The Last-Ditch: Fortress Britain

The Last-Ditch is a new project that will run alongside my existing Northern Monuments series and will eventually collate all of the defensive military locations I've visited over the last decade. In 1940 after a defeat at Dunkirk it was expected that Unternehmen Seelöwe (Operation Sealion), a German seaborne invasion backed by aerial assault, was imminent. In anticipation, a huge national effort resulted in thousands of concrete structures being built across the country almost overnight, including 9000 miles of runways. Many came to refer to the country as an island akin to 'one giant aircraft carrier out at sea', and were the battle of Britain not the success that it was, these defensive positions would have been our last-ditch effort at defending Britain and all of Europe from becoming a fascist state. These locations only grew in numbers heading toward the end of the 20th century as the country then prepared for the threat of a new enemy in the Soviet Union. Built to withstand direct bombing raids, it's easy to see why so many still survive today. Often hidden in woodlands, along disused railways, farmers fields or next to busy highways that have reshaped our landscape in the years that followed, many are now scheduled monuments due to their historical importance. Today's post features the entrance to a fuel depot in the rolling hills of Cheshire - the only sign that anything might exist beneath ground, where huge amounts of aviation fuel was stored en route to RAF airfields in the south. They were so big that no amount of effort could be justified to dismantle them, so they now remain a permanent part of the countryside.

"It is a message of good cheer to our fighting Forces on the seas, in the air, and in our waiting Armies in all their posts and stations, that we sent them from this capital city. They know that they have behind them a people who will not flinch or weary of the struggle — hard and protracted though it will be; but that we shall rather draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival, and of a victory won not only for ourselves but for all; a victory won not only for our own time, but for the long and better days that are to come."

Winston Churchill

September 11, 1940

Broadcast to London

Then & Now

Then & Now 1957*- 2021 Fazakerley New Hall clock tower, Liverpool. The central feature of a model village built in 1889 for the West Derby Union as a colony to provide accommodation for around 600 children from the West Derby Workhouse. Most would be orphans or rejected children, and would perform unpaid labour in return for their keep and food. The clock tower would ensure all residents could maintain punctuality and also provided an assembly hall where the village could congregate. By the time of the photograph the 'poor law' act had been abolished in 1948 and by the mid 60's the village no longer housed any children. It fell into increased dereliction until work began in the last 5 years to convert the buildings into modern offices and units for a variety of different companies. The Grade II listed clock tower will be one of the final buildings to reach completion. *The archive image is undated, however the trees did not reach this maturity until similar photographs were taken in 1957. The exact vantage point is no longer possible due to parking and landscaping on the avenue

St John the Evangelist

The ornate ceiling of St John the Evangelist church. Built in 1883 for the brewer and high sheriff of Cheshire Sir Gilbert Greenall, of Walton Hall. What makes this church and this ceiling particularly special is that it was built in a gothic revival design, but amended half a century later with unusually fashionable art deco fittings in 1934. Architects Troughton and Young added features such as seashell inspired fittings above the windows and this a circular light with star under the tower vault. St John’s was where the Greenalls worshipped as well as their estate workers, however the church also cared for the navvies who worked on the Manchester Ship Canal living in Acton Grange as can be evidenced by the graves of many who worked there in 1880-1890. When the estate diminished the parish soon after became part of the borough of Warrington and the church became Walton's central place of worship.

Neo Egypt

Hidden exotic remains of the Peak District's lime industry can still be found beneath dense overgrowth that has settled in since the quarry closed down. Many of these buildings were designed with a surprising amount of architectural distinction. Here in Buxton, you'd be forgiven for mistaking these buildings for Inca temples in jungles on the other side of the world. Built by the Buxton Lime Firms in 1909 in a unique 'Neo-Egyptian' style, they are some of a handful of surviving examples from the era left anywhere in the world, yet they sit silently only a few minutes from the road hidden by the overgrowth.

