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28th Jun, 2022

New book explores city's love affair with its pubs

Worcester Editorial 3rd Dec, 2013 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

THE FAITHFUL city’s enduring love affair with its pubs has been brought to life in an enlightening new book.

Bob Backenforth’s, Worcester Pubs Then and Now, lists a total of 656 licensed inns, pubs and taverns known to have existed since 1400s.

The lavishly-illustrated book also shows their landlords, position on the city map, the same locations today and other facts as well as hundreds of archived photographs mostly unseen until now.

The author, ex-journalist and editor Bob Blandford, said his 484-page full-colour book finally laid to rest the myth Worcester could once boast a different pub for every day of the year.

“It’s a rare day that some boozy soul doesn’t lurch over and offer me the entirely unsolicited information that Worcester once had 365 pubs,” he said.

“That was never the case – but at least it remains an indication of the pride that Worcester folk have traditionally taken in telling tales of their amazingly long list of drinking establishments.”

In addition to some little known details on every known establishment – including several sometimes quite grisly murders – the book also profiles nearly 200 colourful Worcester characters.

“Like most Worcester folk, I grew up believing the tale I’d heard at my grandfather’s knee that at one time you could go into a different pub every day starting on January 1, and not return to the same pub until the same date the following year,” Bob added.

“Sadly, like most things pub-related, there’s an element of exaggeration about it, and the truth is rather less colourful.

“The most that existed at any one time was 238 around 1900 – but even so, given the population at the time it’s easy to see where Worcester’s reputation for having more pubs per person stems from – and despite considerably fewer pubs today, the City is still right up there as a contender for the same title.”

Bob said that was one of the reasons why Worcester remains a popular draw for dedicated pub crawlers and visiting stag- and hen parties.

“Worcester was, and still is, famous for its pub crawls,” he added.

“In the 1930s it was the famous Station Run whereby a young man qualified as ‘one of the lads’ if he could sup a half-pint in every pub he passed between The Cross and Shrub Hill Station and still ask for his ticket back to… well, the destination was immaterial!”

The book also makes a case for Worcester to claim well-deserved alternative titles such as ‘The City with the most pubs standing next door to each other’ and ‘The City with the most pub ghosts’

“There’s no doubt that Worcester’s has been a love, love, relationship with its pubs since time began but it’s a sobering thought that the City now has fewer pubs than it did in 1750 – when the population was one-seventh of today’s figure.”

‘Bob Backenforth’s Worcester Pubs Then and Now’ is published by The Whole Picture Publishing Company and costs £17.99. It is available at The Hive, Worcester Tourist Information Centre, at Waterstone’s, and at Tudor House Museum – which was also a pub called The Cross Keys up to 1910.

The book can also be bought online directly from www.worcester-pubs.co.uk.

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