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The Pub Gallery and pub designs in the 20th Century

In this article Victoria Wells discusses the Pub Gallery website and 20th century pubs.
Photo of the Sherlock Holmes Pub at night.
© Sara Groblechner on Unsplash

As the discussions, exercises and videos have shown so far pubs have been built, maintained and renovated continuously over hundreds of years.

Pub design has evolved over time and each era has had different styles and designs, particularly when new pubs have been built that echo the architectural styles of the day. The Pub Gallery website is a fantastic visual repository of pub photos and information showing each different development style in pubs.

In the 20th century as new pubs were built, particular styles emerged. Some of the most visually striking are art deco pubs, with some fantastic examples in Nottingham, as detailed by Dermot Kennedy on the Pub Gallery Website. As he notes, these pubs are identifiable by their ‘flat roofs, curved corners, long horizontal lines and metal windows’ built in the 1930s.

Pub building paused during the 1940s starting again from the 1950s. Fewer pubs were built after the war and examples of pubs from the 1950s onwards are relatively rare. This was because as Boak and Bailey note they were “not inherently bad, [but] were often too flimsily built” (Boak and Bailey, 2017: page 106). Very few 1960s pubs remain but one excellent example is the Laurieston in Glasgow. In the 1960s and 1970s many estate pubs were built. Post war pub designs were often functional and unlike earlier pubs did not follow the local architectural vernacular instead being built with a functional style. These range from flat roofed pubs, which are often viewed unfavourably, as noted by Karl Whitney in the Guardian in 2017 or brutalist style with a basic structural exposed style.

Examples of both do survive (although often now not as pubs). Two examples are the Globe in Homerton as a flat roofed pub and the brutalist Centurion Inn in Bath.

Over to you

Do you, or have you visited a pub built from the 1930s onwards? If so, what are you experiences of them? If you haven’t visited a pub built in this era… would you like to? What do you like and dislike about them?

Share your thoughts with your fellow leaners in the Comments.

© Victoria Wells/University of York
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Pubs: History, Consumers, Management, and Protection

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