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Historic England lists 21 inter-war pubs

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The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has listed 21 ‘rare and overlooked’ inter-war pubs acround the UK

The listing, which has protected buildings built between 1918 and 1939, is part of a project by Historic England to understand and better protect some of England’s best public houses.

It comes as the government body launched a hunt to find Britain’s best post-war pubs for a forthcoming project which could see a further tranche of watering holes listed.

Most of the treasured drinking spots have been listed at grade II with one - The Black Horse in Birmingham – upgraded to grade II*.

The Black Horse was described by architect Basil Oliver as ‘one of the most sumptuous inns in the district, if not England’.

Many of the buildings were built during the ‘improved pub’ era after the First World War, when breweries rebuilt pubs across the UK aiming to leave behind the drunken image associated with Victorian and Edwardian pubs.

According to Heritage England, these pubs are the ‘best surviving examples’ of an era which paved the way for pubs with larger restaurants, gardens and community meeting spaces, designed to attract more respectable customers, families and women.

More than 5,000 pubs were built during the inter-war period, however very few remain today. The Carlton Tavern in Westminster had been earmarked for listing as part of this programme but it was illegally demolished before it could be protected.

The developer had been refused planning permission to replace the 1920’s Frank J. Potter-designed building with a smaller pub and ten flats, but pulled the building down anyway.

Commenting on the listings, heritage minister Tracey Crouch, said: ‘These inter-war pubs are more than a slice of living history, they play an intrinsic role in English culture and our local communities. I’m delighted that these pubs and their fascinating history have been protected for generations to enjoy for years to come.’

Emily Gee, head of listing at Historic England, added: ‘This national project, the first of its kind, has surveyed the increasingly threatened and much loved inter-war public house, allowing us to identify, understand and protect the most special examples. And what better way to champion the best of our locals than by raising a pint glass to these architectural beacons of English community life now celebrated on the National Heritage List.’

The listed inter-war pubs

The Black Horse, Birmingham (1929-1930) – Grade II*-listed

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The Black Horse is one of the finest examples of inter-war pubs in the country, with no equal in size, ambition or quality. It was built by Birmingham brewery Davenport’s who already ran a successful home delivery service called Beer at Home, so to draw customers to the Black Horse, Davenport’s aimed to offer a real destination, a sense of occasion and escapism. The result was a pub which offered a focus for social life, from lunches to dances, to meetings for societies. It is a beautiful example of the Brewer’s Tudor style, executed using traditional methods and with its high quality of craftsmanship it embodies the best of the Birmingham Arts and Crafts tradition.

The Berkeley Hotel, Scunthorpe (late 1930s) – Grade II-listed

Berkeley_Hotel_lounge_bar

The Berkeley Hotel was commissioned by Edith Kennedy who in a highly unusual collaboration developed the pub in partnership with brewery Samuel Smith, decorated it and eventually ran it with her husband. The local newspaper said of the resulting building, with its Art Deco influences and beautiful fittings-“allied to the skill of architect and builder…is a woman’s taste”.  It is a fine and incredibly in-tact example of a “roadhouse” pub which was the peak of the inter-war “improved” pub movement, designed with a large car park to attract both local and visiting customers.

The Daylight Inn, Petts Wood (1935) – Grade II-listed

Daylight_Inn__1_Exterior_1

This pub was named for nearby resident William Willett, who campaigned tirelessly for daylight saving, finally introduced after his death in 1916. It was the only pub in the district for several decades and soon became a central communal space for people who lived in Petts Wood, largely due to its range of useful spaces including an impressive ballroom. Built by Charringtons, one of the most prolific brewers in the “improved” pub movement with 170 builds across the country, it is a rare survival of the brewer’s chief architect Sidney Charles Clark- a prolific pub architect.

The Royal Oak, London (1923) – Grade II-listed 

The Royal Oak, London (1923) – Grade II-listed

On the doorstep of the famous Columbia Road Flower market in Hoxton, the Royal Oak is called an “early pub” because it serves market traders from 9am on Sundays. It is also a sought-after filming location thanks to its authentic feel and surrounding cobbled streets. Inside, this pub embodies Truman’s style and the key characteristics of the “improved pub” movement which rejected the opulence of turn of the century gin palaces in favour of plain wood panelling and simple decoration.

The Rose and Crown, London (1930-32) – Grade II-listed

The Rose and Crown, London (1930-32) – Grade II-listed

Designed by the brewery’s chief architect A E Sewell, the Georgian style of this pub gives it a refined air, neatly reflecting the brewer’s intentions of giving pubs a more respectable reputation. Its surviving lounge and dining room show the suburban, middle class drinkers that Truman’s hoped to attract in inter-war Stoke Newington. The Rose and Crown, like the Royal Oak, is one of only a few pubs in existence to still have its special ceiling made of vitrolite- a material used to encourage better hygiene and defy the popular image of the pub as a murky establishment.

Golden Heart, London (1936) – Grade II-listed

Golden Heart, London (1936) – Grade II-listed

Just down the road from Truman’s Black Eagle brewery on Brick Lane, and emblazoned with the rare “Truman’s” neon lighted sign, the Golden Heart is a stately pub also designed by A E Sewell. During the 1980s and 90s it became associated with the artistic and cultural vibrancy of Spitalfields and was the local for artists such as Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas. The landlady, Sandra Esquilant, was voted one of the hundred most influential people in the art world in 2002.

The Stag’s Head, London (1935-36) – Grade II-listed

The Stag’s Head, London (1935-36) – Grade II-listed

A plain exterior belies the high quality of this pub’s interior. The Stag’s Head is one of the most complete examples of Truman’s “house style” with its original, long curving bar and brick fireplaces. An important and rare survival is the off-sales department which was set slightly away from the main area of the pub and allowed customers to buy drinks they could take away from the premises. It is a small, simple pub which served the workers at the nearby warehouses, factories, wharves and neighbouring housing estates.