Northern Monument 38

Trwyn Du Lighthouse. Penmon, North Wales. Stood between Ynys Seiriol and Ynys Môn, the lighthouse marks the passage between the two islands and the north entrance to the Menai Strait. Built in 1838 by James Walker at the request of master shipmen at the port of Liverpool after the wreck of the Rothesay Castle ship in the adjacent waters, the stone tower is distinguished by its original three black bands painted on a white background. It bears the words "NO PASSAGE LANDWARD" on its north and south sides, and became the first 'Trinity House' lighthouse (the official authority for lighthouses in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar) to be automated when it was converted to unwatched acetylene operation. The lamp was converted to solar power in 1996 and has a 15,000 candela light that flashes once every 5 seconds which can be seen 22 km away. Additionally, a 178-kilogram fog bell sounds once every thirty seconds to warn vessels in cases of low visibility. It was originally manned by two keepers, but the tower has been unmanned since 1922 and is monitored and controlled from Trinity House’s Planning Centre in Harwich, Essex.

Ruin of a Ruin

Some 36km north east of its original location near the river Mersey, a Liverpool Castle replica rises in and out of the mist like some sort of forgotten film set. A mere two centuries after the original medieval castle was demolished, a folly in its memory was commissioned by William Lever, the founder of the company that we now know as Unilever, at his estate in Rivington near Bolton. Liverpool at the time was a cultural centerpiece of Lancashire, and the southernmost location of a castle in the historic county. Work started in 1912 and continued until his death in 1925. Relatively few people had been assigned to the construction of the building, so the structure was not quite finished, although the folly was deliberately designed to look like the castle in its ruinous state. Which is just as well, seeing as the folly itself is continuing to crumble as the years fall by.

Shell Hermitage

The Cilwendeg Shell House Hermitage is an ornamental grotto, and a rare survival in West Wales. It was built in the late 1820s for Morgan Jones the Younger (1787-1840), who inherited the Cilwendeg estate upon the death of his uncle - along with the huge income produced by the privately owned Skerries Lighthouse (located off the coast of Angelsey) - an income reckoned in 1820 to amount to £20,000 per annum. The elder Morgan Jones (1740-1826) was enormously wealthy, but was somewhat lacking in urbane manners, and some thought him a very strange man, yet the same commentators also took note of his stealthy benevolence in all local affairs. In 1764 he completely rebuilt the long neglected medieval chapel called Capel Iman at the western perimeter of Cilwendeg Park- a church so remote and forgotten that in 1721 it was singled out as being fit only for the solitary habitations of Owles and Jackdaws. Seeking to reverse the trend, this man's quiet generosity gave rise to the later legend that he had "tamed a wilderness" at Cilwendeg. In the old Bardic tradition, he was one of the few Teifiside squires to merit an elegy many years after his death: Hen Gymro trwyd oedd efe (he was a thorough Welshman) of ancient lineage and charitable works'. He was known locally for his 'distinctly rustic disposition, reclusive habits, and exemplary piety' and so his nephew Morgan Jones 'the Younger' subsequently created the Shell House in his uncle's honour. This extraordinary woodland retreat was conceived in the picturesque taste of the era, and in addition to serving as a grateful tribute to the elder Jones, it was used by his family as a cool amusement in the summer months and a contemplative reading room in the depths of the winter.

Then & Now

Then & Now 1920-2022 The Bridge of Sighs, Chester. A footbridge over the sandstone cutting of Chester Canal. Built in the late 1700s, it was used to take prisoners from the Norman built dungeons at the City gaol to the former Chapel of St John in the south wing of the Bluecoat School. Here they could make their peace with God and receive their last rights before being led back across the bridge for execution. The narrow bridge originally had iron railings to prevent any convicts from leaping into the water below, and was deemed safer than taking them through the streets, where it would be easier for them to escape. City dwellers could stand opposite at the main gate to the city known as Northgate, to witness the felons make their final walk.

Crows Nest Farm

In memoriam – Crows Nest Farm, Daresbury. One of the oldest farms in the historic parish. The earliest record of the farm is the mid-18th century, when it was farmed by George Gleave, who had the canal bridge adjacent to the farm named after him. During the construction of the Bridgewater canal, many of the bridges were built for the simple purpose of providing farmers with access to their fields which were split in two by the new waterway. George died at Keckwick in 1794 and is buried at All Saints’ Daresbury. At that time the farm was owned by Henry Harvey Aston, of Aston Hall in Aston-by-Sutton, and 100 years later the records tell us that it was owned by Sir Richard Brooke of Norton Priory. The majority of the farms in the area of East Runcorn changed hands between the two estates over the course of several centuries. The farm went through a number of names and families over the course of the 19th century, when it was renamed Norwood farm, and Northwood farm over the course of its tenancy under the Tickle family.

