This month’s featured topic:

Tiling & Ceramics in pubs from Edinburgh to Portsmouth

  • Auckland, Southsea: Tiled exterior with 'Longs Ales' sign
    Auckland Arms, Southsea

Tiling and ceramics in pubs was a way of making your pub stand out from your competitors. It started to be used in pubs as early as the 1880s and became hugely popular in the great pub building boom of the late 1890s and early 1900s. It was used both inside and outside the pub and though expensive, it had the practical benefits of being both long lasting and easy to clean.  Ceramics continued to be a feature right up to the end of the 1930s. Because it is so permanent and difficult to remove it has defied changes in fashion and it still decorates a considerable number of pubs today.

Some of the best tiled exteriors can be found in Portsmouth, usually advertising the brewers who built them like the George and Dragon (Brickwoods) and the Auckland Arms  (Longs). Brewery competition also led to dramatic exteriors in Birmingham, like those at the Craven Arms (Holders) and the Queens Arms (M&B). Some pub exteriors like the Peveril of the Peak in Manchester and the Fox and Anchor in London are entirely covered in tiles.

In pub entrances mosaic tiling was widely used on the floor, often displaying the pub name or the brewery. The Fat Cat in Sheffield has a fairly battered mosaic entrance promoting Cannon Ales, the brand of Stones Brewery. At the other end of the scale the Fitzroy in London has a beautiful new entrance mosaic added as part of the refurbishment by Sam Smiths a few years ago.

Moving further inside, a small number of pubs have splendid ceramic bar counters, with great examples at the Garden Gate in Leeds and the Black Horse in Preston. Tiled paintings or murals go back to 1883 and one of the most striking is the hunting scene at the Bartons Arms in Birmingham. Others can be found at the Rose Villa, also in Birmingham and the Cafe Royal in Edinburgh.

The full range of pubs with tiling and ceramics can be found here – Tiling and Ceramics in Pubs