As promised, we’re scanning and sharing pictures from the various magazines and books we’ve picked up over the years. This particular set tells a bit of a story.
During and after World War II, until 1954, there were strict building regulations — you couldn’t just build a pub when there was a desperate need for houses, schools, shops and so on. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t any pubs built at all. Rather, each case had to be debated with local authorities and central government ministries to prove there was a real need.
What you’ll notice about these pubs built immediately post-war is that they look very like those being built a decade earlier during the hey-day of the Improved Public House. (One reason why guessing the date of a pub isn’t always as easy as it should be.) That’s partly because ‘bigger but better’ remained the prevailing philosophy of pub design (Basil Oliver’s book was mostly written pre-war but only published afterwards) but also in some cases because plans had been drawn up and then put on ice.
The Balloon Hotel, Wollaton, Nottinghamshire
The Balloon Hotel was designed by W.B. Starr of local firm Hall & Clifford and built in 1951 for Tennant Brothers of Sheffield. It looks, to us, very 1930s, not least in terms of its scale. We haven’t been able to find much specific information other than that its name was eventually changed to The Wollaton Arms and it is now gone.
The Pilgrim, Hayward’s Heath, Sussex
The Pilgrim on America Lane was designed for Tamplin’s by local architect Harold G. Turner FRIBA and built in 1952 to serve the Wilmington Estate. Again, we’d have bet any money it was built in the 1930s, or even the 1920s, if we didn’t have evidence to the contrary. That symmetrical frontage and the high roof are very characteristic of inter-war architecture. And the rear view is barmy — a full-on loggia and conservatory extending back as far again as the main part of the pub.
It later became The Mayflower and was, according to reminiscences on Facebook, famous for its basement disco, ‘sex, drugs and rock’n’roll’. It is now a Morrison’s Local supermarket:
The Fellmonger, Norwich, Norfolk
Next, we scoot out east to Oak Street in Norwich and a pub designed by Cecil A. Golding (FRICS, LRIBA), for Youngs, Crawshay & Youngs, and built in 1953. Well, kind of.
Does anything about that design suggest the New Elizabethan Age to you? The faux-medievalism, the chimney stacks, and the scale again suggest a 20-year-old design dug out of mothballs. This local history website suggests that, in fact, the pub was built in 1937, then bombed flat, then rebuilt. It also point us to the wonderful archive of George Plunkett’s photographs of Norfolk run by his son which includes this shot of the pub in 1939:
Which settles that: it was built in 1953, but not really. Tricksy, they is, these pubses.
The Crane, Basildon, Essex
Now, here’s what we would really start to recognise as a post-war pub, designed by P.H. Banks, and the first permanent pub built exclusively by Whitbread since the war. (The Hind’s Head at Chadwell Heath, 1952, was a conversion of a social club.) The Crane isn’t flat-roofed but it does look pretty much just like a house, or a doctor’s surgery, or a nursery. The anonymous commentator in A Monthly Bulletin says:
The architect… deserves credit for a notable achievement. The gay clarity of his design is admirably suited to a place of refreshment and relaxation; and that is what a public house is meant to be, rather than a vehicle for commercial pretension… The Crane… is likely to start a fashion. It is the first thorough-going application of the ‘South Bank’ style to public house design. Mr Banks has made a clean break with the often soggy elevations of the past and come to terms with the modern movement.
By South Bank we think the author means Festival of Britain style which highlights that he has overlooked The Festival Inn at Poplar which arguably got there first, back in 1951. Anyway, here’s the saloon bar in ‘Australian walnut’:
The main image, right at the top of this post, is of three unnamed customers of the public bar at The Crane snapped by Whitbread’s in-house photographers on the day the ribbon was cut.
Excitingly (mildly so) The Crane is still there and still trading, under Greene King, who it turns out are quietly acting as custodians for quite a few post-war pubs in the new towns.
Bonus: The Newall Green Hotel, Wythenshawe, Manchester
There’s no exterior shot of The Newall Green provided and the notes suggest it was a prefab. If so, it looks like a pretty permanent prefab, not a poky shed like most of the others we’ve researched. It was designed, decorated and built by the architecture department at Wilson & Walker. Above is the public bar or vault (hard chairs, what looks like lino) and here’s the lounge (carpet, cushioned seating):
Further info on any of the pubs above gratefully received. Thanks to Martyn Cornell who donated his spare copies of A Monthly Bulletin a few years ago. Tracking copyright holders — or, rather, anyone who will take responsibility for granting permission to reproduce images — has so far proven impossible, so we’ve just going for it. Get in touch if that’s you and you want any of these pictures removing, or to discuss terms.