THEY may not make pubs like they used to but Bendigo's Ken Arnold does not mind that he was not born in the heyday of the pub and brewery scene.
The author has just compiled a book on the city's historic hotels, and another on the many breweries that have called the town home.
"I think you would shudder if you saw what some of the hotels were like in the early days," he said.
"There was no sewage and a lot of the 'out-offices' (toilets) as they used to call them, were pretty rugged, I would say.
"And in the early days, you could have a hotel in the front room of your house. It didn't have to be a pub like we know them now."
Mr Arnold's new books will likely be printed in October and go on sale in November, depending on how the pandemic pans out.
But July has marked a significant milestone in the project, which has been in the works for over 40 years.
Mr Arnold has finally been able to pull together and condense information on more than 1000 hotels into a 352 page pictorial book celebrating Bendigo's history of hotels.
"I started this project when I was working on my first book, on soft-drink factories, back in 1978," he said.
"There was a brewery exhibition a few years ago and someone asked (when I was going to finish the book). I told them I couldn't, it was impossible, but they kept on me so I thought I'd have another go.
"I like the challenge of it. That's how it's been for many of my books. I enjoy the thrill of the chase. People used to say to me 'you can't do that' and I would prove that I could."
Below: the front cover of one of the books and historic photos that will feature in the works.
Mr Arnold's 160-page brewery book will celebrate the many beer makers that Bendigo has housed.
"The bulk of the city's 40 or more breweries were established in the 19th century and while some lasted for decades many quickly folded," he said.
"The majority of breweries started in that 1860s and 70s period. After that they tapered off pretty quick.
"It was a fairly competitive industry. A lot of people got into it and then couldn't pay the rent, or didn't renew their leases when they expired."
The end of the mining boom played a part in the demise of the brewery business, Mr Arnold said. Some businesses struggled once their founders died or retired.
Mr Arnold said a handful of hotels established in the mid-19th century had survived through to modern times.
Many were shut down in the 1920s as authorities curbed the number of pubs in town.
"There were only supposed to be a certain number of hotels per thousands of people here," Mr Arnold said.
"In some of the suburbs here, you had pubs that were side-by-side. The Licence Reduction Board shut a lot of them down, or bought the licences off of them, at least.
"There were a lot of nice hotels around but only a few, like the Shamrock Hotel or City Family Hotel, are still standing or used as hotels."
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