In 1964–64 Watney Mann and its subsidiaries were on a spree of pub building in towns, New Towns and on housing estates up and down the country.
Here are photographs of and notes on those new pubs from editions of the brewery’s in-house magazine, The Red Barrel, published in 1964. Where possible we’ve credited architects and builders. Unfortunately no photography credits are provided in the magazines.
The Kingfisher, Corby, Northamptonshire
This pub on the Lodge Park estate was opened in December 1963 by E.C.M. Palmer, the chairman of Phipps, the Northampton brewer Watney’s took over in 1960. It was designed by Phipps’s in-house architects and built by Simcock and Usher Limited of Northampton. The managers were Norman Houghton and his apparently nameless wife.
A feature of the spacious public bar is the woodwork. The seating, the counter front and the ceiling are of fine quality pinewood, and a Granwood floor blend with the general appearance of the room… [It] has that essential amenity, a car park, with space for about fifty cars.
Still there? It seems so.
The Old Swan, Battersea, London
This riverside pub was designed by architects Stewart, Hendry & Smith and built by Siggs & Chapman of Croydon. It replaced an older riverside pub.
A full length continuous window in the ‘Riverside Bar’ overlooks the Thames, and the nautical atmosphere is accentuated by the curved boarded ceiling reminiscent of a ship’s deckhead, and by a ship’s rail for a footrail, while ship’s lanterns and porthole-style windows provide light.
Still there? No, sadly not – it was apparently demolished before 1987 (didn’t even make 25 years) and was replaced with a block of flats that cheekily borrowed the pub name.
The Buckle, Seaford, East Sussex
This pub was opened in 1963 and designed by E.A. Whittaker, surveyor for local Watney’s avatar Tamplin’s, and built by Brighton firm Saunders Watts Ltd. The Martello-style tower was, as you can see, a striking feature of this design – there was more leeway for creativity at the seaside than on housing estates, it seems.
The house, which replaces The Old Inn, had a first floor bar giving a magnificent panoramic view of Newhaven harbour and the English Channel, and there is a terrace for open-air refreshment. The name… [refers to] the Pelham family coat of arms.
Still there? Yes, but now a rather wacky looking private home.
The Bear, Wellsway (Bath), Somerset
We Tweeted about this one a couple of months ago, tipped off by our copy of a 1965 guide to Usher’s pubs. The Red Barrel informs us that it opened in December 1963 and that the life-size polar bear over the door was moulded from fibreglass. It was designed by the Usher’s in-house architects and built by a local firm called Long. Inside there were apparently three more polar bears in relief and lit by spotlights inside. It was run by Mr and Mrs Ken Dawes. (Weird that he married a woman with the same first name as him – ho ho!)
There are no exterior shots in the magazine but you’ll see from Street View that it’s quite classy as post-war pubs go, presumably because of the strict rules around building standards in heritage hungry Bath.
Still there? Yes!
The Stirrup Cup, Barton Seagrave (Kettering), Northamptonshire
This pub was opened in January 1964. It was designed by Phipps’s own architects and built by W.R. Burgess & Sons of Kettering. The managers were Don Smith and his wife.
The decor of The Stirrup Cup has a distinct hunting flavour and the public bar and saloon bar are called respectively The Harness Room and The Paddock.
We don’t normally pass judgement but this is quite a handsome building ‑and that diddy loggia/patio thing on the left looks a bit church-like, and rather nice.
Still there? Yes!
The Sir John Franklin, Poplar, London
The Sir John Franklin, a new Mann’s house, takes its name from a Mann’s house damaged by bombing during the war. It replaces not only this house, but a Watney’s house, The East India Dock Tavern, which was compulsorily purchased in connection with the London County Council Tunnel and Improvements Act of 1938.
This pub was designed by Stewart, Hendry & Smith and built by C.S. Foster Ltd of Loughton, Essex. The walls were decorated with pictures of ships and maps connected to the explorer after whom the pub was named.
Still there? No, it was demolished in 2011.
The Moonraker, Cwmbran, Monmouthshire
Cwmbran was a New Town built more or less from scratch after 1949 and, taking advantage of this new frontier to push forward with its national expansion, this was the first Watney Mann pub in Wales. It was designed by J.H. Thraves & Son of Newport in co-operation with the New Town Corporation’s in-house architect.
Its name derives from a popular folk tale from… the West of England. There must have been some logic behind them applying it here but the magazine article does not explain it if so.
Still there? Oh yes, and in style – it’s now a branch of Wetherspoon under the name The John Fielding.
The Plough & Tractor, Basildon, Essex
Basildon is another post-war New Town; the Plough & Tractor served the Lee Chapel district. It was a very large pub with four bars and an off-licence. The Hayloft Bar upstairs even had a dance floor. Altogether this sounds more like the grand inter-war style than what might have been expected in the 1960s. It was designed by Barnard Reyner, built by J.M. Hill & Sons, with an interior scheme (in dark brick and fancy woodwork) by Druce & Co of Baker Street, London.
Still there? Yes!
The Red Anchor, Chelsea, London
This pub replaced an older building, The Odell Arms, and had a single bar. Its name was a reference to the mark used on Chelsea pottery. It was designed by Chesterton & Son and built by Harry Neal Ltd. It was managed by B.R.A. Wells for the Westminster Wine Company.
Still there? Yes! But renamed The Sporting Page and cleverly made over to look like a much older building with bay windows and other fiddly Georgian bits. We don’t know if we’d have guessed it dates from c.1964 if we’d passed on the street.
The Carpenter’s Arms, Stepney, London
This pub replaced an older pub with the same name nearby that was demolished by the LLC to make way for the Ocean Estate. It was designed by L.D. Tomlinson & Partners of Romford, Essex, and built by J. Stokes & Son Ltd of East Ham. It had two bars and was a basically a local boozer.
Still there? No.
The Cardinal’s Hat, Middleton, Lancashire
This pub was built by Wilson’s (a Watney’s brand) to serve the Langley Estate and opened in June 1964. The name is a reference to Cardinal Langley who was born in Middleton. It had an off-licence, public bar, smoke room, lounge and assembly room.
Still there? Of course not.
The Cranberry, Oldham, Lancashire
This was the 25th new pub built by Wilson’s in the period after World War II and opened in July 1964. The original Cranberry was destroyed by bombing in 1940. It had a lounge, smoke room and public bar.
Is the Cranberry still there? No, closed, and converted into houses. There’s no way you’d ever guess it was once a pub – sadly, a defining feature of the generally rather plain pubs of this period.
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And that’s your lot, for now. Next time it’ll be a gallery of pictures of Watney Mann pub refurbishments – that is, not new builds but often quite wacky themed interiors for existing pubs.
And, obviously, if you found this interesting you’ll love 20th Century Pub (“the best book about beer I have ever read” – Alan McLeod) which has an entire chapter on post-war pub building.