Pubs’ ‘murky’ image revamped in inter-war years

The Rose and Crown, Stoke Newington, built in 1930.

The Rose and Crown, Stoke Newington, built in 1930. - Credit: Archant

Two Hackney boozers are amongst 19 recognised nationally as shining examples of the inter-war years, when pubs were made bigger and better to leave behind an image of ‘drunkenness’ to attract more respectable customers including families and women.

The Stag's Head, Hoxton, built in 1935.

The Stag's Head, Hoxton, built in 1935. - Credit: Photo: Derek Kendall

Conservation organisation Historic England upgraded the pubs, which were all built between 1918 and 1939 and shaped by the “improved pub” movement, to afford them better protection.

Breweries across the country rebuilt thousands of pubs in the inter-war period, spurred on by the need to appeal beyond their usual male clientele, creating bigger and better pubs with restaurants, gardens and community meeting spaces – and even games rooms, ballrooms and separate smoking rooms.

The Rose and Crown in Stoke Newington Church Street, which was built by Truman’s Brewery between 1930-32 is one such example, which has been given a Grade II listing.

Designed by the brewery’s chief architect A.E. Sewell, Historic England picked it out because its Georgian style gives it a “refined air”, which they believe “neatly reflects the brewer’s intentions of giving pubs a more respectable reputation” to attract suburban, middle class drinkers.

It is also just one of only a few pubs in existence to still have its special ceiling made of vitrolite - a material used to encourage better hygiene and defy the widespread image of the Victorian and Edwardian pub as a murky establishment.

Meanwhile the plain exterior of the Stag’s Head in Orsman Road, Haggerston, belies its high quality interior, and it has also been awarded a Grade II listing.

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Historic England picked it out as one of the most complete examples of Truman’s ‘house style’, with its original, long curving bar and brick fireplaces.

Built between 1935=6, an important and rare surviving features is its ‘off-sales department’, which was set slightly away from the main area of the pub, and allowed customers to buy drinks they could take away from the premises.

The pub is small and simple pub and served the workers at the nearby warehouses, factories, wharves and neighbouring housing estates.

Around 3,000 pubs were built during the inter-war years but few survive today.

Emily Gee, head of listing at Historic England said: “This national project, the first of its kind, has surveyed the increasingly threatened and much loved inter-war public house, allowing us to identify, understand and protect the most special examples. And what better way to champion the best of our locals than by raising a pint glass to these architectural beacons of English community life now celebrated on the National Heritage List.”