Why are London pubs so often situated on corners? Landowners controlled large pieces of land and worked with developers through the leasehold system. The landowners let plots out to the developers, who paid for the construction of long terraces, and the developers borrowed to pay construction costs.
The pubs, therefore, were built first in order to house, feed and water the builders. In the worst case, the pub and its licence could be flogged off to pay for finishing the terrace. The developer could lend building money to plumbers, glaziers and construction workers who’d do the work on each other’s homes for free – so everybody won.
And the pub remained on the corner after they’d all finished, ready to provide them with a social focus. Thus the pub was there first and last, throughout the lives of those who lived in the terraces. Unfortunately this unique multi-use basis of such buildings makes them the target of rapacious developers who appeal to the greed of incompetent breweries by offering them wads of wonga to move out.
New micro-breweries are returning, but the space and size of pubs in areas where premium rents apply means that they’ll never reappear on the same scale again. Fullers Brewery should therefore be congratulated for doing such a great job on ‘The Parcel Yard’, London’s best new pub.