“The story of nationwide radical change”

The brewery and brewing historian Ken Smith analyses Volume 2 for the Brewery History Society’s journal Brewery History: no. 186, Spring 2021, pages 75–6. The book review exists only in the print edition and will not be available online for some years.

“A wider national framework”—“breathtaking”

Ken Smith had earlier reviewed the Diary volumes for the journal. He explains the purpose of the new publication, Mary Hardy and her World, as giving the context. “This set of four [volumes] takes the story, using the diaries as a foundation, and expands them to fit into a wider national framework:”

The author has applied the same intensive, encyclopaedic approach. Each of the four volumes has a depth of detail that is quite simply breathtaking.

The public houses

Much of the review focuses on topics of special interest to Brewery History readers, such as problems faced by brewers in the Hardys’ time which are still familiar today: “maintaining supplies, managing cash flow, controlling debt and staying the right side of the Excise and the Licensing Authorities”.

Ken Smith expresses surprise that vertical integration as a business model and the securing of tied houses for the brewery were well-established practices as early as the eighteenth century. The Hardys’ brewery tap, the King’s Head at Letheringsett in north Norfolk, is seen at the banner.

Burnham Market, Hoste Arms 2

One of 101 public houses supplied by the Hardys. In 1800 they sent the innkeeper from this market town inn to the debtors’ gaol in Norwich Castle. This outlet lay 17 miles from the brewery, requiring a long trip with the beer wagon

The review sees Volume 2 in these terms:

A volume worthy of a place on any degree course in social, economic or industrial history and of great interest to us brewery historians as it sets a scene of pre-industrialisation.

“Very entertaining”

Like other reviewers Ken Smith considers the volumes to have a wide application and yet be very readable:

The author has dedicated a huge portion of her life to Mary Hardy and the resulting publications reflect that. They are encyclopaedic, detailed, accurate and overall very entertaining.

You will not just learn about the  . . . world that Mary Hardy and her family inhabit but about the country in general at a time of widespread change . . .

This is the story of nationwide radical change from an agrarian economy to an industrial one.

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Pre-publication article

Rowan Mantell highlights some intriguing features of Mary Hardy’s record:  250-year-old diary