The Changing Scene: Watney’s Pubs of 1964

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
Exterior view of a modern pub; interior view of the same.
The exte­ri­or of the King­fish­er and a view of its lounge bar.

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

Exterior of the Old Swan from the riverside.

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

Exterior view of the Buckle

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
Four men underneath a polar bear.
N.H. Vil­liers, L.C. Dodd, A. Sea­ward and F.S.W. Han­cock, all direc­tors at Ush­er’s, about to be attacked by a bear.

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

Exterior of the Stirrup Cup.

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

Interior of the Sir John Franklin.

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
Interior of the Moonraker.
The lounge bar with pol­ished cop­per chim­ney breast and bar sur­faced in slate.

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
Interior of the Plough & Tractor.
The lounge bar.

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

Exterior of the Red Anchor

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

The Carpenter's Arms (exterior)
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

Exterior of the Cardinal's Hat.

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

Exterior view of the Cranberry.

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.

Interior of the Cranberry.
The lounge bar at The Cran­ber­ry.

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.

* * *

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.

Chapter header.

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.


5 thoughts on “The Changing Scene: Watney’s Pubs of 1964”

  1. It was an era when Wat­ney was still regard­ed as a good name and there­fore “Wat­ney pub” sound­ed like a good move. A few years lat­er that was all destroyed, espe­cial­ly when the phrase “Nor­folk is gross­ly over­pubbed” entered the lex­i­con.

  2. So when was the Moon­rak­er actu­al­ly built? The James Bond nov­el was pub­lished in 1955, which was prob­a­bly a more direct inspi­ra­tion per­haps, and sort of ties it in with the space/rockets craze of the 1950s.

    1. The arti­cle does­n’t spec­i­fy but it was new in 1964 so prob­a­bly 63–64. The arti­cle cites the folk tale, spec­i­fy­ing its con­nec­tion to Bris­tol and Devizes, but does­n’t men­tion James Bond.

      1. I’d guess it’s a cou­ple of things com­ing togeth­er, you can imag­ine how pleased the mar­ket­ing depart­ment was to0 find a name that they could pre­tend was pan­der­ing to the Olde Eng­lande her­itage crowd whilst hav­ing some of the cool­ness of the space race and Bond (first Bond film was 1962, Moon­rak­er had been seri­alised in a news­pa­per car­toon strip in 1959). And of course it had been drama­tised by South African radio, not that Bob Hol­ness’ per­for­mance as Bond would have influ­enced British pub names but it gives an idea of the per­va­sive influ­ence of the book.

        1. The ‘Moon­rak­er’ of the nov­el was a mis­sile, though, which I think would have evoked unpleas­ant mem­o­ries of the V‑weapons rather than the glam­our of the Space Race. I sus­pect the pub was named before the Bond films real­ly took off in pop­u­lar con­scious­ness, and it was just the folk tale they were think­ing of.

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