The Brooke family eventually left Runcorn, and at the time during the 1921 census there were just 12 households in the township. There were four farms - Crow's Nest, New Farm, Poplar farm and Village Farm. Most people worked on the land, but in addition there was a book keeper, a dredger man, a plate layer, a joiner, a plumber and a bricklayer. When the Brookes estate began to dwindle as the region became more industrial, leading up to when they left Cheshire, much of the land began to change hands in a way that would permanently reshape the rural parishes. Crows Nest Farm was originally 160 acres, but by 1881 the acreage is given as just 73. William Tickle was then employing five agricultural labourers from Ireland living in the ‘shant’ attached to the farm, as the 1901 census states that ‘George Wallworth is the farm manager and employs 5 men to help.’ It is quite possible that they had previously been navvies on the Ship Canal. Many of those who came to the area during the construction period stayed on and found work on the local farms. In the final years of working under the Brookes estate Alfred Broome was the farmer, and in the 1939 register, in the farms early years of private operation, a Samuel Bowden is a cowman on the farm whilst 3 of his sons are horsemen.

Over the course of the remaining the years the acreage became less and less, and the surrounding fields were farmed in conjunction with Poplars farm, who together with the residents at Crows Nest who had lived there since 2002, completed the sale of the surrounding land to Redrow around 2018, and vacated the property in 2021. The children of the family appear to have left their marks on the windows on the final day before leaving their home. The application for housing that soon followed showed the farmhouse, which we know to have been structurally sound, and being part of the plans for the surrounding development, however in March 2022 the bulldozers moved in and in the blink of an eye this beautiful historic home was gone. The majority of the field in which the farm stood for several centuries now forms a site that has been named Gleaves View after the Gleaves family, with only their bridge having survived the remodelling of the farm. 

My images were taken in 2021, the final summer before the farm was demolished the following March. An asbestos inspector was working at the farm as I passed by and after a quick chat allowed me to take a look around. He was very open about the fact that there wasn’t much at all wrong with the building, other than needing a good modernising inside. As you can see from my images there were several relics inside which most certainly held either financial or sentimental or even historical value. Including paintings and an exquisite cabinet, along with what I’m told was a very limited edition ‘world cup’ whisky in the kitchen which had been bagsied by the Redrow site manager. At the time of my visit I was not entirely aware of the imminent plans to demolish Crows Nest, due to the plans clearly including it in the surrounding developments, but with the looming prospect of the sale of the building to one of Britain’s most destructive forces against green spaces and heritage, who ironically have now proceeded to construct their 'heritage collection' adjacent to the rubble, the possibility was always inevitably high.


Northern Monument 37

Number 37 in the project brings us to Arnside Tower. A Pele Tower, or more properly a Tower House. In the Middle Ages, whenever the English King’s attention was distracted, the Scots lost no opportunity of invading northern England. Castles and Pele Towers were constructed to provide protection, and in north-west England between the River Lune and the Scottish border over one hundred were built. Peles were smaller and less well fortified than castles. They were intended to counter lightly armed raiders rather than to withstand a siege by a properly equipped army. Arnside Tower was built by the De Broughton family around 1340. It was damaged by fire in 1602, but was rebuilt and survived intact until 1690. In 1815 it was sold to Daniel Wilson of Dallam and in 1884 one corner fell in a great storm. It was not rebuilt, as by this time the threat of 'liberation' from the Scots had long since diminished. Despite its heavy neglect much of it is still standing, although it is somewhat inevitably gradually disintegrating.

Pele Towers tended to conform to a pattern. They were usually three storeys high, but Arnside had four making it larger than most. The ground floor contained the dairy and store rooms. Stone steps led to a first-floor entrance, with a heavy oak door and a protective iron grille. Fire-places and latrines were built into the walls, which were up to 10 feet thick. A spiral staircase connected the floors. Arnside Tower occupies an interesting position. It is sited on a saddle between Arnside Knot to the north and Castlebarrow to the south. To the west the land slopes to the shore, and on the east to the Arnside and Silverdale Mosses. It is within visual or signaling distance of several other Peles in the area such as Hazelslack and Sizergh, which would warn each other of a pending attack in the event of a sighting of enemy infantry. Nowadays the tower shares it's immediate landscape with a farm named after it operating in it's shadow, and appears to stand on land part of Dallam Tower Estate, the local manor that stretches from Milnthorpe to the North east.

