that has already been done to our city’s pubs.

“Over the years there are far too many opportunistic developers feeding off the temporary downturn in the pub trade.

“We don’t want any more historic hostelries to have to pull their final pint during this temporary downturn in the pub trade.

“Kirsten’s talk is free and people can enjoy a pint of beer, some nibbles and a tour of the 16th century village inn beforehand.

“Hopefully representatives from Guildhall will come along for a tour – who knows, it might inspire them to publicly stand up for Bath’s historic pubs.”

Kirsten said her history lesson on Bath’s lost pubs would touch on many of the hostelries covered in the books, with a particular emphasis on The Inn at Freshford and The Packhorse’s past.

“One thing is for sure; if we were writing ‘Bath Pubs’ today, it would be a lot thinner than when we wrote it nearly 10 years ago,” said Kirsten.

“Likewise, if we were writing ‘The Lost Pubs of Bath’ today, it would be a lot thicker than when it was first published in 2005.

“Hopefully by delving into Bath’s past, we boost interest in the campaign,” said Kirsten.

“There will be lots of historic photos to accompany my talk – many of which we’ve only recently discovered.”

A House of Commons document published earlier this year showed that almost 8,000 pubs have closed in the South West in the last decade.  The figures include 7,745 in Somerset.  Higher tax rates, competition from supermarkets and the smoking ban, have all been blamed.  New research from CAMRA, however, suggests community pubs generate up to £120,000 a year of social value to their areas.

To sign the ‘Save Bath’s Historic Pubs’ campaign petition visit; http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/bath/ or follow @InnatFreshford on Twitter.

For more information, interviews or photos contact Wayne Cornish on 07891 613293, or email wayne@avalanchemedia.org

Notes to Editor:
• The Inn at Freshford is located by the River Frome crossing that gave the village its name.
• In addition to our range of quality wines, we are proud to be able to offer a range of beers from our own microbrewery – Box Steam Brewery – situated less than 10 miles from The Inn at Freshford.
• Each of these CAMRA award-winning ales are ideal as an accompaniment to any meal or to savour on their own.
• To view our menu or see what events are forthcoming, visit http://www.theinnatfreshford.co.uk/menus/