Friday, September 25, 2009

London porters

The forgotten story of London’s porters « Zythophile

Almost no modern books on the history of London mention the Ticket Porters and their rivals the Fellowship Porters, not even Weinreb and Hibbert’s 1,000-page London Encyclopedia (which does, however, manage to mangle a nonsensical story about ale conners and the Tiger pub at the Tower of London).

The exception is Peter Earle’s A City Full of People, subtitled Men and Women of London 1650-1750, published in 1994, which leans for its scholarship about the subject on Walter Stern’s The Porters of London, written in 1960.

This lack of general knowledge about the people who played an irreplaceable role in London’s economy from the 17th to the 19th centuries, one that was the equivalent of white van delivery driver, motorcycle courier and postman rolled into one, meant confusion for beer writers in the 1970s when they came to write about porter the drink.

[Middle English portour, from Anglo-Norman, from Late Latin portātor, from Latin portāre, to carry.]

A dark beer resembling light stout, made from malt browned or charred by drying at a high temperature.

[Short for porter's ale.] porter: Definition from


Blogger Zythophile said...

Thanks for the link - is wrong, incidentally, to say porter (the drink) is "short for porter's ale", since porter was a beer, that is to say, well-hopped, not an ale (only lightly hopped in the 18th century).

9:10 pm  

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