All About 20th Century Pub

The cover of 20th Century Pub.

Our second book, 20th Century Pub, was published by Homewood Press in the summer/autumn of 2017. This page will tell you everything you need to know about it, and where you can get a copy for yourself.

Before the blurb, let’s have the nitty-gritty: you can buy the book, RRP £16.99, at…

  • Your local indie bookshop (they’ll order it if they don’t have it already)
  • Amazon UK (not dispatching until after 15.09.2017)
  • Beer Inn Print (specialises in beer and pubs books)
  • Blackwells (and Heffer’s)
  • Books About Beer (in partnership with the publisher; great page previews)
  • The Campaign for Real Ale (discount for members; sales support the campaign)
  • Foyles (in some stores, apparently; not online)
  • Stanfords
  • Waterstones (some stores; not online)
  • And no doubt other places too.

There are no plans for e-book editions at present or for a US edition.

If you want a signed edition get in touch via and we’ll probably be able to sort you out at £15 a copy inc. P&P within the UK and c.£25 for dispatch worldwide.

Chapter header.

The book tells the story of how the English pub changed and evolved during the 20th century and up to the present day. Whereas many books about pubs focus on the pretty, quaint or traditional ones we’ve almost bloody-mindedly covered the less well-loved sub-types. That is, huge inter-war pubs; post-war estate pubs; Irish pubs; Wetherspoon-type chain pubs; and gastropubs. We’ve also given over chapters to the pub during World War II, during the real ale revolution, and in the recent ‘power to the people’ phase of community pubs and micropubs.

Like Brew Britannia we set out to write something rigorous (lots of research and endnotes) but also engaging — we let ourselves show a bit more flair with the prose this time round, and there are bits that should prod at your emotions, or make you laugh. It’s about spaces, places, architecture, society, people and culture, and takes nothing for granted.

And here’s a playlist to listen to while you read.

Detail from a mock advertisement by Nick Tolson.

Reviews and comments so far:

John Cryne, London Drinker (PDF): ‘I found it a fascinating and rewarding read… Unless you are a serious font of all knowledge, you will find much in it that you did not know and much that will be of interest and at times amusement…’

Henry Jeffreys, ‘Best Books on Drink of 2017’, Guardian: ‘…thoroughly researched, elegantly written history of the English boozer…’

Paul JenningsBrewery History Society: ‘…can certainly be recommended… informative, engaging and indeed entertaining…’

Alec Latham: ‘20th Century Pub and their previous book Brew Britannia! complement each other and are essential for understanding British culture into which the role of pubs is deeply sunk. If you want to better understand this country, buy this book.’

Alan McLeodA Good Beer Blog: ‘I don’t like to come across as all fawning… but I have a hard time finding anything other to write other than I think this is the best book about beer I have ever read.’

Ben McCormickCaught by the River: ‘…a gem of a book… The authors’ enthusiasm for their subject matter is evident as they detail history, culture, social change, architecture, attitude and anecdote. And they back up their thorough academic research with some clearly welcome first-hand practical field trips to the hostelries that bookend each chapter.’

Municipal Dreams (no review online): ‘For anyone interested in pubs, how they’ve evolved and how they fit into the broader social, economic and architectural history of the twentieth century, this is a go-to… Boak and Bailey are enthusiasts but, as importantly, they’re open-minded, critical and expert – and they’ve done an amazing amount of research, all deployed in light, engaging style. A book to be taken seriously and enjoyed.’

Roger Protz: ‘This is a scintillating read, well-informed, well-argued, painstakingly researched, illuminating and inspiring.’

The Pub Curmudgeon: ‘It’s a thoroughly-researched and intelligently written book that nevertheless maintains a lightness of tone that prevents it becoming turgid even when the subject-matter is serious. It’s a must-read for anyone with an interest in pubs beyond just drinking in them, and is one of those books that you will return to and re-read sections again and again.’

Adrian Tierney-JonesOriginal Gravity: ‘A valuable, entertaining and anecdotal survey of a British institution.’

Tim Thomas, West Berkshire CAMRA (PDF): ‘The pair’s inimitable and entertaining writing style makes 20th Century Pub an absorbing read.’