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Bend an elbow and pick up one of these extremely readable books about drinks and drinking

London Heritage Pubs: An Inside Story

Geoff Brandwood and Jane Jephcote,

Camra Books, £14.99

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This pub guide from the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) is focused not on pints, but on historic interiors. Of course, there’s no shortage of online and print guides to pubs already – but getting hard facts about pub history is tricky, and too many guidebooks and websites in particular just reiterate hearsay and disinformation.

Not here: co-author Geoff Brandwood has a PhD in architectural history and is a former chairman of the Victorian Society; co-author Jane Jephcote is chair of Camra’s London Pubs Group.

The pub listings are arranged by area, and with plenty of amateur, but adequate colour photography to illustrate the descriptions. Additional essays cover topics such as the great gin palace architects. Several unlikely pubs that even pub bores might not be aware of are carefully documented, and therein lies the only catch.

Many of the pubs listed might be of historical interest, but this doesn’t make them good pubs; some of those listed are pretty rough, and don’t even serve decent beer, yet no mention of this is made in the reviews (natch). So it’s a guide to use in conjunction with another (or even our own online pubs guide), rather than as a definitive list of good places to drink. Despite this caveat, it’s a brilliant book which any pub enthusiast will take pleasure in browsing.

Guy Dimond, Time Out London Issue 1998: Dec 4-10 2008

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