For years now the British pub has been in decline, due to two key factors; the economy of drinking supermarket brands at home and the real estate value of pubs, which are usually on corners, have huge basements and three floors.
Most older streets in London had at least one pub on them. You can still see these by looking for the architectural detail of the building’s corner being rounded off above the first floor, which was where the brewery sign went.
But this year the number of breweries in the UK has topped 1,000, the highest figure for over 70 years, with a record 158 new breweries opening in the past year. Over 1,000 new pubs have opened their doors. Pubs have learned from a continental model how to cater to different groups at varying times of the day, too, opening for breakfast, running lunches and acting as party venues, taking them closer to the traditional model of the pub, with its place in everyday life.
The need to get workers into factories limited pub hours early in the 20th century – now that people work differently, pubs have acted according to taste, and many superb restaurants like the Bull & Last or the Jugged Hare have set up in the disused parts of large pubs. I’m just sorry that this boom didn’t come in time to save my old corner pub, the Crimea, which was built in celebration of the end of the Crimean war, and which rapacious property developers carved into grim little flats.
Pictured is a tiny part of the rambling, roomful Parcel Yard, an excellent new Fuller’s pub that has opened in my neighbourhood this year.