Thousands of historic pub photographs are being digitalised by the National Brewery Heritage Trust (NBHT), as part of a move to preserve the country’s pub heritage.
The NBHT has agreed plans that will see 5,500 photographs and associated historical information of former Charrington pubs, many of which are in London, made available to people across the world online.
And it could all have been so different, as in the late 1980s, the entire collection was only moments away from destruction.
The collection’s saving started, almost by chance when the phone rang in the office of former All Party Parliamentary Beer Club secretary Robert Humphreys, who was at the time working for Charrington’s in London.
Humphreys, who is now a trustee of the NBHT, said: “25 years ago I received a call from a colleague alerting me to the casual disposal of the entire, priceless collection of some 5,000 pub photographs, some dating back to Edwardian times.
“There in a skip in the yard at the old Charrington brewery in the Mile End road was the filing cabinet, stuffed to bursting with these images.
“Thankfully I managed to retrieve it and arrange for it to be delivered to the Bass Museum in Burton (Now the National Brewery Centre), where the pictures have safely survived for the intervening years.”
The NHBT was formed was formed to support the work of the museum with funding from CAMRA and the Burton Civic Society, and last year, it together with the Save Photo and Historypin agreed to digitise the entire collection.
“Now, at last, the collection is to be made available on-line to all of us, thanks to the combined efforts of those involved. I could not be more delighted,” said Humphreys.
Historypin is working with the Europeana project is to develop a book and ebook based on the collection and on additional material sourced from the pubs themselves, pub regulars, the National Brewery Heritage Trust and other organisations.
To collect this material, Historypin will organise events in selected pubs that invite landlords and regulars to come and admire the Charrington collection photographs, as well as ask them to contribute their own memories, photographs and stories.
In the meantime, a few pubs have expressed their interest in having a high-resolution image from the Charrington collection on their wall.