TIME was when popping down to the local meant just that.

Streets and villages throughout Herefordshire counted the pub down the road as an essential part of the community hub. But the demise of local pubs in recent years has seriously damaged much of that social landscape.

A new book, entitled ‘Local Locals’ charts the loss, and happily in some cases, survival, of pubs in the Golden Valley. Gone is The Trout at Dulas, once a haven for faggots and peas with a pint, and long disappeared are the Red Lion at Abbeydore and the Acre alehouse at Ewyas Harold.

A chill wind has blown across the whole country in respect of local hostelries, and Gill Jinman and Helen Waites have built on a ‘pub project’, which emerged from the studies of Ewyas Harold Archaeology and History Society, to produce a book recording pubs past and present in Ewyas Harold, Pontrilas, Dulas and Abbeydore.

Years of delving into the past, through on-line research and gleaning local knowledge, has produced a fascinating glimpse into a lost world of inns, alehouses and parlour pubs. Writing a foreward, journalist Matthew Engel laments the loss of so many watering holes.

He writes: “1967 was the very year Barbara Castle brought the breathalyser to Britain. So it has just celebrated its 50th birthday, presumably with lemonade. It has saved many lives. But it was a disaster for the country pub trade.”

He admits that after living in Herefordshire for 27 years he can hardly count as a local, but the pub book, extolling the delight of so many licensed houses, past and present, in the Golden Valley is for him a “feast of nostalgia”. He notes that pubs can come back “even from the very long dead”, citing the Castlefields at Clifford, and that villagers in “long-dry” Vowchurch have started a monthly pop-up pub in the village hall to go with their country markets.

A strenuous stalwart of the campaign to resurrect Craswall’s Bull’s Head, Matthew hopes the old pub, once frequented by drovers, may breathe again.

Local Locals is dedicated to Graham Sprackling, Ewyas Harold’s enthusiastic local historian, and a founder member of the village’s history group. Mr Sprackling is given praise for “his wealth of local knowledge and library of information and old photographs which has been an inspiration to the authors of this book”.

Gill and Helen are pleased to conclude that the Dog Inn and Temple Bar in Ewyas Harold are thriving still, which shows that country pubs in Herefordshire may be down, but not yet out.