The British Boozer Bounces Back

Great Britain, Observatory

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.

3 comments on “The British Boozer Bounces Back”

  1. snowy says:

    Dear old DORA (Defence of the Realm Act 1914) they watered down the beer and cut drinking hours not just to get people into factories.

    But also stop them getting too drunk before going back to the munition works, to finish their 12 hour shift, hand filling shells with high explosive.

    Before the war they would open at 5 in the morning and not shut till gone midnight.

    But DORA just grew and grew, state control over private property, state censorship of the free Press, control over the food supply and a suppression of labour rights.

    Oh, and a ban on flying kites.

  2. John Howard says:

    A bit like you admin I had one of my locals knocked down a while ago. Well I say local, my grandparents lived in a long street of terraced houses, grandly named Lucknow Street, which had a side street joining one side of it half way down. This memory is going back to the fifties so the street may not have been quite as long as I remembered. Sorry, to get back to the anecdote, on one of the corners caused by this side road there stood a pub and my grandparents house was right next door. Wooden trap doors in the pavement for the barrels and everything. When I took one of my wives back for a little walk down memory lane, sometime in the nineties, I turned the corner ready to show her the little house I was born in only to find that Portsmouth City Council had decided to knock down half of the street and put up a block of flats running at right angles to the original road. I walked slowly way and have never been back.

    Sorry for the ramble but it helps to easy the mental scars you know…

  3. Dan Terrell says:

    Mental rambling with this blog crew is always interesting, John.

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