Weston POW

Inside two of the Nissen huts at Weston Prisoner of war camp near Crewe. Built around 1942 to house low risk Italian prisoners, many of whom eventually integrated into the local community and formed families of their own. Initially a sub-camp of 74 Racecourse Camp at Tarporley, the site was expanded to 38 huts, and post WW2 was known as "Weston Hostel 189 G.P.W. working camp" housing around 300 low risk German PoWs until it's closure in 1947. In 2018 not long after these photographs were taken three of the Nissen huts were dismantled and taken to East Kirkby aviation museum before the site was flattened to make way for new housing.

Blast from the past

Blast from the past - around a decade ago before the term 'time capsule house' was even a thing, this gem hidden in plain sight along a rural country road in Cheshire became iconic among explorers. The stories it told through the artefacts left inside earned it the name 'House of the Soldiers Widow'. The personal element of this home paired with the delicacy of the items made it feel somewhat intrusive to post online, so I've barely touched the images some six years later. However having passed by several times as of late I'm delighted to say the house has almost completed a total restoration. This is why sometimes locking your images away in order to protect what they reveal can be worth the wait! Expect the photo album to appear online soon

UFO landing

A secluded relic of the second world war. An Alan Williams gun turret, one of less than 200 built in 1941, and only a handful of which still remain. This one stands on the desolate landscape of Frodsham score in Cheshire, where one man would've been stationed to fire at low-lying enemy aircraft or infantry crossing this vital stretch of industrial coastline in the event of an amphibious invasion across the ship canal. Made entirely of steel, the base of the turret would be sunk into the ground where the soldier would be most protected, whilst the top hatch could swivel and rotate 360 degrees to allow for all-round field of fire. It would luckily have seen very little action, and instead reclaimed by nature in the decades that have followed without any viable means of public access to the marshland.

Weston Christ Church & Lighthouse

Then & Now, Early 1900's-2023. Weston Point Christ Church & Lighthouse. Said to be the only church in the world on an uninhabited island, Christ church was built in 1841 in a much different location to what exists today. It was Runcorn district's western-most place of worship, and faced out to the open estuary of the River Mersey for around half a century until the ship canal permanently made the entirety of the waterfront non-tidal.

The small lighthouse at Weston was built during the construction of the docks some three decades prior, and was twinned with another that still exists at Hale point on the opposite side of the river. Together they guided ships through the dangerous and often shallow estuary of the River Mersey. Weston lighthouse would have had its purpose of helping mariners on the upper Mersey turned redundant overnight. Although it still appeared on survey maps as much as half a century later which suggests that it may have served a new purpose of leading vessels from the river to the newly constructed Weston tidal locks, perhaps deliberately built directly opposite the lighthouse.

Built by the Weaver Navigation Co. for the use of the narrow-boat families who moored up here in Weston, Christ Church was part of the evolution of the waterways eventually led to intense growth of Weston Point. As the Weaver led into the docks it narrowed into Runcorn & Weston canal, which linked to Runcorn Docks and the Bridgewater canal further north into the ship yards and trading districts of the town. It is this system of waterways that helped boost Runcorn into becoming the industrial powerhouse of Cheshire. The tall chimneys in the background are those of the Castner-Kellner Alkali works, which became part of ICI and now INEOS which recently cemented its place in the area by constructing a new regional head office.

The church and lighthouse were entirely surrounded by dock basins and canals; behind it stood church cut and delamere dock, and to the right of the image, the locks leading to 'old' and 'new' basins. These were built as tidal locks for vessels to come to or from the Weaver navigation onto the mersey heading for Liverpool. This was a key part of the system that led to the construction of the Anderton boatlift in Northwich, which bypassed the slower route of the Trent & Mersey canal which instead had to journey through Preston Brook and Runcorn before reaching the river. Allowing the faster trade of salt, flint and china clay to the rest of the world.

Eventually the industry along the weaver navigation came to an end, and with it also the death of the Runcorn Weston canal, subsequently with the filling in of the Bridgewater canal which all took place in the mid 1900's. From then on the area you see in the images served as landing stages for vessels using the ship canal, and the lock gates removed or filled in to allow easier access across the docks by foot and vehicle. The houses you see in the older image were eventually replaced by the rapid growth of industry, with terraced estates built on farmland by ICI further back from the waterfront, creating the landscape we are familiar with today.

