Incidental Lager, Pubs and Breweries in Photos of Edwardian London

Close up of omnibuses advertising Tennent's Lager

Someone – we don’t know who – spent the week of 22–28 August 1908 visiting the capital of the British Empire and brought home as a souvenir a photo book called 350 Views of London.

They wrote the dates of their hol­i­day on the inside cov­er in pen­cil. The book then spent at least some of the past cen­tu­ry some­where damp – an attic or shed – so that its cov­er buck­led and the sta­ples hold­ing it togeth­er rust­ed away. That’s why we were able to by this rel­ic for a cou­ple of quid from the junk box in a sec­ond­hand book­shop in Bris­tol.

Among those 350 pho­tos, some full-page, oth­ers fair­ly tiny, there are a hand­ful that par­tic­u­lar­ly grabbed our atten­tion, for obvi­ous rea­sons.

The Spaten Beer Restaurant, Piccadilly, c.1908.

This is one of the clear­est, most detailed views we’ve seen of the Spat­en Beer Restau­rant at Pic­cadil­ly – a pio­neer­ing Lon­don lager out­let that we obsessed over dur­ing the writ­ing of Gam­bri­nus Waltz. We still des­per­ate­ly want to see a view of the inte­ri­or but this is nice to have.

The King Lud, Ludgate Circus

The King Lud, Ludgate Circus

The book con­tains two views of one par­tic­u­lar pub, The King Lud at Ludgate Cir­cus. This is inter­est­ing to us because Jess drank in it fair­ly reg­u­lar­ly in its final years when it was brand­ed as part of the Hogshead chain. It is now a Leon restau­rant, but recog­nis­ably the same build­ing.

Omnibuses outside the Royal Exchange.

The beer con­nec­tion in this shot of the Roy­al Exchange is a lit­tle less obvi­ous: look at those two omnibus­es in the cen­tre – they’re adver­tis­ing Ten­nen­t’s Lager, as dis­trib­uted in Lon­don by Find­later & Co of Lon­don Bridge. This is a reminder that Ger­many and Aus­tria-Hun­gary weren’t the only coun­tries import­ing lager to Lon­don in the years before World War I.

Tottenham Court road from the south.

We haven’t seen this shot of Tot­ten­ham Court Road before, or any oth­er from quite this angle. That’s Meux’s Horse Shoe brew­ery and the attached brew­ery tap to the right – the site of the famous beer flood. The sign above the brew­ery door adver­tis­es MEUX’S ORIGINAL LONDON STOUT. We’d like to know more about the Horse Shoe Hotel’s ‘Amer­i­can Bar’.

The Saracen's Head, Snow Hill.

The Sara­cen’s Head was on Snow Hill in the City of Lon­don. We can’t quite pin down the pre­cise loca­tion, even after look­ing at con­tem­po­rary maps, aer­i­al pho­tos and the com­pre­hen­sive Pubs His­to­ry web­site. An edu­cat­ed guess is that it was destroyed dur­ing the Blitz – if you know oth­er­wise, or can tell us exact­ly where it was, do com­ment below.

10 thoughts on “Incidental Lager, Pubs and Breweries in Photos of Edwardian London”

    1. The Sara­cens Head by Charles Dick­ens, Nicholas Nick­le­by Ch IV, V

      ”.. just at that part of Snow Hill where omnibus hors­es going east­wards seri­ous­ly think of falling down on pur­pose, and where hors­es in hack­ney cabri­o­lets going west­ward not unfre­quent­ly fall by acci­dent, is the Sara­cens Head Inn… When you walk up this yard you will see the book­ing office on your left and the tow­er of St Sepul­chre’s church, dart­ing abrupt­ly into the sky on your right, and a gallery of bed­rooms on both sides. Just before you, you will observe a large win­dow with the words ‘Cof­fee-room’ leg­i­bly paint­ed over it.”

  1. Apolo­gies for going in a non-beery direc­tion which is prompt­ed by the ref­er­ence to “Find­later & Co of Lon­don Bridge”. Is this Find­later Mack­ie & Todd? I assume so, as the loca­tion fits although I did not know they did any­thing oth­er than wine. I men­tion it as many years ago I used to buy wine on mail order from them and last night opened a half bot­tle of Chateau Thieu­ley 1988 which they sup­plied – see . And in anoth­er co-inci­dence I worked oppo­site Find­later’s cor­ner for many years –

  2. The most obvi­ous Amer­i­can Bar that springs to mind is the one at the Savoy Hotel. Accord­ing to their web­site (
    “As transat­lantic trav­el became more pop­u­lar in the late 19th and ear­ly 20th cen­turies, many Amer­i­can Bars opened through­out Lon­don. The term ‘Amer­i­can Bar’ refers to a bar serv­ing mixed or ‘Amer­i­can’ style drinks, more com­mon­ly known as cock­tails.”

    If you already knew all that but were inter­est­ed in this par­tic­u­lar one then I can’t help you, though.

  3. The King Lud was, of course, owned by Levy & Franks, pio­neers of pub cater­ing and founders of the Chef & Brew­er chain, now, after sev­er­al own­ers, in the hands of Greene King, and very prob­a­bly our old­est pub restau­rant brand. I real­ly want to write some­thing on Levy & Franks, but it’s about num­ber six or sev­en on the ‘to do’ list …

  4. I know the pre­cise loca­tion of the Sara­cens Head Hotel (in fact there was more than one loca­tion, as it was rebuilt). The OS maps mark it though.

  5. The Sara­cens Head was on the cor­ner of King St, Snow Hill and Cock La. It’s clear­ly marked on the Ord­nance Sur­vey Five feet to the mile, Lon­don, 1893–6 map. It’s only marked as P.H. but the out­line match­es the pho­to. I think it also says Cock La on the pub wall in the pho­to.

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