The Duke of Edinburgh, London (1936-37) – Grade II-listed

The Duke of Edinburgh, London (1936-37) – Grade II-listed

This pub stands close to the heart of Brixton, near the market and Electric Avenue, London’s first electrically-lit street. It has survived almost unchanged over the years and many of the characteristics distinctive of Truman’s style remain, from its leaded stained glass windows to its almost intact off-sales section. In its inventory of heritage pubs, CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) pay particular attention to the garden, noting it as a good example of how inter-war pub builders wanted to encourage “not just hardened drinkers but couples and families who might enjoy sitting out in good weather”.

The Station, Surrey (1934-35) – Grade II-listed 

This was one of the most ambitious and expensive pubs built by Truman’s, for richer customers in Surrey. Around 20 specialist firms were employed to build the pub and no details were forgotten, from plaster wall panels decorated with birds and oak trees, to the wooden roof beams, carved with laughing or grimacing faces. It was designed in the Brewer’s Tudor style- a distinctive type of pub design during this period, intended to evoke fond feelings for “merrie England” and to embody the traditional idea of the cosy, hospitable English inn.

The Duke William, Stoke-on-Trent (1929) – Grade II-listed

The Duke William, Stoke-on-Trent (1929) – Grade II-listed

There has been a Duke William pub on this site since the early 1800s and the building we see today has survived well since being rebuilt in 1929, even the majority of the original windows remain. Inside it feels like a traditional local pub with its warm wood panelling and detailed fireplaces. We can also still experience the original, well considered layout, including the central bar which allowed the landlord to supervise all areas of the pub simultaneously, keeping an eye out for any raucous behaviour.

The Wheatsheaf, Merseyside (1938) – Grade II-listed 

The Wheatsheaf, Merseyside (1938) – Grade II-listed

The day The Wheatsheaf opened, according to local Frank Baumber, a great crowd of ale drinkers, lured by the promise of a free pint of ale, were met by campaigners who sang and preached, warning against entering the “House of the Devil”. It was this popular image of the pub that breweries were committed to defying with the “improved” pub movement. An important and rare surviving feature at the Wheatsheaf is its bowling green: recreational facilities were a key element of “improved” pubs as breweries tried to attract a wider range of customers by offering more than just a place to drink.

The Gatehouse, Norwich (1934) – Grade II-listed

The Gatehouse, Norwich (1934) – Grade II-listed

Norwich was severely bombed during the Second World War: 30,000 houses were damaged and 2000 completely destroyed. The Gatehouse suffered some bomb damage but survives remarkably well and due to its unusual style was, and still is, a striking landmark designed to entice passing trade. Inside, the bar has the feeling of a small-scale baronial hall and is decorated with medieval style panels of stained glass windows, said to be inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry.

The Brookhill Tavern, Birmingham (1927 – 28) – Grade II-listed

The Brookhill Tavern, Birmingham (1927 – 28) – Grade II-listed

This was built by Mitchells and Butlers brewery who were at the forefront of pub improvement in the Midlands during the inter-war years and were especially renowned for the gardens in their pubs. According to the 1929 book, 50 Years of Brewing, on a fine evening in summer “there will be scores of people of all ages enjoying themselves in these gardens”. Bowling greens, like the one still in-tact at the Brookhill Tavern, were popular in the West Midlands and the North West. For a building in constant use for more than 80 years, the Brookhill Tavern is mostly unaltered and the quality craftsmanship can still be seen, even in the workmanship of the drain pipes.

The White Hart, Essex (1938) – Grade II-listed

The White Hart, Essex (1938) – Grade II-listed

The star of the White Hart is the fine, oak bar which stretches through 5 rooms, allowing the landlord to move easily between the different spaces whilst keeping a watchful eye over the whole pub.  The White Hart is designed in 2 different styles: the carefully decorated saloon bar and club room were intended for a different class of customer to the public bar, reflecting the aim in the inter-war years to attract a wide range of customers. Charringtons built this pub and were one of the most prolific “improved” pub builders during the inter-war years, with 170 builds across the country. 

Biggin Hall Hotel, Coventry (1923) – Grade II-listed

Biggin Hall Hotel, Coventry (1923) – Grade II-listed

Despite its name, this was never a hotel. It was named such to give it a degree of status, respectability and to broaden the class of its clientele. It was built during the wider development of a suburb of Stoke after the First World War, serving both middle-class locals as well as workers at the nearby munitions factory and telephone works. Designed by renowned Coventry architect T F Tickner, it was built in the Brewer’s Tudor style and, like many of these newly listed pubs, it survives almost exactly as it was built nearly 100 years ago.

The Angel, Middlesex (1926) – Grade II-listed

The Angel, Middlesex (1926) – Grade II-listed

The Angel was rebuilt by Fuller’s brewery and typifies the sturdy Englishness that inter-war pubs often tried to evoke. Its architect, the Birmingham born T H Nowell was known for his quietly simple Arts and Crafts designs for several inter-war pubs which were a reaction to the showy gin palaces of Victorian England.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Excellent news, and long may they flourish - I wonder if there's any progress with expediting the reconstruction of the scandalously flattened Carlton Tavern?
    This deserves maximum publicity, as a warning to others - in particular to citizens from elsewhere who maybe think that they can get away with enriching themselves at our expense, and as a cautionary tale to architects who should take care who they jump into bed with - and to a large contractor who seemingly doesn't check the legality of its demolition work.

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  • Mark Owen

    Perhaps time to catch up on some architectural history, field trip anyone?? Or pub crawl?

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