A history of pubs in London and UK through the years with licensees

Most sites in pub history suggest that the pub started in Roman Times, as the Tabernae. There are some good examples to see at Pompeii.
The ealiest inns and taverns include the Axe Inn, in Aldermanbury, which esxisted from 1424.

Some of the early licensing laws of Inns, Taverns and public houses are reproduced in the Licensing Acts.
The Alehouse Act 1828 allowed a beer house to open for about two guineas a year (a guinea is one pound and one shilling), when every other building in many of Hertfordshire towns was once a pub , or beer house.

I list the principal buildings in the 1677 Ogilbys map of London, and is just after the Great Fire of London, in 1666.

In the London Morgans map of 1682 at the Layers of London site, there are many more Inns listed, and it is just 16 years after the Great Fire of London. I list nearly 2,000 entries in the Key to the Morgans map of London in 1682. the additional information being added to this key will help in perusing the map, plus there are links to many of the principal buildings, and pubs, Inns and taverns.

The londonwiki also lists the entirety of the London 1832 street directory and also the 1842 street directory in images.
And for completeness, it also lists every London rail station in TFL, from Roman times, and their accessibility, i.e. the number of steps needed to get from train to street level, and the type of chariot needed.

The pub history site does record minute details of research of people, buildings and streets from diverse sources, including Pepys diaries and taverns visited, pub tokens, newspaper reports, masonic records of meetings, Sun Fire insurance records, early maps and street directories, and surveys of London, window and hearth taxes, licensing petty sessions records, census detail, births, christenings, marriages, deaths and wills. There are also a significant number of images of the buildings, business cards and other related material.

Some families, only spend a few months in the licensed trade, others span many decades. The pub history site is specifically brilliant in listing and linking pubs where a family may have been involved. It is all a bit personal, but more interesting in building up a list of residents throughout the years.

Here is the amazing story of the Carlton Tavern, in Maida Vale. It was demolished a day or two before being listed for historical reasons, and has since beeen rebuilt, for this same reason.

This history of any old London building, whether it be a pub, a church, or any other landmark that is identifiable in history is important in how to understand where, and how, London evolved through time, and what originally existed before the masses of modern architecture was built. The relevance of politics in the formation of modern London, or other cities is open to question.

Random stuff

In addition to public houses, are the many coffee houses and taverns, Inns, chop houses and hotels. Many of these pre-date public houses, and many are now the exchanges for business, and were formerly a place for meeting associates, reading newspapers and share dealings. Here are the wine merchants, victuallers, coffee houses etc in 1809 from the London Holden directory. I am building the latest listing on the london taverns blog. Here are many thousands of London listings.

The London Brewery, Golden lane established 1804. For supplying the public with genuine malt liquor

The Licensed Victualler Asylum in 1844, and a list of its subscribers, mostly with pubs, to the charity.

Another brilliant resource was the Licensed victuallers institution. This had royal patronage, and therefore it was a charitable institution which was popular, and quite wealthy.

Many of the more astute licensed victuallers were involved in the Licensed Victuallers Association. This association was an insurance to protect members of licensees families, in times of hardship.
A considerable number of children, were named in a list of those most in need of reward at the Institution, and their detailed reasons. There was then a vote to choose those who should receive this help. This was limited by numbers. Those children who were lucky enough were then educated to a standard which enabled them to learn a trade. Older ex licensees, or their wives, were sometimes offered a place to live out their lives.

The Licensed Victuallers Association is also brilliant in naming many of the early victuallers at a licensed house.

Some of the victuallers joined the freemasons societies and their lodges. Here are some listings of the Grand Lodge memberships; and a second listing of Grand Lodge memberships. And a third listing Grand Lodge memberships, from a second book of Grand Lodge freemasonry records; and a fnal list Grand Lodge memberships finishing this book of Freemasons initiation Grand Lodge records with very useful dates and sometime their ages.

During the early part of the 20th century, and in particular between 1904 and the first world war in 1914, a series of measures through the temperance movement, were executed where too many public houses were spoiling a neighbourhood. This led to the Licensing Act in 1904; which allowed Notice by the way of a Compensation authority to recommend to close down licensed premises for a fee, or compensation. The licences were of varying types, some were full licences, others were beer, some listed themselves as ante-1869 which meant they could have been bought for two guineas a year without any magisterial licensing issues as was the case in the earlier beer act of 1830. Here are a some newspapers reports on Compensation which also often aid in naming an early beer house.

This appears to be endemic around the UK, as I have looked at different areas outside London, e.g. Batley, in Yorkshire and more recently in listing all of the pubs and hotels in Devon in 1923, and then in comparing with those still in existence in 2018, and then again, now in 2023. It makes quite grim reading of the state of public houses and their future as a place to enjoy social activity outside the home. I pity the licensees who attempt to make a going concern and profit! As ever those tied to a brewer or pubco are most disadvantaged through smaller profit margins.

What is clear, in 2023, is that many public houses have closed recently. Many have been victims of the lack of business during covid times, and sadly the investment opportunity to invest in 'real estate' has led to many larger chains of pubs being bought up by foreign investment companies, and a clear disincentive to sell off assets, and thus the continued closure of pubs.

Many pub chains have been bought up by investment funds, e.g. Stonegate is now the biggest pub co.
Greene King was purchased by a Hong Kong investment company.

And Last updated on: Sunday, 03-Dec-2023 15:47:41 GMT