Hoxton Mini Press has just published East End Pubs – an endearing ode to some of the area's best-loved boozers. In a time when pubs in the UK are closing at an alarming rate, with London’s East End being one of the worst affected areas, pub lover Alistar von Lion and photographer Tim George hope to shine a light on how important it is to keep these historically rich and community-focused drinking spots alive.
Von Lion’s passion for pubs started at an early age. He loved the feeling of entering another world, where the smell of old wood, stale beers and home cooking would engulf you as soon as you entered (as he explains on his website, London Pub Explorer).
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Having grown up surrounded by pub culture (his grandad worked for Watney Brewery, delivering beer to pubs across Birmingham), his first visit to a pub in the Eighties was one that shaped his future.
For East End Pubs he joined forces with documentary photographer Tim George, who is renowned for capturing London’s ever-changing urban environments. The two set out on a mission to photograph historic riverside inns, snug bars and backstreet boozers, culminating in this lovingly crafted, beautifully shot book.
The Prospect of Whitby Pub, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, is thought to be one of the oldest pubs in the East End, dating back to 1520. Today it’s still a popular drinking spot among tourists and locals alike, but pubs such as this are at threat of closure due to soaring energy costs, inflation and high interest rates.
In the first half of 2023, almost 400 pubs across England and Wales closed their doors for good – impacting not just landlords and ladies, but the local communities who use these establishments.
Since their inception, pubs in the UK have been a cornerstone for socializing, engaging in debate, enjoying live music, or in more recent years, enjoying an array of different sports collectively. But traditional pubs are so much more than somewhere to enjoy a pint with friends; they can transport you back in time with their rich architecture and period interiors and offer a glimpse into the past.
East End Pubs is a celebration; not just of the buildings themselves and the impact they have on communities, but the landlords and ladies who are having to come up with inventive new ways to keep them open.
Based in East London, choosing Hoxton Mini Press as the publisher must have been a no-brainer. The small indie company is dedicated to creating books that are accessible, affordable and beautiful – and with the focus on the area in which it exists, there is a personal connection there too. East End Pubs is available to preorder now from the Hoxton Mini Press website or from Amazon UK. It goes on sale on October 26 in a 256-page hardback edition for just £25 (approximately $30 / AU$48).
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