Beer history

Imaginary Pub: Living Museum of London Brewing

Victorian or Edwardian pub livery

Just like the Brown Bitter Company, the following pub does not exist.

Within walking distance of the Museum of London is a cavernous Victorian pub building which, with the help of a culture fund grant and sponsorship from London breweries, has been renovated and refitted as it would have looked in the 1890s.

This isn’t a static museum to be viewed from behind glass, however — it is a working pub, of sorts, specialising in selling beers created from historic recipes.

Bottles from various breweries are behind the bar, with appropriately vintage labels designs. On the bar, three handpumps for mild, porter and bitter, brewed to various historic recipes especially for the pub.

In the back room, open during the day, and curated by the Museum of London, a small but well formed exhibition on the history of London brewing.

This isn’t a place for rowdy boozing, and is therefore completely inauthentic in that respect. It is usually filled with studious types reading and scribbling in their notebooks, as well as parties of beer tourists.

A particular draw for geeks? The endangered beer guest brew programme.

Question for historical types: does this imaginary pub have the right beers on the bar?

8 replies on “Imaginary Pub: Living Museum of London Brewing”

What a great idea – walking round London, particularly the East End, you notice the huge number of beautiful late Victorian and Edwardian pubs that have closed and been converted to other uses, maybe the next time a suitable one is threatened we should be lobbying the National Trust to step in (I think they already own The George in Southwark, though perhaps haven’t made as much of it as they could), or perhaps a London pub could be an outstation of the Brewing Museum in Burton. When you look at the popularity of places like Beamish or Ironbridge, or the various house-museums in London, there definitley seems to be a large market for this sort of heritage / social history tourism.

Beamish, Ironbridge and the Black Country Museum at Dudley all have reconstructed Victorian pubs, although obviously they don’t sell recreated Victorian beers.

Zythophile — wouldn’t you rather just live nearby and hang around the bar in a top hat and frock coat getting merry on Burton?

Tom/Curmudgeon — it’s true, there are lots of historic pub exhibits, none of which (as far as we know) serve any beer. The Docklands Museum has a nice recreation of a Thames-side pub, and the Museum of London has a few Victorian streets including a pub.

Not sure about Ironbridge, but the Beamish and Dudley examples both serve beer (the Dudley one, IIRC, Holden’s Bitter).

As someone who works in the museum exhibitions biz, “…a small but well formed exhibition on the history of London brewing…” is a near impossibility, because “small” and “history of London brewing” are diametrically opposed to each other!

No time to look it up now, but I wrote about this topic over at Alan’s blog seven years ago or so. I had visited the Museum of London and found next to nothing related to beer and pubs. A London Pub Museum was what I had in mind, but that could easily be combined with a brewing history museum.

The gin palace across the street from the old Young’s brewery – very seedy when I visited some years ago, but still with high ceilings, mirrors and glass, could be the place?

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