London Trivia No.2: Corner Pubs



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.

8 comments on “London Trivia No.2: Corner Pubs”

  1. Matt says:

    Odd fact: Griffin Park, where Brentford FC play, is the only football ground with pubs at all four corners.

  2. Dan Terrell says:

    Thank you for the answer to my recently thought, but unasked quesion: Why put pubs on a corners?
    Speculated that it would give a rapidly departing customer the choice of two streets to turn down, should the friendly publican have whispered: “Lend an ear now. Your good wife’s been seen stormin’ out o’ your front door, headin’ this way with a clever in hand. May I suggest you go left on leavin’ for your best health.”

  3. John Howard says:

    Was born next to one of these corner pubs in Portsmouth. In my grandma’s house. Half way down one of the long rows of afore mentioned terraced housing. Continuous row on one side of the street, the row on the other side was halved and on one of the resulting corners was the pub and on the other was the local shop.

    Any memories anyone of buying broken biscuits by weight? Not only did my grandparents have that little treasure of a shop nearby, but in the back garden was a small but extremely fashionable rock garden and a personal nissen shelter that my grandad had transformed into his shed.

  4. Helen Martin says:

    The location of the pubs on corners made perfect sense to me but I wondered at the availability of so many corners. This everybody wins scenario makes a logical time line and I wonder why it didn’t happen here, unless our building patterns just followed a different sequence.

  5. Alan Morgan says:

    I did not know all that. I am pleased to do so now.

    John: One set of my grandparents had an Anderson shelter in their garden, likewise a rockery and a very wet shed. The other set were bombed out, or rather the house was. No one in but a certain comic irony exists that my gran was on the searchlights during that raid and so no one was in at the time. I’m sure they also had half the family living there also but I’ve no idea where they were at the time (it didn’t feature in my Granda’s tale). Robbing stuff probably, or busy singing songs about fruit and the vicar’s daughter.

  6. John Howard says:

    Like it Alan..

    Have a great new year everybody. Just think of all the hard work by Admin that is coming our way. 🙂

  7. Dan Terrell says:

    Anderson shelters – had to go to Goggle and now know more than I did. Learn a lot on this site. The vicar’s daughter sounds like a traditional set up and fruit is healthy, right?
    Happy New Yearto all.

  8. Alan G says:

    Er, Dan… ’round my may the vicars’s daughter was, and remains, a very beautiful woman. And she did have the traditional two brothers. One to warn off importunate men and the other, well, my job was to beat them up… Rarely did this happen – my brother was not violent but he was very scary.

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