The church was subsequently de-consecrated in the 1980's having become increasingly remote from the local community. Stobart eventually purchased Weston docks, resulting in public access to the church being restricted altogether, allowing the church to fall deeply into dereliction. Only one dwelling still exists at Weston docks on canalside, entirely cut off from the rest of the town. Without the church having been granted Grade II listed status in the year 2000 it is unlikely that it would still survive into the future.

Peaky Blinders Filming Location

Then & Now 1934*-2023. Filming location for the final scenes of Peaky Blinders, Season 6 episode 6 "Lock and Key" in the English Peak District. A month after saying goodbye to the Shelby family, a solitary Tommy prepares for his final days by going back to his gypsy roots deep in the countryside. (*2021)

The crew behind Peaky Blinders spent a day filming in the Peak District in April 2021, choosing the location because of its views within easy reach of their Manchester base. David Mason, head of production for Caryn Mandabach productions, said: “The greatest challenge we had was getting Tommy’s caravan, and a mountain of film equipment, special fx equipment, and all the crew and cast, (and a horse) up to the top of a rugged hill with no road - and hoping that the weather would be kind, which it was! The spectacular view was worth it!”

Then & Now

1940-2023 St Peters Church, Aston. Built as a chapel of ease to Runcorn parish in 1637 on the site of its century-old predecessor, the chapel was refurnished and restored by Sir Thomas Aston, the 1st Baronet of the adjacent Aston Estate which once oversaw the entirety of this small hamlet until it was largely dissolved around 1950. There are very few images of the church from throughout its extremely long stint of service. This archive image taken around 1940-1941 shows the church badly damaged by a land mine on 28 November 1940 when destruction was caused to the roof and the interior of the church. The roof was eventually replaced but the church was still unusable and services were held elsewhere, apart from a few open air weddings inside the hollowed out chancel. It remained derelict until restoration completed in June 1950 on behalf of Wright & Hamlyn, and it was awarded the prestige of Grade I listed status in 1970, making it one of the most valued historic structures along with Halton Castle & Norton Priory. In the graveyard are also several protected graves and tombstones that have been given Grade II protection. Today the church operates on behalf of the diocese of Chester, under the Deanery of Great Budworth. The vicar is Rev Dr Collette Jones, serving the parish of Aston-by-Sutton.

Then & Now

Then & Now 1890's-2023. Daresbury Smithy, Chester Road. Built in 1830 on land owned by Samuel Beckett Chadwick of the adjacent Daresbury Hall who owned much of the land in this part of Runcorn rural district at the time, and married Elizabeth Whiteley of Runcorn in 1843. Not only would the blacksmith have shoed horses, but he would also have made and repaired tools and farm implements. It was designated as the village fire station during WWII, with hoses, nozzles and fittings kept in a purpose made cupboard on the outside east end wall of the smithy. In 1911 a Mr F.C.Dutton who owned an agricultural repair business 'Dutton & Co' in Warrington purchased the building as an outstation, employing a John Acton to run it for him, who eventually bought the house from Mr Dutton. John lived in the smithy house with his wife, two children and an apprentice, all from Runcorn. For a time it then became known as 'Acton Smithy'.

It continued its business until the last blacksmith, Colin Dale, died in 1969. Today it is again used by Duttons, the same garden machinery specialist who moved their main premises from Buttermarket Street in Warrington after buying it back in 1969, shortly after the smithy ceased trading and the acquisition of a rival company by the name of 'Mowerworld', hence the current trading name of Dutton's Mowerworld. It is one of the oldest agricultural businesses in Cheshire, and the only business left in the village beside the Ring o' Bells pub. Sadly it reportedly will soon be shutting up shop itself, ending a long line of legacy in the process. The smithy cottage was lived in by the tenants of the smithy throughout its years of trading, and remains in residential use having spent a short spell of time in the last decade as an Alice in Wonderland themed tearoom before returning to use as a dwelling.

Then & Now. Hale Manor House

Then & Now 1800s-2022. Hale Manor House.

The building started life as the Parsonage of Hale estate, sitting just across the road from St. Mary’s Church. The Rev. William Langford added the impressive west face to the house in the 18th century, and his coat of arms and monogram sit carved in stone over the entrance. Later on, alterations to this part of the building reduced the storeys from three to two, so increasing the ceiling height of the rooms. The Fleetwood-Heskeths family moved in to the Parsonage in 1947 because of the poor state of the adjacent Hale Hall that they had bought from the Ireland-Blackburne family. It is a much smaller building than Hale Hall, the grand manor of the estate which was demolished nearby in 1981. It became a Grade II* listed building in May 1958. 

