Tony Hitchmough believed that the pub has always been the heart of the community; pubs were places where people met and talked, played games and sports, held meetings, took trips, and the buildings themselves also had a story to tell.
About fifty years ago, realising that things were changing, pubs being demolished and altered, he started to collect information from any sources available. Around that time the Black Country Bugle first appeared; he found the contents and letters engaging. He visited the archives of the Black Country boroughs. Directories were an invaluable source for licensees’ names, enabling him to build up lists. Censuses, church registers and licensing registers, also were consulted, where available. Newspaper articles provided many items of human interest (eg. inquests, crimes, civic matters, industrial relations), which would be of value not only to a pub historian, but to local and social historians and genealogists alike. Technology has enabled the entire archive to be released digitally, rather than sections as magazine articles or as a book. The files contain information about every pub that has been found to exist in each of the districts within the Black Country (new pubs are being discovered even now). All files are available for free download by anyone interested.
Thanks go to the people such as Keith Hodgkins, Denis Harper and Robert Walker, and the many others, who have allowed their own photographs to be used and provided additional information. In 2010 Tony was asked by the relatives of the late John V. Richards to sort through his own archive of material, in order to redistribute it to appropriate groups. This was very useful in confirming, and providing new, information. He was also asked to disseminate information gathered by Jim Laws, Wolverhampton CAMRA’s pub preservation officer/pub historian. Tony himself, unfortunately, due to health problems, can no longer participate in the project, but felt proud when the British Library decided that Hitchmough’s Black Country Pubs should be saved for the future, and started to archive our website.
I hope you find these files useful. Please, if you can, show your appreciation by contributing information or photographs.
The work, as ever, continues.
Janet Parker (Mrs.Hitchmough)
With many thanks to the 'back office': Bangers, Mash and Gavin.