Saturday, 24 September 2016

Pubs and the Publican part 3

Not only did their clientele change but public houses evolved in other ways as well. Our idea of a traditional urban pub with ornate mirrors, etched glass and polished brass fittings is actually a later evolution of the traditional tavern tarted up with the glitz of a gin palace. In larger places the premises might be divided into a stand up bar for the drinkers of spirits like gin; a cozy parlour for the more respectable clientele such as tradesmen, clerks and reporters; and a tap room for artisans and engineers.

The trade itself also evolved from independent pubs run by the owners to public houses owned by the breweries and run by publicans who were actually tied tenants of the brewers. Brewing companies would own a string of pubs to which they supplied beer. That is why it was common to see brewer’s signs like Barclay Perkins or Whitbread prominently displayed above the sign for the name of the pub on the front of the premises. My grandparents were publican tenants of a brewery. But how they ended up running the Hearts of Oak pub in London’s East End and my grandmother’s long association with the serving side of pubs is a story that illustrates many of the changes that pubs experienced through the decades.


Jennings, Paul. The Local: A History of the English Pub. Tempus Publishing Limited, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2007

Monckton, H.A. A History of the English Public House. The Bodley Head Ltd., London, 1969

Spiller, Brian. Victorian Public Houses. David and Charles Ltd., London, 1972.

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