Like the rest of the village, Hale Manor, once built as part of a south lancashire estate in Whiston Rural District, became one of the northernmost villages of Cheshire in 1974 as part of Halton Borough. Outside the hall stands the Childe Of Hale statue, a sculpture that was designed by artists Phil Bews and Geoff Wilson who carved the giant out of a dead beech tree in 1966, and after deterioration replaced by a three metre bronze statue in 2013 by Halton Council, cast by Castle Fine Arts Foundry, after villagers were consulted for their views. It celebrates the life of John Middleton (1578-1623) who was said to be the same size as biblical warrior, Golilath. o The archive image is taken from an undated 19th century postcard. 

The Swan With Two Necks 

The 'Beautiful Northern Boozers' project continues with The Swan With Two Necks in Pendleton, Lancashire. Dating back to 1722 it has sat in the heart of Ribble Valley serving customers for 300 years, having been run for the past three decades by Steve and Christine Dilworth, who earned it the prestigious national CAMRA champion pub of the year in 2013, with regional awards to follow almost every year since. Because of this, punters travel from all across the country to enjoy the finest, most cared for ales on offer. The building is a Grade II listed two roomed, traditional 18th century pub built using local limestone with open fires, oak beamed ceilings and old fashioned pub paraphernalia. Pendleton brook runs through the village in front of the pub, and views across Pendleside can be viewed from the beer garden at the rear, but we'll have to revisit in summer for that one! Either way, it doesn't get much more British than this.

Your local needs you.

You may have heard in the news today that 86% of British pubs are considering closing their doors for parts of the week to combat the pressures of the cost of living and energy crisis. Together they pose a bigger threat to British pub culture than covid, which we all thought would be their biggest ever hurdle. It's down to us the public to support and save our local freehouses, many of which have survived for hundreds of years. Freehouses are pubs which are not operated by corporate breweries or businesses, they operate independently. They create their own food menus, they order in their own ingredients. If they don't brew their own beer, they order it in from whoever they think deserves their custom and that their customers deserve to enjoy. They are the most valuable, and most vulnerable. Pubs such as the Britons Protection in Manchester City centre have defiantly stood in the face of giants through industrial revolution and metropolitan regeneration, yet this could be their biggest challenge to date.

It's easy to see why this historic pub is on Campaign for Real Ale's National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. Having stood on the corner of Great Bridgewater street since 1806, the pub's name recalls its use as an army recruiting venue. A set of murals inside the pub commemorates the Peterloo Massacre when in 1819, a protest for parliamentary reform took place outside the front door, when 80,000 protesters were stormed by a sabre wielding cavalry. Now famous for it's huge selection of over 360 whiskies and constantly rotating real ale, it's most recently been in a very public battle against star pubs, a subsidiary of Heineken who refuse to renew its owners license, and wish to take over the pub forcing it to only sell Heineken-supplied products. Pair this with the battle against the 26 storey skyscraper development towering over the pub that threatens to blot out the sky for pub-goers. This was all before Putin's war brought forward a looming recession that puts further pressure on the business. These corporations are not supporters of Great British pub culture, they are the opposite. To really support and save our pubs and their independent breweries, we need to know who really brews the beer we're buying, and who is selling it.

Many of the beers we drink are unknowingly owned and brewed by companies that have agendas against our local pubs and the British beer industry. Molson Coors, Carlsberg Marstons, AB-InBev, and Heineken to name a few, are foreign brands that have plagued the industry and have a strong-hold on much of the market, having acquired countless brands that many of us mistakenly perceive as still being independent craft breweries, meanwhile feeding profits back into their hands. For more info on this, take a look at this fantastic eye-opening article by Pete Brown. We need to ensure they are not the last ones standing after this crisis. Get out into your local freehouse, chat to your landlord behind the bar about the beers on tap, try new and exciting locally brewed beers, embrace British real ale and help save an institution that has been admired and envied across the world for generations. Leave those shop bought, big brand cans and bottles on the shelves this winter. Buy local. Buy independent. The pubs and breweries need you at the bar!

This year I have started to document Great British freehouses as part of a micro-project called 'Beautiful Boozers'. There will be many stories to follow. Thank you.

Please support the 'Save the Britons Protection' campaign on justgiving.