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Archive charting history of city pubs snapped up at auction by Lichfield historian

A Lichfield historian, tour guide and author is the new custodian of an incredible archive documenting the city’s pubs.

Jono Oates with the collection
Jono Oates with the collection

The collection was painstakingly pieced together by Lichfeldian Laura Bowcutt and includes hundreds of photographs capturing the changing face of Lichfield.

Laura, now 84, started taking photos almost 70 years ago. Deciding it was time to pass on the baton, she put the collection up for auction with Richard Winterton Auctioneers.

The archive generated intense competition when it went under the hammer at The Lichfield Auction Centre in, Fradley Park.

The winning bid of £850 came from city historian and tourism specialist Jono Oates, who has just released his book The A To Z Of Lichfield.

“I am so pleased I was able to secure the archive – it is packed with memories, it’s an absolute treasure trove and I’m pleased to preserve it for Lichfield,” he said.

“It was also about making sure the collection doesn’t get broken up and sold off.

“It will remain in Lichfield and I’ll be using it in my own research and for my tours.”

Continuing the legacy

The auction result is doubly fitting as Jono’s late parents both volunteered at St Mary’s and knew Laura.

Jono added: “It keeps the connection going – it is great to continue that legacy.

“I’m collecting more and more things and this archive is a wonderful addition to my collection.”

Some of the pictures in the collection
Some of the pictures in the collection

As well as a mixture of Laura’s own photographs and other donated to her through the years, the archive includes newspaper cuttings and other supporting documents and memorabilia, including lists of Lichfield’s legion of pubs and their respective landlords dating back to Victorian times.

As well as pubs, there is also memorabilia of The Lichfield Brewery and information on the old Regal Cinema, changing shops and trade premises, the hospitals, a collection of old maps and local history books.

Other fascinating facets include an old beer bottle embossed with ‘John Simms Ltd Lichfield’ – a similar bottle was found 20ft under the ground by workmen at the former Royal Oak in Sandford Street in April 2001.

That pub closed late in 1923 and was demolished in 1961.

A separate lot in the same auction featured Laura’s collection of Lichfield postcards from the Edwardian era to the modern plus an album of Victorian and Edwardian greetings cards. These fetched £200.

“Well done to Jono for his winning bid – the archive really is a treasure trove and it’s very fitting that Jono is going to be carrying on this wonderful legacy,” said auctioneer Richard Winterton.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.

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