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Pub history in London, suburbs & the south - mainly 1800 to 1940

Many recent updates include the addition of early London Trade directory listings of public houses, Taverns, Inns, beer houses, Hotels, coffee houses etc. It is important to note that there are suburbs and suburban directories, both different, and I list many of these. It is also difficult to find trades people before the first complete census of 1841, and these early directories are incredibly optimal in searching.

London is very interesting as it bore the brunt of the WWII bombings. Many of the roads with similar names were simply renamed to distinct road names. The early street numbering was often rather random, as was the later addition of postcodes.

Pubs, like churches move slowly over a period of time. The public houses are listed by church parish as they would have existed before 1900 - many are no longer in existence. The pub history site does not ONLY cover London, e.g. places such as Birmingham, Nottingham & Lincoln etc.

Allegedly, a host of public house pictures of the 1940's were found in a skip, and now appear on the National Brewery Heritage Trust site.

Many of the more astute licensed victuallers were involved in the Licensed Victuallers Association. This association was set up  to protect families in times of hardship, and aided families in the association who needed help.

Here are my research suggestions to get you started:

The pub / public house / boozer is where most of us spent our youth, and more. They are now expensive places to drink, and the local supermarket has replaced many (if not all) of the Off Licences. There is also a new breed of pubs, with a range of nice ales at affordable prices (I am quoting the likes of Wetherspoons); and this new brand replaces the old established and often run-down pubs of the past.

Let us start with a description of the current pub trade. Many pubs are closing, and being replaced by restaurants and pizza houses.  Other pubs are closing and being converted back into housing, generally flats. The current economic climate is forcing many of the tied public houses to close, whilst newer pubs are continuing to open, and are generally larger. A major trend over the last thirty years or so, has been the renaming of pubs from a centuries old name, to a modern trendy name. The pub history site tends to reflect on the original names. Another trend appears to be the purchase by a brewery of an 'old' building, with little pub interest; and then transforming the same building into a historical pub.

I am now going to move back to the 1970 - 1990 period. At this time, there were a number of new pubs replacing the older, and generally larger pub. The pub names were still relevant, e.g. the White Hart, Kings Head etc. This was a time when the Watneys and Truman pubs were being sucked into the empire of the Grand Metropolitan chain. Watneys (Red Barrel, which was appalling beer) and Trumans (slightly better beer) were purchased by the Grand Metropolitan chain. Apparently, Grand Metropolitan closed down the good breweries and sold even more appalling beer to the detriment of the brands.

The wiki states that Grand metropolitan bought the Truman, Hanbury & Buxton chain in 1972, and next Watney Manns; plus a host of other drinks related businesses including J & B Whiskey.  The problem was in 1989, Lord Young decided to cut the brewers monopoly, by reducing their size to 2,000 but in essence to sell off half of all pubs over the number of 2,000 by the year of 1992. The wiki covers most of this detail, and I will not repeat it here, but this is a list of about 500 Grand Met pubs in 1991 just prior to selling off to Charringtons - these are in London and also the South East (Hertfordshire, Kent & Essex).

Stepping back in time again, we step back about 70 years to the 1940s and the World War, when great swathes of London and the South East were harangued by the war time bombing, and masses of London was demolished by the V1 and V2 rockets.  About the same time, streets were being renamed to remove the repetition of road names. I list each and every pub and beer house in 1944, and this is a very useful guide in researching back further. This pub history site largely covers pubs and beer houses in 1944 and the two hundred years earlier - including their street name changes along the way.

One point I always make is NOT to exclude the beer retailers. many of these were, and continued to be off licences. Other beer retailers are now the well known pubs that we have known forever (apparently). The youngsters of today have no idea of the rich history which exists in our earlier pubs and beer houses, as they know little different. Their idea of the history of a pub is what is was last renamed a few years ago.

My next article on research of a pub will start to explain the differences between the different areas of London and the South East, and why some areas had lots of pubs, and some had none.

What I am now attempting to achieve is the coverage of an earlier London street directory in 1832. This is unique, plus images of the 1842 Robsons directory which confirm earlier entries and also carry much more trade detail about a premises or person. Here is the index of streets in 1832, many with 1842 imagery added.
And next is the complete 1940 London street directory - this will take some months to complete, so bear with me!

London pub history directory.

LONDON Pub History

London Street Listings in 1832.

1832 Index

London street listings in 1842

1842 Index

London Street Listings in 1818 - mainly A and B.

London public houses in 1833 Pigots.

Entire London Street Listing in 1843 - by surname.

London public houses in 1856.

London public houses in 1869.

London public houses in 1899

London 1921 Street directory in 1921

London 1940 Street directory 1940

London Pubs in 2018

And Last updated on: Monday, 11-Mar-2019 10:46:00 GMT