HISTORIAN Dr Paul Jennings is familiar to Telegraph & Argus readers for his regular articles on old Bradford pubs.

As a third edition of his book The Local: A History of the English Pub and Bradford Pubs is published, Dr Jennings writes about why pubs remain so significant to our heritage and identity:

The coronavirus pandemic and the government’s response to it has had an unprecedented impact on the national life, not least on that great English institution - the pub.

At one and the same time it has highlighted the decline which the pub has faced for some years now and yet showed just how important it remains to the nation’s leisure habits and its sense of identity. It is therefore timely that the History Press has brought out a new, third, edition of my book The Local: A History of the English Pub.

Originally published in 2007, a second paperback edition came out in 2011. It traced the origins of the modern pub back to medieval inns, alehouses and taverns and through the gin shops of the 18th century and 19th century beerhouses to the 1870s, when the word ‘pub’ came into general use for the variety of drinking places.

Similarly, the use of the homely term ‘local’ only came to be used from the 1930s, and more especially during the Second World War when the pub was seen as vital to sustaining morale.

I told the stories of the men and women who ran them and the customers who drank and socialised there, the conversations they had, music they heard and games they played. Throughout the book I sought to set the story in the broader economic, social, political, and cultural history of England

For this new edition I have taken the opportunity to revise the introduction, make a number of amendments to the original text, to update comprehensively the section on sources and further reading and to add to the final chapter a concluding section on the pandemic and its significance in the long history of the pub.

I have written, lectured and broadcast on the history of the pub and drink for some 30 years now. During that time, it has often been suggested to me that the research must be fun. In fact, most of it, as with any history, has been in archives and libraries, pleasures which have also been denied in the last year. I did, however, benefit from my experience working in the late 1970s at the White Lion pub in Chapel Stile, attached to the Langdales Hotel in Great Langdale, at once a tourist pub and a local.

More broadly I have spent time in many a pub, Bradford favourites being the Cock and Bottle on Barkerend Road, sadly now closed, and the Corn Dolly, Bolton Road, happily still trading, as is the Albert Hotel in Keighley, although I believe much altered since the early ‘90s.

Further afield, a great favourite in the 1980s and 1990s was the Castle Hotel in Oldham Street, Manchester, a wonderful old-fashioned city centre pub, still open as a music venue and ‘performance space’. Or the Princess Louise in High Holborn, such a wonderful example of a Victorian pub that it is listed Grade II, including the men’s toilets.

The other question put to me is how I came to the subject. The above gives one clue but in the first place I was born in Bradford, in Manningham, from where we moved to Little Horton. After some years away: working, at university and travelling, I returned to the city and immersed myself in its history. It was whilst teaching at Bradford University’s Centre for Continuing Education that its Head, the late Tony Jowitt, suggested old inns and pubs as a suitable topic for a class. The preliminary research then drew me irrevocably into the subject. In 1995 I published a detailed study, The Public House in Bradford, 1770-1970 and in 2004 was asked to produce an illustrated book on Bradford Pubs, which is still in print. I then broadened my horizons to look at the national picture in The Local.

Finally, I broadened them still further to cover the whole vast subject of alcoholic drink and the society in which it is consumed in A History of Drink and the English, 1500-2000, published in 2016. This last work also highlighted the negative aspects of drinking in drunkenness, violence and ill health, which throughout history has led to government restriction and regulation and to vociferous campaigns against it, from the 19th century temperance movement to modern public health advocates.

After 30 years of books and many articles, I still contribute short pieces on pubs to the Telegraph and Argus, which seem to be of interest, but have shifted my historical attentions to Harrogate, where we have lived now for nearly 25 years. I completed a study of its working class in its Edwardian heyday, which is in the press. But it was a pleasure to revisit The Local after 14 years.

* Visit pauljenningshistorian.wordpress.com and thehistorypress.co.uk