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English Pubs

Updated on July 2, 2018
ethel smith profile image

With a keen interest in British politics this writer is never afraid to share her opinion

Traditional English Public House
Traditional English Public House

The great British Pub is the mainstay of each community in the UK, right?

Well these days that statement is so wrong.

A pub is a shortened name for a Public House. These places used to be the traditional drinking establishments of all those so inclined over the age of 18 in the U.K. and many chancers who were underage.

If you watch current soap operas in the U.K. such as Eastenders, Emmerdale and Coronation Street you might think that the local pub is still a thriving place; the hub of each community.

In reality though, pubs are closing down left, right and centre.

In the 18th Century the great British pub was called The Heart Of England.

English Soap Opera's Pubs

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Coronation Street's Rover's ReturnEastender's Queen VicEmmerdale's Woolpack Inn
Coronation Street's Rover's Return
Coronation Street's Rover's Return
Eastender's Queen Vic
Eastender's Queen Vic
Emmerdale's Woolpack Inn
Emmerdale's Woolpack Inn

So where oh where did it all go wrong?

My Northern England City

The city where I live used to have a thriving fishing community.

When these fishermen arrived home from a long sea trip fishing Icelandic waters they had money in their pockets and a thirst to quench. There was a pub on every corner and often another in between all willing to help them spend their hard earned pay.

These men were called three-day millionaires locally. They came home from a trip at sea on a three-day break with a wallet stuffed with banknotes and a huge thirst to quench.

Fishermen were notorious for getting blinding drunk, spending all their hard-earned cash and some, then returning home to beat their wife. Non of this is to be applauded but, when the fishing trade died in our city, so did a large part of the pub trade.

Times change though and there are many other reasons why the pub culture began to die.

Drink till you drop

In 2005 the Labour Government of the day relaxed what had been strict licensing laws. Instead of having a beneficial effect on pubs it added one more nail into the coffin of some establishments.

The problem was that in inner city pubs in particular excessive drinking, day and night, meant that all too many pubs were full of violent drunks; drunks that would then spill out onto the streets.

Pubs had hoped to change the mentality of their customers into treating their establishments differently. Many pubs had begun serving meals and were hoping to create a family atmosphere but sadly most failed.

Stub it out

In the summer of 2007 a smoking ban in public places in England became law.

This was the biggest negative for British pubs overall.

Smokers were no longer allowed to smoke in pubs but would have to step outside to indulge their habit.

Fine in summer weather but what about winter?

When I was a child in the fifties people were allowed to smoke anywhere and everywhere. Buses only allowed passengers to smoke on the top-deck and woe betide a non-smoker who had to venture upstairs for a seat. The air would be as thick as a deep fog with rows full of coughing passengers.

Over the years smoking gradually became more and more restricted. In the end we began to treat smokers as if they were criminals which is strange as the government likes to reap the rewards of cigarette taxes.

Making pubs non-smoking may have been the right choice but it was not a good economic one

Not long after the smoking ban we went to a wedding party in a local hotel.

What a boring evening.

Ultimately there was only myself and one other non-smoker sat together while everyone else sat outside on the side of the main road smoking, in spite of bad weather.

Many pubs have tried to introduce smoking shelters outside their premises but on the whole these have failed.

With cheap booze available in supermarkets almost 24/7 there is just no competition.

Smokers are choosing to have a drink or two in the comfort of their own homes rather than down the pub.

Recreational drugs

Teenagers years ago would try to get into the pub when they were underage to have an alcoholic drink. It was part of their rite of passage I guess.

But these days teenagers often prefer to experience recreational drugs such as Ecstasy and Mephedrone rather than a swift half down the pub.

The future of English Pubs

Most pubs now offer a restaurant service and this is what helps them survive financially.

English Pubs were so very English and those pubs still exist today in some villages, tourist locations, towns and cities.

There are many fewer pubs though than in the past and many are still going out of business on a regular basis.

Perhaps the true, traditional English Pub which was the heart of the community only exists in the 21st Century in the mind's eye of romantics and in history books.

In British soaps the local pub is still packed out every night

© 2010 Ethel Smith


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    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      10 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Well they can be rather rough :) It does depend where they are

    • sweetie1 profile image


      10 years ago from India

      Hi ethel , i have heard lot about British Pubs but never had been to that part of world. They look beautiful in pics.

    • 2patricias profile image


      10 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Hi Ethel,

      I've just put up a link from the latest installment of our continuing story. Two of the main characters meet in a pub - and this hub gives a good explanation of a pub.

      Hope you don't mind - this is intended as a compliment.

      BTW - I never liked smoking, but it is sad to see the desmise of pubs.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      11 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Sorry Dolores lol. There are still a few of those pubs but not many. Most that are full have problems with drugs and fighting.

      Just check out where you fancy drinking your pint before venturing inside.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      11 years ago from East Coast, United States

      ethel, well thanks for busting my balloon. I have always thought of British pubs as being warm, friendly places filled with commraderie, beer, and food, gathering spots for neighbors and friends.

      I know that smoking is bad for health and can be a nuisance to many people but it seems like they have gone from one extreme to the other, all or nothing.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      11 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks all. Yes it does redelf. hub on pubs indeed.

      Yes hello if they had kept what used to be called the Snug they may have kept some trade.

      Cbris I did not know pubs could get resort status. Interesting

    • cbris52 profile image


      11 years ago

      Hi Ethel, sounds like although smoking is a nasty habbit it has been the demise of the English Pub. I know that smoking has been banned in all bars except for one in the town I'm from. The bar that allows smoking inside holds a resort status and doesn't have to follow the same rules that other bars in the same city do. I really enjoyed reading your hub!

    • RedElf profile image


      11 years ago from Canada

      Oh, I was so hoping we'd see at least one hub on pubs - sounds like a Dr. Seuss book, no? ;) Thanks so much, ethel!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      11 years ago from London, UK

      As you know, I am not English but I loved the Pub. Don't get the wrong idea hahaha Seriously, even from outside there something about them. The nail in the coffin began with that stupid smoking ban. Now I have never smoked and I don't like it but to stop it completely was wrong. They should have kept a room aside for people to sit there because they want to smoke. It really breaks my heart to see them go one by one. Thank you for your hub, ethel.


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