Cutting, etching and embossing glass was perfected by the Victorians and put to excellent effect in many of the hundreds of pubs they built towards the end of the 19th century. Almost all Victorian and Edwardian urban pubs had decorative translucent glass and although most of it has been torn out, much still remains. Etched glass was still popular in the 1920s and 1930s, although the intricate art nouveau patterns had given way to simpler geometric designs. Pubs continue to add etched glass windows today, often to replace glass that was removed in the clear glass craze of the 1990s and early 2000s, and sometimes to replace original glass with modern copies.
One of the key proposals of the Carlisle State Management Scheme was to reconstruct existing pubs and build new pubs to an ideal agreed by the various interests behind alcohol reduction. The scheme needed an architect and the person chosen was Harry Redfern, who was to oversee the programme until the early 1940s. Redfern’s pubs were revolutionary and became a huge influence on the ‘improved pubs’ movement that was taking off across the country in the inter-war period.
2022 was another good year for discovering UK pubs I hadn’t visited before, and I’ve narrowed these down to five of the best. So what’s the criteria? I confess to a bias towards “proper pubs”, those “whose primary function… is for people to meet and socialise over a few drinks”.
In the mid 20th century some breweries began to add colourful ceramic plaques to their pubs to promote their wares. The design was the same on all pubs and the plaques were cemented into the wall meaning that hundreds are still visible today.
This article takes a closer look at tiled pub exteriors, and examines the importance of the tile manufacturers in the design of pubs. Surprisingly, given their visual impact, tiled facades only started to appear in any numbers at the start of the 1900s, well into the pub building boom.
The pub guide on this website has a category called Ancient Pubs. When I added it I was thinking about the very oldest pubs and I’d assumed that it would include those dating from maybe the 1100s up to the 1400s. Like most people, I was ready to believe claims made by pubs like “dates back to the twelfth century”, or “over 800 years old”. And why not, as these claims are repeated without question in dozens of pub guides from the early 1900s to the present day.
Art deco architecture had been developing since the early 1920s especially in the USA, but it only really took off in the UK in the early 1930s. The style favoured by British architects came not from the USA but from a simpler version developed in the Northern Europe. It began to appear in public buildings, cinemas and department stores and eventually found its way to pub design. Though it was never used widely, several pub architects across the country were brave enough to embrace the style. Their pubs were distinctive and eye-catching and even today they look modern, and very…