Shap Local History Society held their first indoor meeting of the winter season in the memorial hall when Jean Scott-Smith welcomed Val Fermer of Ravenstonedale Parish History Group who gave a presentation on the Pubs and inns of Westmorland.
Mrs Fermer began by defining the different kinds of establishments; taverns and alehouses did not offer accommodation, whilst inns did, whilst some public houses were licensed to sell alcohol, others were not and these operated as temperance hotels or coffee houses.
It was common for even small communities to have several establishments, the average ratio being one pub for every 1,000 people. In 1816 there were 48,000 licensed premises, and in 1900 this had risen to 100,000.
Much of Mrs Fermer’s research had been about the establishments in and around Ravenstonedale and its sister village of Newbiggin on Lune. She detailed the various building that once were used as public houses, the owners, licences and the name changes and the significance of the chosen names, for instance, the King head became popular following Henry the Eighth’s break with Rome, and all inns called the Pope’s Head had their names changed to that of the King. The Black Swan name dates back to when the first black swans were introduced to Britain at the end of the 18th century. The Fat Lamb apparently had earlier names related to the droving industry. All three still operate today.
Mrs Fermer was thanked for her interesting talk which had made several mentions of Shap.