Review of ‘North Derbyshire Pubs - Past and Present’, by Jim McIntosh

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.


by Jim McIntosh
Published by Pynot Publishing
ISBN 978-0-9552251-6-1 (2008)

Many a Peak District pub appears in this rich collection, witness to all manner of dirty deeds from poachers' gatherings to revolution to gruesome murder. Almost on our own doorstep is a pub with cellars formerly used as a morgue!

The author, Jim McIntosh, is a past chairman of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, who quite rightly views the pub as an integral part of this country's social history and fabric. Many a one is still central to community events.

I particularly appreciated a professional breakdown of terms that are known to confuse a writer on local history, differentiating for instance between beerhouses, alehouses, taverns, inns and public houses - or just pubs. Some of their names are even more of a revelation. Who would guess that the sign of The White Horse is connected with a mad king? Nor is The Barracks anything to do with soldiers, whereas the Ark at least gave a Biblical nod to its previous life as a Methodist chapel.

Local breweries past (e.g. Cromford Brewery) and present enter the story and we learn the reason for the closure of many a 'local' under the Compensation Act. One such was the Queen's Arms at Bonsall which, almost two centuries on, is thriving under a new lease of life.

Old photographs and drawings add enormously to the appeal of this new publication, though there is a sadness in looking at images of architecturally important pubs lost to progress, not least the demolition of one 'beautifully proportioned gabled Elizabethan house' that today would be protected. As the author himself remarks: 'It is to no one's credit that part of Derbyshire's heritage should be dumped ...' - and that includes a pub where Mick Jagger didn't offer to pay for his drink!

Review by Julie Bunting

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