Inns have been around for almost two thousand years and originally functioned as a place for a weary traveler to rest their head for the night and get a good meal. Stables were also provided, along with fodder for horses. There would be a communal dining room, where you’d generally get what you were given.
With rail travel, many inns sprung up around railway stations, while coach houses offered ample parking and quality services to rich stagecoach travelers. The inns themselves offered a wider range of food and drinks, with many incorporating a bar area. Like the pubs of the day, these thrived and became dens of drinking, smoking and gambling.
As motor cars and rail travel advanced, many inns started to see a huge decrease in custom. Since most already had a bar area, the natural move was to focus on becoming more like a traditional pub. Indeed, it was at this time the distinction between inn and pub began to blur. In order to attract more custom many inns invested in slot machines and it wasn’t long before they were a common sight. Televisions were later introduced, showing a variety of sports, such as horse racing, and punters could often make bets with an on site bookkeeper. These customs lasted for many years and pubs and inns became dingy, male dominated places.
Nowadays, the trend is to be more accessible to families and to offer fine dining and a range of locally produced drinks. The fruit machines and large TVs have been removed, but don’t despair, free WiFi is a must, so you can still play craps online or check the footy results! Accommodation is once again offered, as more and more people are keen to visit the countryside, preferring to avoid large hotels and stay local instead.
So, while inns have seen many changes over the years, it seems as if they are slowly returning to their original purpose – providing a place to rest your head and get a good meal.