2.3 Hotels of the United Kingdom

Eyre’s Hotels of the United Kingdom appeared first in 1879 (for 1879-1880) and again in 1881 but the indications are that it was then published annually. Despite the title page of the first issue promising Published Every Alternate Year, the title page of the 2nd edition reads Published Annually. This was clearly a response to positive reception of the first edition as the Introduction to the second edition points out: “Our first issue of the Hotels of the United Kingdom which appeared in 1879, was so well supported that we decided to make it an annual publication”. An advert in the Second Edition of their Plymouth Directory (see below) advertises the forthcoming Fourth Edition for 1883; the 7th Edition has been recorded for 1886; and an 11th Edition was announced for c.1890, so it would seem the work was indeed published annually. The 7th edition has the slightly extended title Eyre’s Hotels of the United Kingdom and Continent. Considering that 11 editions were published, relatively few examples are known: a total of six examples are reported (and 4 of these are the first edition).

This was another handsome volume and certainly one that serious hotels would want to be listed in as well as in any library they may have had for their guests (Fig. 14.). Besides maps of north and south Wales, there were 37 specially adapted county maps by Philips from the Handy Atlas. However, three new maps also appeared: Scotland and Ireland (by Philips), and the map of the London area by Dolling (Fig. 42.)[i]; i.e., this formed a complete atlas of the British Isles. As well as a decorated cover these volumes had red borders to each page and the second edition even had gilt page edges.

The Introductions to both early editions attempt to assure the reader that: it is not merely a list of advertisers, but is a reliable list of almost all the bona fide Hotels in the United Kingdom. The arrangement of each volume was slightly different, as pointed out in the 1881 edition Introduction but the contents remained the same with a complete guide to London followed by a gazetteer of the UK. In the 1879 edition the maps are interspersed with their text; in the 1881 edition the 41 coloured maps are placed between these two sections: but both could be considered an atlas of the British Isles. The List of Advertisers is long with Eyre Brothers themselves now having adverts on no less than 12 pages (2nd ed.) with most being for directories or for Watering and Visiting Places. Many of these adverts were identical, having “TOWN”, e.g., Torquay, followed by the same text beginning “Intending Visitors to this resort should consult” followed by the full title to their guide (Fig. 13.). From Abbeyleix to Youghal the 150 pages of the gazetteer list well over 1000 locations. In 1886 the 7th Edition was issued by the brothers and contained only the country maps. 


Fig. 13. Advert for Watering Places 2nd Edition inserted in Hotels of the UK 1881. 

Covers for two series were beautifully bound; Watering Places and Hotels. The Watering Places of the North of England and the second edition of South of England as well as the editions of Eyre’s Hotels of the United Kingdom (Figs. 5. & 14.) appeared as lavishly bound volumes with a colour illustration on the attractively decorated covers and gilt titles. The back cover, too, has an elegant embossed design - and only just noticeable is the intertwined EB on the back cover of the 2nd edition of Hotels. These bindings were produced by the firm of E Symmons & Sons of 23 Bouverie Street (off Fleet Street). Edmund Symmons was listed as early as 1855 as a bookbinder (at 31 Bouverie Street) and may have specialised in producing attractive covers. He was certainly still active in 1874 when he took on an apprentice, Sam Lewington of Great Bedwyn in Wilts, for a period of five years, but had moved to 23 Bouverie Street. In 1882 he was registered both at this address and had premises in Hermes Hill (1882) and John Street (1884), Pentonville. He retired in 1890 and it was left to his sons, William and George, to carry on the business.[ii]



Fig. 14. The first two editions of Hotels of the UK had attractive covers by Symmons.


One endorsement for the Hotels is found in The British Trade Journal for October 1881: The importance of a reliable hotel guide is fully recognised by all those whose duty or pleasure leads them to travel far and wide; but the difficulty in obtaining such a book is often an unpleasant experience for the traveller. … So far as the United Kingdom is concerned no better guide has been published than that which now makes its appearance for the third year.

The two editions of Watering Places with elegant bindings appeared in 1878 (North) and 1881 (South 2nd) but no further issues are recorded. The extant editions of Hotels of the UK (1879, 1881, 1886) are similarly bound. Unless sales were high then the publisher may well have encountered financial problems. The Eyre Brothers may have decided that the Watering Places was no longer a viable publication c.1881 (but smaller individual counties might be an option), but that Hotels was worth investing in. Regardless, it seems only natural to recoup some of the outlay in producing a cheaper, pocket edition. However, it would not be the Eyre Brothers who published a cheap edition – it would be left to their successor, W H Hood.


Fig. 15. Map of Devon in Eyre Brothers´ Hotels 1st Edition.


Indeed, one pocket edition of such a guide is recorded with the title Eyre´s Hotel Guide for Everybody: where to stop and a note inside states: Published annually with Eyre´s Hotels of the United Kingdom and Continent, established 1879, giving also railway fares, market days, half-holidays, and all the provincial places of amusement. This was a small affair of just 36 pages and the only copy known has an accession date in 1889 and no name or address of the publisher and is undated.

However, an advert in the 5th edition of the Plymouth Directory (now published by W H Hood for the second time in 1890-91, see 2.5), announcing the forthcoming 11th Edition of Hotels, states; “Recognising the increasing favour accorded to the above Guide [Hotels], the Proprietor has decided to still further popularise the work by issuing together with the above, A Railway Bookstall Pocket Edition.” This may simply have been a frantic attempt to keep the Hotel directory in publication. The full-page advertisement continues: There being 80,000 COMMERCIAL TRAVELLERS alone in the Country, to whom this convenience will be extremely useful, as well as the public generally, it is hoped that the decision to insert gratuitously in the supplemental issue, all advertisements given for the next Edition, will cause Hotel Proprietors and advertisers generally to extend their support, in a manner commensurate with the great outlay incurred in preparing a work of this magnitude. The Proprietor guaranteed that no less than 20,000 copies of this guide would be printed in the first issue, and hoped to increase this in future years.

If the 7th Edition of Hotels appeared in 1886, then the 11th would have appeared in 1890; and this is corroborated by this advert. From their very nature these pocket editions would have been an ephemeral work, thrown away shortly after use, and consequently only a single example of the Railway Bookstall Pocket Edition is known.

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[i] Four of the maps are of two counties with Cambridgeshire and Huntingdon combined; as are Cumberland with Westmoreland, Leicester with Rutland and Oxford with Bucks together. This means 41 county and country maps.

[ii] Symmons is listed in Hodson´s Booksellers Directory of 1855 (p.78) as Bookbinder at 31 Bouverie St. Sam Lewington is listed in the Wiltshire Society Apprentice Registers 1817-1922 (Wiltshire Record Society 1997). The announcement concerning retirement is found in the London Gazette of October 1890 (p.26). In 1882 Symmons is listed at 23 Bouverie Street with three other businesses sharing the same building: Irons, Clarke & Co., wood engravers; Alfred Atkins, companies' stationer; and Miss Mary Ann Garmeson´s Ladies' School (Kelly´s Directory).




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